It took local coach-maker Mark Broadbent 10 months to design and build this beautiful horse-drawn Victorian charabanc for Hampton Court Palace – and it took 25 Clayhidon people to test it for safety and balance.
Mark, Britain’s only master coach maker, who runs Fenix Carriages at Higher Hill Farm, Clayhidon with his wife Joanna, was asked by Historic Royal Palaces to build a vehicle to replace Hampton Court’s horse-drawn tram.
His design incorporates a Victorian look with modern features, including wheelchair access. The traditional exterior hides a steel frame and an ingenious system of steel springs designed to keep the charabanc level and comfortable however many people are on board.
And that’s where the locals came in. Mark asked his neighbour Helen Lancaster to be his recruiting sergeant and she found 24 friends and neighbours who were happy to play a part in load-testing the charabanc and playing a minor part in what one described as “a fascinating project”.