Railway Vehicle Preservations
Way back in 1968, when steam and the "old railway" were rapidly disappearing a small group of people met in a terraced house in East London and decided to save some of the history that was being lost. At this time many similar groups were evolving, but this one proved to be different; always being far more interested in the more unusual vehicles left on the national system. Initially called the "Lea Valley Railway Carriage and Wagon society" its first purchase was that of a 7 plank open wagon from Cory and sons in Rochester. This went to the Kent and East Sussex railway in 1969. In 1970 the groups name changed slightly, becoming the "Lea Valley Railway Preservation society", the aim being to collect stock for a railway in that area. An LSWR 4 wheeled milk van was purchased in Wiltshire and then moved to Quainton Road (where it remains to this day, having been sold to them in 1983). Back in the Lea Valley a further group ("7597 Fund") was formed to preserve the steam locomotive used at Rye House power station, near Hoddesden, Essex. In 1971 the two groups merged and (using the "7597 fund" name) moved 7597 to Chappel & Wakes Colne - the coal wagon subsequently followed and Chappel became our home for the next 9 years.
Once there good progress was made. 7597 was returned to steam, and several of the vehicles that form the collection today were acquired. The groups name changed in 1975 and became RVP (becoming a limited company in 1981). However, in 1981, a change of home was sought. The Great Central railway, then a relative newcomer to the preservation world, seemed the ideal location. It offered 5 miles of former main line railway to operate 7597 and the operational stock on. Hence RVP moved its stock en-masse and became the railways carriage and wagon department overnight. For the next 8 years RVP members worked not only to restore our own collection but maintained the GCRs ever growing fleet of mark 1 vehicles. This was a period of major change on the Great Central as it moved into the premier league of preservation sites.
In 1989 the GCR began employing paid staff to maintain the service coaches. This enabled RVP members to return to restoring our own collection, and much more rapid progress has been made since that time. Around the same time the GCR built Rothley carriage shed, and RVP moved from Loughbrough in 1991; it remains our home to this day. Facilities there are limtied but the existance of covered accomodation allowed major rebuilds to be tackled. This in turn enabled us to become more focussed. After a period on loan to other railways (notably Peak Rail and Bodmin Steam Rly) the steam loco 7597 was sold to Peak Rail in 2001.
Over 40 years after that first meeting in East London, RVP has successfully adapted to thrive in the ever changing world of railway preservation. We remain a small group with limited resources. However that has never stopped our volunteer teams from striving to reach the highest possible standards. In recent years we have won 5 Leicestershire Heritage awards for restoration projects and special events. In 2003 we won a Transport Trust award for vehicle restoration, followed (in 2007) by a Heritage Railway Association award for the restoration of Beavertail car 1719E.
This recognition, and the much appreciated support of the local museums service, led us to seek charitable status. This was granted in December 2002. We now work to a clear aim of restoring and maintaining carriages of the London and North Eastern Rly and railway postal equipment. In 2005 we took a lease on the former Mountsorrel Railway formation from Swithland; we are now working to restore this section and hope it may provide secure covered accomodation for our collection into the future. The following pages will show how we are working towards these aims.