End of the line for railway houses?
A secret piece of Suffolk's social heritage has come to an end in Darsham, but how about the rest of Suffolk?
They could buy old Victorian railway carriages and build a bungalow around them. A typical example would see three carriages in a U shape placed within the walls of a bungalow facade.
Darsham housed quite a few of these until August 2007, when the last bungalow we know of was pulled down and the carriages transported away.
Story behind a familiar sight
If you use the A12 near Darsham Station, you've probably driven past the site hundreds of times. Maybe you've seen a little pink bungalow nestled quietly behind some old shrubs.
But did you know that this was merely a facade? Behind it lay three third class railway carriages from the Great Eastern railway.
The bungalow facade
They were built in 1895, sold off in 1926 and then the bungalow was built around the carriages in 1927.
Olive Reeve, the local historian for Darsham, and her husband Ron say the unique homes were mostly built in east Suffolk: "What's happened today is tomorrow's history.
"It's an important part of Suffolk's social history which has just about disappeared now."
All of the homes were connected to mains water and electricity, providing a fully functional house for its residents.
Babies were born, people died and meals were eaten, all in the old railway carriages.
But it's unlikely the idea would bear fruit nowadays: "In those days you didn't planning permission to erect this sort of home, just a plot of land and some railway carriages," Olive added.
There were still people living here at Darsham up until 1999.
One of the carriages used as a bathroom
In 2001 The facade of the bungalow was dismantled and in August 2007 the railway carriages were loaded on to a lorry to be transported to Kelsale.
New owner Keith Beecham says they will be restored but their long-term future has not yet been decided: "They may be turned into garden features or possibly a café.
"There are a number of different people with different ideas for them."
Appeal for further examples
The railway carriage houses may have come to an end in Darsham, but how about the rest of Suffolk?
Railway carriages minus the facade
David in Hadleigh was quick to respond to Lesley Dolphin's coverage on BBC Radio Suffolk to let us know that he still lives in two of the carriages in Hadleigh, whilst John in Southwold uses one as a fishing shed.
We'd love to hear your stories of the railway carriage houses, especially if you still own one.
last updated: 14/08/07
Have Your Say
Have you got any memories of the carriage houses? Have your say below and send your photos to email@example.com
CALLEN [The Voice]
J Martin FISKE