Carriage Refurbishment 2012/13  
Completed by Watts Design of Bratton Flemming 
The winter of 2011-12 saw the start of an extensive refurbishment of the Cliff Railway carriages, this was undertaken by Watts’s Design of Bratton Flemming. (The pictures illustrate some of the deterioration). It was going to be a major task not only to rebuild but also to source the materials required, as the cars were originally constructed with pitch pine not readily available today. The first one to be refurbished would be the North carriage. On arrival at Watts design workshops the car was carefully unloaded from the trailer and positioned outside the entrance to the workshops so that a purpose made marque could be erected to completely cover the carriage. 
The Carriage could start being stripped down, the fibreglass roof was removed first to reveal the original slatted roof timbers, (rightup to 1973 these were covered with canvas, that was tensioned to make a waterproof cover). Some deterioration was found in a small number of the timbers, all of this would need to be removed and replaced. We could now start removing the windows and the ply sides of the carriage, this would reveal all sorts of problems, the deterioration of some of the timbers was far worse than we could of imagined, but we were assured by Watts Design that it could be overcome. Some very detailed repairs would need to be done cutting timbers back and scarfing in new pieces, some of which were very small indeed.  
Many painstaking hours were spent preserving the interior of the carriage most of which is original. Most of the exterior parts of the timber window frames were replaced, being very careful not to damage the interior woodwork. The tension wires that help to hold the carriage timber carcase and joints from distorting run the full length on each side of the cars these were replaced using new stainless steel wires and turnbuckles, as the old steel assemblies were in very poor condition. 
Two new doors were made for the front and rear of each carriage, as the old ones had seen many years of use, all the windows have been fitted with laminated safety glass, some of which had to be specially made due to their shape. All of the of the bolts which hold the carriage to its steel frame were checked and replaced as required with stainless steel, these frames retain the leaf springs on which the carriages both sit, these were replaced only a few years ago in anticipation of the refurbishment.  
With most of the hidden work now completed the carriage could start being put back together, new certified ply sides were fitted and the roof could be fibre glassed, it was now beginning to look like a carriage again. All new mouldings were formed ready to be fitted after all bare wood had been primed, anew breathable paint would be used to help preserve the woodwork by allowing it to breath. This would now need many coats of paint to build up a protective layer against the elements, so that the carriage would be ready to put into service for the coming season. The refurbishment of the south carriage was very much the same as the North some timbers were affected in slightly different places, but in the main the same work had to be carried out. Both cars are now in tip top condition with thanks to John and Mike and Lori Watts and all the team at Watts Design.