When Fleur and Mike Leslie fell in love with a three-storey wooden loft in Forrest, Victoria, they didn’t expect to find a derelict old train carriage from the 1920s in the property’s backyard.
‘It was painted pink, graffitied, infested with vermin and it had a patchy rotten shingle roof,’ Fleur says. ‘We thought it would be better to remove it but our friend George came from Gippsland to help us renovate the loft, and he was instantly charmed by the old carriage and convinced us that we could make something it.’
Research from train enthusiasts (including help from some of the property’s history loving guests!) have traced the carriage’s history back to 1926. It was built at the Newport Railway Workshop in Melbourne as first-class carriage that transported travellers throughout regional Victoria, and later between Melbourne and Sydney, before being sold in 1983.
When they first acquired the carriage in 2014, Fleur and Mike didn’t have the budget to authentically restore the carriage to its original glory from the Roaring Twenties. Instead, they opted to convert it into a three-bedroom accommodation with a more playful, steampunk theme with five months of renovations. But more recently, they enlisted the help of Belle Hemming Bright to bring in ‘a more elegant 1920’s feel’ to Steam Carriage.
Inside, there’s ornate chandeliers, pressed metal and wood panelling, deep red velvet curtains and a leather lounge. They also sourced authentic vintage furniture from the era, repurposed 1920s gates to make the balustrades and added an outdoor cast-iron bath where guests can relax surrounded by lush greenery and climbing vines!
It’s now a wonderful and romantic homage to the simpler and slower ‘Great Age of Steam’. Fleur says the verandah around the back of the train even ‘feels like a bit of a platform’.
‘Our guest’s feedback suggests that so many people have an incredible nostalgia for train travel,’ Fleur says. ‘If only for a couple of days and nights guests can imagine train travel in the 1920’s, a different world, a different life, then we feel like we have created something unique and some awesome memories for them.’