Discover the tradition of railway station 'Camping Coaches', the story of the carriage you will stay in, plus meet the operators
So says a British Railways advertising leaflet from last century, extolling the benefits of staying in a Camping Coach.
Between the 1930s and 1970s, Camping Coaches were a popular feature at many West Highland Line stations, providing holiday accommodation for rail-borne tourists.
The railways had played an important role in developing the holiday market, transporting the Victorian masses out to the coast for day trips and as leisure time increased, on holidays.
In the 1930s, luxury train tours were the privilege of the rich. Then in 1933, ordinary folk were able to enjoy the experience of living and sleeping on a railway carriage for a week or so - the Camping Coach was born.
A number of retired passenger vehicles have occupied the spot where the Sleeping Car now stands - one even had a Royal connection.
Described by Andrew McRae in his book British Railways Camping Coach Holidays (Part 2) as 'Perhaps the most distinguished of all camping coaches', was the South Eastern & Chatham Railway's Royal Saloon, which served as a 'Pullman' Camping Coach at Glenfinnan from April 1963 until 1969.
Built in 1903 as 'The King's Saloon' at a cost of £4,170, its final tour of duty in Royal Service was on 24th July 1939 when George VI travelled in it from Portsmouth to London Victoria. It was first converted into holiday accommodation in 1948, and was later fitted out as a 'Pullman' camping coach in late 1962.
A final photo of the coach in McRae's book shows it rather down-at-heel, awaiting disposal in 1970.
The current coach, no. 35215, was built at Wolverton Works in 1958 as part of lot no. 30427. Formerly a BR Mark 1 (designated BSK) with four 2nd class seating compartments, guard’s and luggage area, it was converted to a staff & dormitory vehicle for the Area Civil Engineer, North (based in Perth) in 1978 and renumbered DB975662.
Withdrawn in 1989, the Museum saved it from the cutter’s torch later that year. It now provides self-catering, hostel-style accommodation for visitors and for volunteers.
The Glenfinnan Sleeping Car - Built: 1958 Weight: 34 tons, Length: 64ft 6in
Pictures - Top row L-R: John from Glenfinnan Station Museum in 1991 in the coach which had just arrived on site, and became the Dining Car (the Sleeping Car is behind it in this photo). The 'Pullman' Camping Coach which was at the Station in the 1960s. The interior of the Sleeping Car today
Bottom row L-R: Down-at-heel Station buildings in 1988, which prompted John's vision for the Museum and heritage site, which the Sleeping Car is part of today. Note the sign has been removed from the Signal Box, and the Station brae still has the avenue of Western Red Cedar trees, which now form the woodland walk of the Viaduct Trail
Our family is blessed to live in Glenfinnan, and is delighted to be the new operators of the Glenfinnan Sleeping Car.
Mark was a journalist on the local newspaper, and Ally has more than 20 years' experience working in tourism and customer service.
OUR GREEN STORY
We are on a journey to be more environmentally responsible and 'green'. Our main goals are environmental sustainability and social sustainability.
The Sleeping Car was already being run by folk with very green ethics, so we have decided to take on this mantle as it chimes with our own green principles.
We believe that every little change we can make to lessen our impact in the planet is worth making.
Our other accommodation in Glenfinnan, Back Track Bothies, was built using environmentally-friendly construction techniques and materials, and has a Green Tourism Award. We hope in time to join the Green Tourism Scheme with the Sleeping Car, and go through the same assessment.
All the toiletries and cleaning products we use in the Sleeping Car are refillable and environmentally-friendly. We do not buy single-use plastics and we Reduce, Recycle and Reuse where possible.
Our bedding is either OEKO-TEX or GOTS certified, and most of our duvets and pillows are made from recycled plastic bottles.
There is a green caddy in the kitchen for food waste which is then fed to our chickens. Please leave the caddy for us to empty.
We provide a general waste bin and a recycling bin for clean recycling recyclable items, including food packaging, paper, cardboard, metal etc. See your Digital Guide if you are unsure what goes in the recycling or 'normal' landfill bin.
Our bin bags and caddy bags are biodegradable.
Please be mindful and help us on our 'green path' by cutting down on unnecessary personal use of chemicals and plastic, and remembering to turn off taps, lights and electricals when not in use to save resources. Thank you.
By train: Alight at Glenfinnan Station. From Mallaig, arrive on Platform 2, cross the tracks to Platform 1 (there are crossing points at each end of the platform). Go down the steps and head for the two green and cream train carriages. The Sleeping Car is the carriage on the RIGHT.
From Fort William, arrive on Platform 1, go down the steps and head for the two green and cream train carriages. The Sleeping Car is the carriage on the RIGHT.
By bus: Ask for the stop near Glenfinnan Station. Look for the red phone box and you will see the Station at the top of the brae (slope) next to it. Walk up and the Sleeping Car is the first carriage on the RIGHT.
From the north or south, on the A82: At the roundabout by the BP filling station in Fort William, take the A830 to Glenfinnan. Once you enter Glenfinnan, you will pass the NTS Glenfinnan Monument visitor centre and the Community car park (on your right) before the road goes uphill. You will pass the church (on your left) and the War Memorial (on your left). The Station is the next on the RIGHT.
From the west (Skye, Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig): On the A830, enter Glenfinnan and drive down the hill. You will pass the Prince's House Hotel (on your left) - the Station is next on the LEFT, just after the red phone box.