High Cross Camping Coach
High Cross Cottage, Netherbury, DT6 5NH
01308 488701

The principal accommodation in this most unusual self-catering holiday let is a restored and converted 1880 London, Brighton & South Coast railway carriage. Billie Whitelaw, the much-missed actress, used to have it in her garden. The sumptuous bench-seat folds down into a double bed, and a kitchen, loo and shower have been cleverly installed, as well as a beautiful French stove. A second unusual vehicle, a roadsman’s ‘living’ van that used to be pulled by a steam engine, provides two further beds, ideal for kids.
This charming ensemble is in the back garden of Charles and Marion Gardner’s cottage in Netherbury, with views all round of the Dorset hills. But the treasure of treasures is another restored railway carriage in the front garden, which can also be hired for dinner or tea parties. This is an 1876 First Class Family Saloon from the London & South West Railway that had been parked in Exmouth docks since 1905 and used as a home until Charles bought it to use as a garden shed. One day, fixing it up, he found some samples of upholstery and a newspaper from 1896 under a loose board. “I’ve got to do it,” he said to himself, and began the monumental task of research and restoration to return the carriage to its original deluxe condition, with all fittings and furnishings. It took him 10 years. Charles, a modest man, will show it to you without fanfare. But you may well judge that his achievement and his re-creation are stupendous.