Classic train which carried Harrogate passengers in 1923 is back on track after 88 years

The autocar at Skibeden on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway during brake testing. (Credit: Alan Chandler)
The autocar at Skibeden on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway during brake testing. (Credit: Alan Chandler)

A Guiness World record holding train which worked in and around Harrogate in 1923 is up and running again after 88 years out of service.

Credited by the Guinness World Records organisation as being the world’s first internal combustion – electric railcar, the autocar was the origin of today’s passenger trains.

Sir Ron Cooke, Chair of Yorkshire and Humber Heritage Lottery Fund Committee and Stephen Middleton, Chairman of the NER 1903 Electric Autocar Trust will formally launch the ‘autocar’ and trailer coach into traffic at midday, October 19 at Embsay Station, near Skipton.

Two were built in 1903 by the North Eastern Railway at York Carriage Works and operated on railways around Yorkshire and the north-east.

Withdrawn in 1931, the body of the first was used as a holiday home until it was purchased in 2003 for restoration.

A charitable trust was formed, led by Stephen Middleton, an experienced vintage carriage restorer, and with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers and a £531,000 National Lottery grant the body has been repaired and restored to a very high standard.

The autocar is now scheduled for regular public services in 2019 on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway, with the possibility of visits elsewhere.

Stephen Middleton said, “We could not have restored the autocar without the Heritage Lottery Fund and the support of National Lottery players or the dedication and generosity of our membership.

“As well as the grant award, we were also fortunate in receiving support from PRISM and the Ken Hoole Trust. The Transport Trust also advanced a loan facility of £46,000. My grateful thanks to all of them.

“I am immensely proud of our achievement in restoring this ‘missing link’ between the steam and diesel eras”.