Kent Rail


Pullman Parlour First


This was one of seven Pullman carriages originally ordered by the LNER in 1938, building work being subcontracted to the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company. Materials were accumulated, but declaration of war in the following year put a halt to assembly, which had yet to get underway. It was not until after nationalisation that the original order was completed, and the seven Pullman vehicles eventually emerged for 11th June 1951, to become part of the celebratory ‘’Festival of Britain Golden Arrow’’ luxury train set.


1938 Vehicle Orders

BRC&WC: Completed 1951



Livery: Pullman ‘’New Standard’’ Umber and Crème


All vehicles of the 1951 batch were fitted with LNER Gresley-designed four-wheel bogies, and the lavatory windows were now square with rounded corners, rather than oval, as per earlier carriages. Cygnus remained as part of the ''Golden Arrow'' fleet for the rest of its operational career. In 1968 the vehicle emerged, after overhaul, in British Rail's ''Reverse'' Blue and Grey livery, which involved applying blue on the upper body side, around the windows, and grey to the lower body side. Pullman vehicle ''Leona'' had been similarly treated in the previous year, but later repaints in 1969 saw the application of the more conventional Corporate Blue and Grey livery, as pioneered on main line coaching stock from 1965 onwards. The name ‘’Cygnus’’ was no more, and where this title formerly resided was now proclaimed ‘’GOLDEN ARROW’’. The remaining Pullman vehicles within the Golden Arrow formation (numerous Second Class BR Mk 1 carriages having by this time appeared in the service) were now simply designated by their original schedule numbers: ‘’Cygnus’’ subsequently became No. S308S. The Pullman carriages of the Brighton Belle sets had received identical treatment whilst undergoing overhaul at Eastleigh Works during the same period. No. S308S last ran in scheduled BR service on 30th September 1972, as part of the final Golden Arrow service between Victoria and Dover Marine. It was immediately dispatched to sidings at Brighton for storage, pending a decision on its future use. Initially, it was mooted that the carriage could serve as a static restaurant, but in 1973 it was purchased by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries, and subsequently left Sussex for Tyneside. Spending three years in store there, it was transferred to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in 1976. It was based on the latter for barely a year when, in 1977, it was purchased by the VSOE company and transferred to Stewarts Lane. In 1979 it was transported by road to the 10,000 square foot VSOE workshop in Carnforth for a complete overhaul and restoration programme. This included replacing the square lavatory windows with the earlier oval-shaped variants, and the installation of air braking. As per all other VSOE Pullman vehicles, ‘’Cygnus’’ was completely rewired and provided with Electric Train Heating (ETH). The restored carriage was put on display at London Victoria in November 1981, at the official launch of the VSOE British Pullman.


Additional Notes [Cygnus: As Built]



21st June 2007


Pullman Parlour First ''Cygnus'', in sparkling condition, is depicted at a sorry-looking Folkestone Harbour

station. The original intention was to also run the British Pullman fleet on the Continent, taking the carriages

over the Channel by boat, in ''Night Ferry'' style. Unfortunately, the vehicles did not meet the safety criteria

required on mainland Europe, although the VSOE company did acquire Continental Pullman vehicles, formerly

of the CIWL, for this purpose. David Glasspool



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