going gff the rails in search of budget breaks.
By Brian Swanson
SPARTAN but comfortable,
railway carriages converted into holiday homes were once a
familiar sight at remote stations in Scotland.
Cheap foreign holidays
all but killed them off but now, in the credit crunch, they're
making a comeback.
The latest carriage to be
converted for a use as a holiday home was officially opened
yesterday on the banks of Loch Awe, near the village of Dalmally,
The coach, which once ran
on the Edinburgh-London line, was used as a tea-room from the
mid-Eighties until last year, when it was converted by
London-based TV producer Daniel Brittain.
He also runs Dunrobin
Castle station museum in Sutherland and formerly lived in a
converted railway station in Caithness.
Mr Brittain said: "This
kind of holiday is more popular because of the credit crunch,
with people harking back to their youth.
"There is a simple charm
about staying in a railway coach."
The British Railways
campingcoaches were popular for summer holidays for struggling
families in the Thirties.
Sites grew up at 30
stations in Scotland from Aboyne, on Royal Deeside, to West
Kilbride, in North Ayrshire, as well as at 100 stations in
England and Wales.
They were phased out by
British Rail in 1971, leaving just a few in private hands.
Mr Brittain said: "There
was a coach on the lochside from 1952 for 10 years.
"Though pretty basic it
was very popular because of the amazing views over the loch.
I've kept as much as possible of the railway atmosphere but it
is more upmarket than the original camping coaches."
His coach, a British
Railways Mark 1, number 4494, was built at York in 1956. It now
has two bedrooms, a fitted kitchen, shower, sitting room and a
Prices range from £350 to
£450 a week depending on the season. The Loch Awe camping coach
is believed to the fourth in Scotland to be reopened for use by
families on self-catering holidays.
The others are in St
Andrews, which charges £130 a night for bed and breakfast,
Glenfinnan, Inverness-shire, which sleeps 10 and charges £12 a
night, and Rogart, Sutherland, which sleeps £20 and charges £14
Kate Roach, who runs the
Rogart business with husband Frank, said: "We get a lot of
repeat business but we are also seeing an increase in people who
are telling us that they want a different type of holiday and,
because of the credit crunch, they want to holiday in this