After enjoying a rail holiday with a difference a year or so ago, courtesy of the amiable Lizzy and Dave Stroud, my family and I jumped at the chance of reviewing their latest holiday offering: Mevy, a GWR slip coach.
For anyone wanting the lowdown on the Strouds’ innovative business (basically, converting old railway carriages into holiday lets), check out the other review on this site, spotlighting The Travelling Post Office.
Here’s a basic summary: Lizzy and Dave, true railway enthusiasts, have bought nine railway carriages over the years and converted four, including Mevy (where we stayed) into self-catering holiday lets. All, with the exception of Harvey, over in Hayle, are situated within their grounds alongside their station home in south-east Cornwall.
In fact, The Travelling Post Office (TPO No. 841) – a gem of a carriage – sits on a siding adjoining the station platform at St Germans, a live station on the Plymouth-Penzance main line. So while enjoying your tea, you can look out for one of the 20 or so stopping trains which pull up at the station each day.
As one would expect from the Strouds, they have painstakingly restored Mevy, leaving no stone unturned in bringing it back to its former glory.
Although positioned on the Strouds’ land, just in front of their house, Mevy is fenced off and feels private, boasting its own parking space and room for children to play. Hollie and Peter loved playing Swingball, just outside the carriage, and popping up to the children’s play area, next to The Travelling Post, to play air hockey.
Built in 1897, Mevy (GWR 1091) is the only remaining GWR slip coach in existence. For all those wondering what a slip coach is, it was attached to a fast train. Instead of having to stop at a station, the guard would uncouple the slip coach as it was moving and bring it to a halt. So, each slip coach had to provide a range of accommodation. Mevy, therefore, had 1st, 2nd and 3rd class as well as a guard’s compartment – and the Strouds have considered this whilst renovating the coach. Take the 1st class bedroom, for starters: they’ve recreated the sumptuous nature of its original form and done a fantastic job – as they have throughout the coach.
When assessing whether Mevy has what it takes to make a holiday enjoyable, the answer is quite simply, “yes”. It’s equipped with everything you need and you’re made to feel welcome the moment you walk through the door. We were surprised to find a splendid welcome pack waiting for us, containing all the essentials needed to get us up-and-running, plus a packet of handmade Cornish shortbread chocolate and clotted cream biscuits, a bottle of delicious Cornish apple juice and strawberry country wine.
The carriage’s kitchen was well stocked with equipment and we enjoyed cooking meals in the carriage, although there are plenty of places to eat out within the area. It didn’t feel cramped, even with four of us in the coach, and you didn’t feel as if you were making do; it really did have everything needed for an enjoyable break.
From St Germans, it’s easy to explore south-east Cornwall. We visited the picturesque coastal town of Looe and, just along the coast, Polperro; and whenever we’re in this part of the world, we always don hiking boots and walk along the coast path.
As well as running the day-to-day operation of Railholiday, Lizzy and Dave have plenty of other projects planned. I can’t wait until they’ve renovated Queen Victoria’s Royal Saloon. Built in 1897, it looks a sorry state at present but won’t be by the time the Strouds have finished with it.
One of five coaches built by GWR in 1897 to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee, Lizzy and Dave have been lucky enough to get their hands on one; that will be worth another visit!
Cornwall PL12 5LU
T: 01503 230783