A Famous Train of the Southern Railway
The “Southern Belle” passing Star Lane.
SIXTY years ago, a Chicago resident named George Pullman conceived the idea that travel in the United States of America might be made much more comfortable if some private individual with sufficient enterprise were to build a more luxurious type of car then ever previously employed, and then either lease the cars to the railways, or pay a rental to the railways for running them and recoup himself by the amounts paid by the passengers in supplementary fares. The idea caught on. Pullman sleeping cars and Pullman drawing-
The progress of the Pullman in Europe has been less rapid. It was in 1875 that the first Pullman car came to England. The Midland Railway, having seven years previously extended its tentacles southwards into its London terminus at St. Pancras, and being anxious to wrest passenger traffic from its old-
Pancras and Manchester. But on the Midland the Pullman idea did not find much favour, for some reason or other, and to-
The next introduction of Pullman cars was in 1879 on the old London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, where, on the short journeys between London and the South Coast resorts, the open type of drawing-
that in the summer of 1927 no less than 114 trains were running daily on the Brighton and South Eastern sections of the Southern with Pullman cars attached – first class only in the latter case, but first and third-
It was in the year 1908 that the first daily all-
An entirely new set of twelve-
therefore decided that the “Southern Belle” should make a couple of additional journeys between her arrival at Brighton at 12 noon and her departure for Victoria at 5.45 p.m. A very quick “turn-
It was therefore realised that four-
During the height of the summer the “Southern Belle” shares with the 10.45 a.m. Pullman boat express to Dover the distinction of being the heaviest Pullman train in the country, and the task before the locomotives of completing the 51 miles between Victoria and Brighton in the hour is by no means an easy one.
In the earlier days of the “Belle” a variety of locomotives undertook its working. Often the four coach train, and at times the seven-
Now, however, in the march of progress, the ubiquitous 4-
hand in running the “Belle” at times, and sometimes also the 2-
5.35 p.m. from Brighton to Victoria.
We shall find the train probably, in the last platform but one at the extreme right-
Once across the river we accelerate rapidly, swinging over the South Western main line to run parallel with it as far as Clapham Junction which we pass at about 45 miles an hour, some six minutes after starting. Between here and Brighton the main line has three well-
On the rising gradients from Clapham to Balham at 1 in 166 and 94, we fall to about 40 m.p.h. or a shade under, but then probably work up to 55 m.p.h. or thereabouts through Streatham Common. On the farther rise, to Selhurst, speed falls again somewhat and is then moderated through the maze of junctions that brings us on to the original London and Brighton main line at Windmill Bridge, just south of Croydon. East Croydon, 10½ miles from the start, is passed in about 16 min, leaving 44 min. only for the remaining 40½ miles to Brighton.
It is a long stretch “against the collar” from Croydon up past Purley and Coulsdon to “Quarry” summit. At Coulsdon we leave behind us the electrified lines and cross over the old joint Brighton and South Eastern tracks to the right of them, on to the avoiding line that the Brighton Company opened in 1900 to give them an independent route from here to Earlswood, on the other side of Redhill, where the original main line is rejoined. Up the 1 in 264 to Coulsdon we maintain 50 an hour, or slightly under, falling to 45 or less on the 1 in 165 ere we enter Quarry Tunnel, which is just over a mile in length.
Then follows a swift dash down past Earlswood to Horley, where we may touch anything from 65 up to 75 m.p.h., according to driver and engine. The impetus of this probably will carry us up the 1 in 264 past Three Bridges to Balcombe Summit, which is just before the entry to Balcombe Tunnel, at between 50 and 55 m.p.h. Then another downward dash past Haywards Heath and Wivelsfield to Keymer Junction, where the Eastbourne line diverges on the left, will produce a second maximum probably over 70 m.p.h. Rising to and through Clayton Tunnel, which also exceeds a mile in length, we probably drop slightly below 50 m.p.h. and then, with very gentle running down the final incline to Preston Park, we draw slowly round the sharp curves and up the long platform at Brighton Central, to a dead stand probably just on the stroke of 12.5 noon. Timekeeping is none too easy with all the congestion of this busy route, but it is seldom that the “Belle” is more than a minute or two out at either end of her journey.
It is of interest to note, by the way, that the fastest time ever achieved between London and Brighton was made by the
The “Southern Belle” in London Brighton & South Coast Railway days. This luxurious train runs daily in each direction between Victoria and Brighton (51 miles) in 60 minutes. On Sundays it consists entirely of 1st class Pullman cars, but on weekdays it has two or three ordinary 3rd class coaches added. It is shown hauled by a 4-
[From The Meccano Magazine, January 1928]