A 1940s railway brake van struck by arsonists in Brechin has risen from the ashes.
The beloved brake van has been given a new lease of life following over a year of hard work by volunteers at the Caledonian Railway.
The restoration project was completed at the railway on Saturday when a ceremony was held to celebrate the achievement and offically name the brake van ‘Phoenix’.
Andy Pegg from the Caledonian Railway said: “We are very pleased to see that our beloved brake van has been given a new lease of life.
“If it was not for the generous donations from members of the community and local businesses, this piece of history may not have survived for future generations to enjoy.
“We were all truly amazed by the support we received and are very grateful to those who contributed to the appeal.
“The rebuild took over a year to complete and the work was carried out by two of our dedicated volunteers, Chris Pegg and Kaine Bisset, with the majority of the works being completed during their summer breaks from university and college.
“The brake van now looks as good as new, having had all the timber frame, cladding and some metalwork completely replaced with new materials.
“The brake van, now named Phoenix, will provide many more years of service at the railway, transporting passengers, volunteers and equipment along the branch line.”
The Caley Railway previously spent £5,000 and four months painstakingly restoring the 1949 LMS brake van and work was completed in December 2014.
The vehicle went back into use almost straight away but its new lease of life was short-lived when the brake van was destroyed after being set alight by vandals in April 2016.
Volunteers set up the Rebuild The Brechin Brake Van appeal to help raise funds to contribute towards the cost of the restoration.
Christopher Pegg, 22, a final year mechanical engineering student at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and volunteer at the railway, took charge of the restoration project in May 2017.
A copy of the original general arrangement drawing was obtained from the National Railway Museum in York.
The steel frame of the brake van was then cleaned up and painted ready for the new wooden frame to be fitted.
The wooden frame of the brake van was complete in September 2017, with the next step being the painting of the internals and externals of the vehicle.
Another one of the enthusiastic volunteers, Kaine Bisset, 19, stepped in to help Chris with painting the vehicle, spending many evenings after college working away on recreating the classic ‘blood and custard’ colour scheme in the cabin.
The brake van was built by British Rail at Derby Carriage and Wagon works in 1949.
It spent all of its working life travelling up and down the British Isles on the back of goods trains.
As time progressed, more and more wagons were fitted with their own braking systems, gradually making brake vans redundant.
Subsequently, British Rail began selling them off to scrapyards in their thousands.
Back in 1990, when the preservation of the Brechin to Bridge of Dun branch line was in its infancy, several volunteers visited Arnott Young Scrap Merchants in Glasgow to inquire about purchasing one of the brake vans.
A bid to save the vehicle from the cutter’s torch was successful and it moved to Brechin in 1990.