Luxury and service for long distance travel
The introduction of Pullman Cars to Great Britain heralded an era of luxury travel for railway passengers, epitomised by famous trains such as the ‘Golden Arrow’, ‘Tees Tyne Pullman’ and the ‘Brighton Belle’.
Pullman trains offered more luxurious accommodation than ordinary mainline trains and customers were treated to an outstanding level of service on board. The immaculate Umber and Cream coloured carriages were a sight to behold and Pullman was the only way to travel.
Whether travelling first or third class, luxury available for a supplement
The Pullman Car Company operated their luxurious vehicles on some of the express services of the old railway companies. It offered high speed travel at supplementary fares in carriages which provided standards of opulent elegance and personal service which have never been surpassed. It is for this reason that the word ‘Pullman’ has come to mean all that is best in rail travel.
The Railway has two third class Pullman cars that are used on special trains and occasions, emulating a style of opulent travel from an age gone by. Delivered new together in 1930 to the LNER as no.’s 83 and 84. Theses centre-corridor cars were built by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Co. Ltd. at Smethwick in 1930 and boasted the most up to date features of the time including electrically heated water system for use during the summer when steam heating from the locomotive was not in use.
Although most of its time was spent on the London & North Eastern Railway system and the Eastern Region of British Railways, both cars also spent time on the Southern Region and were in the formation of the first run of the ‘Bournemouth Belle’. After another spell on the Eastern Region, the car returned to the Southern in 1961 and was used on many Pullman services there.
On withdrawal the two went their separate ways, to eventually be re-united on the KWVR where passengers are amazed that this luxury was only classified Third Class.
Car no. 83 – ‘Ann’
Car 83 was withdrawn from service in 1968 and sold to Bulmer Cider Company, along with 4 other Pullman Coaches for a total of £3,600. In the 1970’s it went on to form part of a promotional train which was hauled by GWR ‘King’ Class locomotive No. 6000 ‘King George V’, particularly in the Swindon and Oxford areas. By the 1980’s British Rail increased their certification criteria of privately owned coaches being allowed to work on the mainline and so the coach became part of a static walk-through exhibit on cider making.
By the mid 1980’s the coach had been sold to the Bluebell Railway in Sussex until the ban on wooden bodied coaches on the mainline meant that the operators of the British Arm of the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express (VSOE) exchanged a number of coaches for steel bodied ones with the Bluebell. Due to the coach being a Third Class vehicle it was never modernised or returned to mainline use and was to spend the next 20 years being held in store at their London depot.
With no operational use for no. 83, VSOE was placed on long term loan to the KWVR in return for its restoration to running condition. This in itself has not been an easy task as the interior had been removed by Bulmers when the coach was used as a walk-through exhibit. Restoration included manufacture of new tables, enlarging seats obtained from Brighton Belle cars, a full electrical rewire, refitting of steam heat, a brake overhaul and repairs to the badly corroded bodywork. The term of the loan was 10 years on completion of repairs and entry into service. This loan agreement came to an end in August 2019 and the Railway exercised its option to buy Car 83 which was completed in February 2020
During this time, with Car 84 named ‘Mary’ in honour of our late President’s wife, no. 83 was named ‘Ann’ after our current President, Mrs. Ann Cryer.
Car no. 84 – ‘Mary’
Car no.84 came to the KWVR in 1966, having been purchased by the late Ron Ainsworth who named it ‘Lorna’ after his wife. Following his death Mrs Ainsworth kindly sold the vehicle to the KWVRPS to ensure its long term future and continued well-being. Since then, the car has had a full external restoration to the highest standards and received considerable attention to the underframe to replace corroded members and prevent deterioration.
ln 1977, as a mark of thanks for his efforts and goodwill since the early days of the preservation society, it was decided that the car should be renamed ‘Mary’ in honour of the Society President’s wife, Bishop Eric Treacy. His wife, Mary, performed the simple naming ceremony in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire and the Mayor of Bradford at Keighley Station on 19th March1977.
‘Mary’ has been a regular in service on the Railway’s premier dining services and on special occasions but is now showing its age and a further refurbishment is not too far away.