Kent Rail


Pullman Kitchen Car


In conjunction with the Brighton Line electrification, the Southern Railway ordered thirty-eight Pullman vehicles from the Pullman Car Company, the latter subcontracting the building task to Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage, Wagon & Finance Co. Ltd. The vehicles were all-steel in construction, and fifteen were split among three five-car all-Pullman electric multiple units. The other twenty-three Pullmans of this batch were built as standalone vehicles, being incorporated into 6-PUL and 6-CITY EMU formations. In brief, 6-PUL units comprised five standard SR vehicles, and within this formation was a Pullman kitchen car; 6-CITY units, which totalled three, were deployed on the Brighton to London Bridge route, and like the 6-PUL units, incorporated a Pullman Kitchen Car. All vehicles were completed during 1932, and ‘’Gwen’’ was formally deployed on 1st January 1933, as part of 5-BEL unit No. 2053, on the commencement of the Brighton Line's accelerated timetable.

5-BEL Unit No. 2053:


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

Notes: Unit renumbered to 3053, effective from 01/01/1937; service known as ‘’Brighton Belle’’ from 29th June 1934; three 5-BEL units cost a total of £205,000 (about £10,202,300 at 2007 prices); service suspended on 3rd September 1939, reinstated in 1940, suspended again on 22nd May 1942, and again reinstated on 1st May 1946.

The three all-Pullman 5-BEL units operated the Central Section’s ‘’Southern Belle’’ service, which had originally been inaugurated by the LB&SCR in November 1908 as a steam-hauled luxury train. The advent of the steel-built cars which formed the electric units resulted in the withdrawal of the timber-built Pullmans of the existing service – many of these subsequently became bungalow extensions in Sussex.

Unit No. 2053 was overhauled at Eastleigh in 1969, and was re-commissioned into traffic in May of that year. The renowned Umber and Crème Pullman ‘’New Standard’’ colours had been replaced by the 1965-launched BR Blue and Grey scheme, as applied to all ‘’main line’’ stock. Full yellow warning panels had appeared on the driving cars, and the Pullman vehicle names had given way to ‘’BRIGHTON BELLE’’ text. Now without names, the Pullman cars were designated by their schedule numbers, ‘’Gwen’’ subsequently becoming No. S281S. Sadly, the overhauls at Eastleigh did not ensure service longevity, and the last ‘’Brighton Belle’’ service ran on 30th April 1972, all units going into storage at sidings in Brighton. None of the redundant vehicles were, however, destined for the scrap yard, and the fifteen Pullman cars of the three 5-BEL units were dispersed to several private owners. After withdrawal, ‘’Gwen’’ was dispatched to ‘’The Horseless Carriage’’ restaurant in Chingford Hatch, Essex, where it became the main dining room. The carriage returned to railway surroundings in 1981, when it arrived at the Colne Valley Railway, initially on loan, but later becoming a permanent resident.

‘’Gwen’’ was purchased by the VSOE Company in 1988, and transferred from the Colne Valley Railway to the former’s carriage shed at Stewarts Lane. Rather than being deployed immediately into main line service, the vehicle spent over a decade in store, becoming part of the VSOE ''Reserve Fleet''. After restoration, which included a complete rewire, the Kitchen Car became an active member of the British Pullman fleet in 1999. Whilst ‘’Gwen’’ went from the Colne Valley to the VSOE, Pullman cars ‘’Hermione’’ (formerly ‘’No. 36 THIRD CLASS’’) and ‘’Aquila’’ (Kitchen Car) went in the opposite direction. Both vehicles had been restored by the VSOE Company at Stewarts Lane – Aquila had been fully refurbished, whilst Hermione had been treated externally only.

Additional Notes [Gwen: As Built]


June 1985


''Gwen'' is seen at Castle Hedingham station, during its stay on the Colne Valley Railway. The carriage is seen

wearing the revised Pullman crest, and looks unusual without the umber lining around the windows.

Mike Glasspool


21st June 2007


In sparkling condition, Pullman First Class Kitchen Car ''Gwen'' is seen at Folkestone Harbour, forming part

of the present day ''VSOE British Pullman''. ''Early'' style Pullman crests have been restored, and the vehicle

has been subject to a complete repaint. David Glasspool



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