VOLUNTEERS at the Blunsdon and Cricklade Railway have spent the morning surveying the damage caused by a devastating blaze on Friday.

A fire broke out at around 6pm which destroyed a rare Thumper train as well as three adjacent wagons used for storage.

The train, only one of three in the UK, is valued at more than £100,000 but it could be some days until the true cost of the incident is known.

Dave Peacey, one of the trustees, has described the fire as ‘sickening’ but says he has been heartened by the support from those within the railway community.

“We are coming to terms with it but were very despondent when we saw it for the first time,” he said.

“The unit is now scrap and the wagons next to it will be written off. It is sickening but we shall overcome it and beat whatever problems come up.

“The response of the other railways has been phenomenal. Within an hour of the news breaking we had already received a call from Kent, the Spa Valley Railway, offering assistance.

“Heritage Railway have contacted us and they’re putting out an appeal so that’s nice.”

The Diesel-Electrical Multiple Unit, built in 1964, is lovingly called a Thumper because of the noise it makes when travelling.

It has been with the railway for just over ten years and had recently been refurbished.

Dave said: “Only earlier this year, we spent six weeks refurbishing the whole of the inside of the Thumper and now it’s gone.

“There’s now only two more left in country so that’s even harder to accept.”

The railway, which is run entirely by volunteers, has insurance so should be able to recover some of the cost but much of what has been destroyed is irreplaceable as it is no longer manufactured.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, along with the police, were called to the scene shortly after 6pm. The cause of the fire is still unknown and a full investigation has begun.

The railway is closed throughout Saturday but, as the incident took place down the track away from the main station, it will be open as normal on Sunday.

Dave said: “We have closed today because there is a lot of work to be done. We have to get in a new crew but we will be open tomorrow. It’s a case of doing the best we can with what we can.”