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Seymour’s royal carriage restoration funding boost

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By Pam Kiriakidis

SEYMOUR Railway Heritage Centre has received a funding boost through the State Government’s tourist and heritage rail sector to support operations and to protect the state’s rail assets.

Across the state, 16 tourist and heritage rail operators received a total of $620,000.

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Seymour Railway Heritage Centre president John Croft said he was ‘pleased’ with the funding from the government, which he said would help with the repair and restoration of their projects.

The centre will use $47,500 in funding for State Car 5, a historic carriage that dates to 1951.

The carriage was used for royal visits and the state governor when travelling.

“It was one of so-called royal carriages on the royal train. Most notably, it was used extensively in the 1954 coronation tour of Queen Elizabeth, and the way stage carriages have worked in the history of the Victorian railways was that they were only ever used by the state governor or for royal visits,” Mr Croft said.

Mr Croft said the plan was to update the electrical, air conditioning and plumbing of the carriage and restore it to its former glory.

“That’s what the plan is – we’ll get those funds and get some work undertaken then the carriage can be back out featuring in our royal train products that we have at Seymour,” he said.

He said Seymour Heritage Railway Centre was working on a project list ‘as long as your arm’, developing carriages and projects to offer the community.

“The business model we’re trying to pursue at Seymour is to have premium heritage trains doing things like silo art tours,” he said.

“You need high-quality rolling stock and our task is to restore the heritage rolling stock to a high quality, and then we can put premium products into the tourist marketplace and make enough money to pay for the cost of running those trains and also to contribute to restoring further rolling stock.”

Mr Croft is also president of Railway and Tramway Heritage Victoria, RHTV – a newly incorporated body representing 21 organisations responsible for heritage and trams across the state.

Established only a few weeks ago, the presidency of the state body will allow Mr Croft to work on the administration and volunteer capacity of all railways centres.

He said sporadic State Government grants were not enough for volunteers to rely on.

“If we’re going to have serious heritage and rail tram sector here in Victoria, what we really need is recurrent funding – we need the government to take it seriously and provide some recurrent funding, so that would be my next discussion with government,” he said.

“What the government is trying to do with RTHV is trying to get the heritage rail and trams sectors more coordinated than it has been in the past and also that is has one voice with various government authorities.”

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