Joinery students from South Eastern Regional College (SERC) recently restored a 1911 vintage handcart back to its former glory with their project leader Patrick O’Hare who has since retired from the college.
The project took the students a total of six months to complete and gave them a unique opportunity to put the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom into practice.
The cart is now on proud display at the historic Downpatrick and County Down railway.
The handcart was originally used on Ardglass Harbour by maintenance men to carry tools up and down the pier and railway, and was in a terrible state when donated to the railway a couple of years ago.
As the students began working on the cart, they realised it would be more challenging than first thought as the existing wood was rotting.
To overcome this problem, the wood was replaced with replica pine wooden wheels.
However any wood that could have been saved, was restored.
The only original parts remaining are the axel, the bracers and the wheel “tyres” which were all handcrafted by the talented students.
Throughout the project the joinery students overcame various other challenges with the cart.
They ensured a high level of accuracy to detail was put in and used specialist, heritage joinery skills.
Hand routeing of the wheels and body proved to be a challenge but this was a great experience for the students.
Downpatrick and County Down Railway carriage and wagon officer Dave Smith could barely disguise his delights at the restoration of the handcart when it was unveiled.
He said: “it is a true work of craft, skills and art.
“The cart was pretty rotten but the new wood was patterned from the original using as many original components as possible and so is a faithful restoration and replica.
“Well done to Patrick’s Joinery team at SERC who have worked tirelessly throughout the year to restore this antique 1911 luggage cart to return it to its former glory. It looks amazing. Everything has been hand crafted and finished to the highest standard of craftsmanship.”