A BID to restore the York-built grandfather of modern trains to its former glory has secured £465,800 in Lottery cash.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded the grant to restore the world’s first electric autocar and accompanying 1904 autocoach.

As the first train to be powered by a petrol electric engine, the autocar was built in York in 1903 and is the forerunner of today’s modern trains.

The four-year volunteer-led project, to be run by the NER 1903 Electric Autocar Trust, will see the train and accompanying autocoach restored and brought to life for use on heritage railways in the Craven area of North Yorkshire.

When complete, the train will carry passengers again for the first time in over 80 years.

The work will start shortly at Embsay, near Skipton, and will see the body restored, and a new engine, generator, controls and brakes fitted. There will be opportunities for volunteers to get involved, in particular for people with electrical, pipe fitting, welding, painting and woodworking skills keen to experience working in the heritage sector.

The train, when finished, will be accessible to the public, and equipped with the latest audio visual techniques will act as a mobile classroom for schools and community groups so they can learn all about the development of rail transport from steam travel, to present day.

Fiona Spiers, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “This project to restore the predecessor to modern rail transport is fascinating. Not only will it preserve a precious relic from our industrial past, it will also provide many opportunities to get involved and develop skills as part of the restoration, which is great news for people in the area.”

Stephen Middleton, Harrogate coach restorer and NER 1903 Electric Autocar Trust chairman, originally bought the autocar body from a landowner who had used it as a holiday home since 1930.

He said: “We are delighted that the HLF has recognised the importance of this train and our restoration and educational plans.

“This, with smaller grants from the Ken Hoole Trust and PRISM (The Fund for the Preservation of Industrial and Scientific Material) has given us the boost we need to complete the project within an ambitious timetable.”