On the 17th March the NER 1903 autocar had a morning’s test running on the Great Central Railway. This followed earlier runs in the GCR’s Loughborough shed and a run within station limits at Loughborough a week earlier. The engineering team were pleased with the test, which went well, with the only issue being a warm axle box.

The York built 1903 autocar was the world’s first train to be powered by a petrol-electric engine and was the forerunner of today’s modern trains. The test was a major milestone in the restoration of this pioneering vehicle, which last moved under power in 1931. After withdrawal, the body became a holiday home for 75 years before being bought for restoration. The powerunit is new, based around a Cummins unit and the chassis is an adapted and strengthened GNR 1920 model. The Trust restoring the autocar has been fortunate to attract several grants, including one from the Heritage Lottery Fund for £531,000 and these have made a significant difference to the project. A loan from the Transport Trust was also gratefully received.

Restoration of the autocar’s body is currently taking place on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway. The restoration of the unpowered trailer ‘autocoach’ is well advanced and the Trust expects it to run later this year.

One of our volunteers was able to film the morning’s test:


and the test driver also shot footage:


Volunteers and donations to help complete the restoration would be very welcome.

Notes to editors about the Heritage Lottery Fund:

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery @HLFYandH

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