A NEW lease of life has been given to a rare 1936 banana wagon.

The restored banana wagon, originally built by the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway, is the newest accommodation at Yorkshire Wolds Glamping in Weaverthorpe.

Restoration of a second former railway wagon on the site is also well under way, with completion scheduled for late June.

The banana wagon was built in Darlington and transported the fruit right across the UK. It was steam heated, which meant that the bananas could be ripened in transit. The import of bananas was stopped during the Second World War, as they were thought to be a luxury item, and after the war, the wagon might have resumed its life transporting bananas, or it may have been used to transport other goods.

In the 1960s, much old railway rolling stock was sold off, after the Beeching Report reduced the size of the network and changed the way railways transported freight for ever. Five railway wagons – including the banana wagon – ended up in their current location in Weaverthorpe, where they were used for storage on a smallholding until two years ago when owner Tracy Chapman, 46, bought the site and set up Yorkshire Wolds Glamping.

Tracy said: “Renovation started on the banana wagon in November 2015, and it took six months to transform it in to new glamping accommodation. The work has been a real family affair, and truly a labour of love.

“We have tried to renovate the wagon as sympathetically as possible, retaining many of its original features, such as the metalwork and the original roof. Eighty years of wear and tear has meant that the wooden sides and floor have had to be replaced, and of course there are some new features such as insulation and the door and window, which transform a humble railway wagon into comfortable and warm glamping accommodation, ready for its new life.”

The banana wagon joins four upcycled shipping containers already on the site, stunningly converted into overnight ‘pod’ accommodation and located in a beautiful setting on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Tracy said: “The wagon can sleep up to four people in comfort, and boasts its own toilet, heater, bed and sofa bed, along with stunning views over the Yorkshire Wolds. The second wagon to be converted in due course will offer similar facilities and will allow for wheelchair access – and the remaining three wagons will be converted into accommodation as time and finances allow.”

As well as the wagon, each pod on the site offers accommodation for up to a maximum of four people – with beds and electricity, a folding table and chairs, reading lights, a fan for hot weather, coat hooks and coat hangers. Bedding can be provided for a small extra charge.

The immediately adjacent glamping site boasts a new toilet and shower block, a kitchen with fridge, a barbecue area, fire pit and space (an acre and a half) for outdoor socialising, including a covered area, plus a cycle store and ample car parking –and a space to wash dogs, cycles and boots as necessary.

The wagon is available for booking seven nights a week all year round, and the four pods are available for booking seven nights a week until the end of October.

In addition to glamping, the photography side of Tracy’s business continues, with regular courses on offer based at the on-site photography studio – and the chance for participants to stay overnight at the glamping site if they wish – ranging from pet photography through to digital photography for complete beginners.

Tracy said: “Weaverthorpe is perfectly situated close to the Wolds, the North York Moors and the beautiful Yorkshire coast. The glamping site has proved very popular with motorists and cyclists alike, as well as families of all ages – and dog owners are especially welcome, with photo sessions with their pets on site easily arranged.

Bookings for the site, full details of all facilities, prices, and the surrounding area, plus details of photography courses can be made and found at yorkshire-wolds.org.uk.