NRM to recreate First World War ambulance carriage for centenary exhibition

Jane Sparkes, of the National Railway Museum, lights the way for the arrival of the ambulance train

Ambulance train nurses in Liverpool in 1916

The top picture shows a north-east van, one of the earliest ambulance vans

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A HUNDRED year old train carriage has arrived at the National Railway Museum to recreate the First World War ambulance trains which transported hundreds of injured soldiers away from the horrors of the First World War trenches.

The train carriage was rolled into the museum on Tuesday, and will take centre stage in a special exhibition to mark the war's centenary.

Until the end of the month the 1907 London & South Western Railway (LSWR) coach will be on show in the Museum's Great Hall, before it disappears into the backstage areas to be transformed into a recreation of the ambulance trains of the time ready to go on show again in 2016.

The carriage, which is of the kind used as ambulance trains in the war, will transformed by conservative experts to represent the different aspects of the trains.

Jane Sparkes, interpretation developer at the museum, said: "We have a real opportunity to use this carriage to recreate the atmosphere of travel by ambulance train, telling an emotive, powerful story that hasn’t been told before. The carriage has arrived with us at a fitting time, as the nation commemorates the August 4 anniversary of Britain entering the war."

Carriages like it were used to bring the wounded back from the front line, and historians say that while some soldiers experienced the latest hi-tech comfort giving them a sense of haven after the horror of war; others had to cope with very basic berths in converted wagons and would have felt they had left the trenches for a new kind of torment.

The scheme to bring the ambulance train to York is being funding by a £100,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as well as Yorventure cash from Yorwaste recycling company.

The HLF's Fiona Spiers said: "The impact of the First World War touched every corner of the UK. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £47million in projects – large and small - that are marking this global Centenary. The National Railway Museum’s ‘Remembering Railway Service 1914 – 1918’ project will help to investigate and share the history and stories of the railways within the First World War, enabling communities to gain a deeper understanding of the far reaching impacts of the conflict."

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12:53pm Thu 14 Aug 14

ValentineKing says...

2 years backstage before it's ready! That's half the length of the war itself just to dress a train. And more than £100,000 to do it. I'm glad the people involve in preparing the train weren't involved in the war. We'd still be fighting it now!
2 years backstage before it's ready! That's half the length of the war itself just to dress a train. And more than £100,000 to do it. I'm glad the people involve in preparing the train weren't involved in the war. We'd still be fighting it now! ValentineKing
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