What The Sunday Post Said
 

 

May 24, 2009

Camping coaches could
be perfect for the
credit crunch!

By James Millar

PLENTY of people will be travelling by train to head off on holiday this summer.

But how about actually spending the week on a train ... without moving anywhere?

To be more accurate we're talking about a train carriage.

Daniel Brittain has just refurbished one as a holiday home in the stunning surroundings of Loch Awe.

But it's not a new idea. Camping coaches were popular 50 years ago and with the credit crunch forcing folk to holiday in the UK again Daniel reckoned the time was right for a comeback.

He explained, "I've reached an age, 55, where I get nostalgic for the simpler, happy-go-lucky holidays of my youth. I thought that if I'm nostalgic then others are bound to be too.

Discovered

"I stayed on a camping coach when I was small. When I discovered this one at Loch Awe I was amazed no-one had done anything with it sooner."

The coach had been in position between Loch Awe and the local station since the mid-1980s. Latterly it had been used as a cafe.

Daniel was holidaying in the area three years ago and looking for a cup of tea when he came across the carriage.

"I knew it as the tea train but when I went along I found it closed up and clearly it had been that way for some time.

"I'd wanted to do up a camping coach for ages and so I spent a fair bit of the remainder of my holiday tracking down the owners who, it turned out, were happy to sell."

Daniel found experts who could make sure the refurbishment was authentic and work began in February last year.

The coach was officially opened by House Of Cards author Michael Dobbs last week who described it in the visitor's book as "The gateway to heaven".

Daniel is in charge of BBC Parliament in London, the digital TV channel dedicated to broadcasting coverage of the Commons, Lords and national assemblies.

"Because I'm based in London it took twice as long to get the coach finished. I'd be up there during holidays and weekends."

Though he now lives in London Daniel lived in Clackmannanshire for 26 years and worked for STV.

He added, "I love the Highland scenery and I love railway buildings. The camping coach
combines the two.

"Loch Awe is one of the most beautiful locations not just in Scotland but in the world. The view from the coach is truly stunning.

"I much prefer the emptiness of the Scottish scenery to the simple, pretty English countryside."

The Loch Awe camping coach has two bedrooms and sleeps up to five people. The trains on the nearby line aren't a nuisance, only three a day amble by.

Prices start at 350 per week compared to around 3 for the original camping coaches.

But with a shower and TV it's considerably more upmarket than the coaches of yesteryear.

First opened in the 1930s they provided basic accommodation with no electricity and water was dropped off by passing trains.

Holiday lets

But they were hugely popular as cheap and cheerful holiday lets. At their height there were 30 across Scotland and three times as many south of the border in the 1950s and '60s. Sadly, all had gone by the 1970s.

The coach is not the first railway-related project Daniel's taken on. He refurbished Scotscalder station in Caithness as a home and set up Dunrobin Castle Station Museum.

"I love railway buildings, I can't see a derelict one without wanting to take it under my wing and renovate it."

But he stressed with a laugh, "I have a slightly depressing interest in railway stuff but I've never stood on a platform taking down train numbers!"
 

 

See also the write-ups in 

'The Guardian',
'Heritage Railway',  'The Scotsman'
and the
'Scottish Daily Express'.