Kent Rail

Barbara

Pullman Kitchen Car

 

Pullman cars had been a regular sight on LB&SCR and SE&CR networks, and the Southern Railway decided to maintain a close relationship with the Pullman Car Company after the Grouping. In 1925, the SR ordered six ‘’slim’’ Pullman vehicles for use on the restricted Hastings route in-between Tunbridge Wells Central and Bopeep Junction. Unfortunately, the contractor originally hired by the SER during the route’s construction had built the line on the cheap. This had involved lining the tunnels with too few layers of brick, and to prevent collapse, the SER had to quickly add further brick layers just before the line’s opening. Double-track was, nevertheless, maintained through the tunnel sections, but much of the larger standard-sized vehicles that later appeared on the SE&CR network was unable to clear the tunnels. Thus, carriage stock has for long been tailor-made for this particular line.

Notes: All cars were fitted with twenty seats

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

 

The Pullman cars were completed in January 1926 by contractor Metropolitan Cammell Carriage, Wagon & Finance Co. at Saltley Works, Birmingham. Above the chassis, the vehicle bodies were constituted entirely of timber, and were externally completed with a ‘’matchbox’’ finish of vertical wooden strips. The cars were 8-feet 1-inch wide, 11-inches narrower than the all-steel Pullman vehicles which were later constructed during 1932 for the Brighton Line electrification. Pullman cars came no narrower than 8-feet 1-inch, but similarly, 9-feet represented the upper boundary limit, and the forty-four Mk 1 Pullmans constructed during 1960 were built to the latter profile. The ‘’Hastings’’ Pullmans of 1926 were intended as standalone First Class vehicles to be formed within trains of standard SR coaching stock, and the Pullman supplement was 2 shillings (just over £4.00 at 2007 prices). It was not long, however, before change was afoot: in July 1932, all six vehicles of the 1926 batch were dispatched to the Pullman Car Co.’s Preston Park Works, Brighton, for internal remodelling. This sought to increase seating capacity by degrading part of each vehicle from First Class to Third Class. As a result of these modifications, ‘’Barbara’’ re-emerged as a composite, seating twelve First Class and eleven Third Class passengers. The revised cars continued to ply the Hastings route via Tunbridge Wells Central until total withdrawal of all Pullman services across the SR network on the outbreak of war, on 3rd September 1939. Apart from the electric Pullman cars of the ‘’5-BEL’’ and ‘’6-PUL’’ sets on the Central Section, which were re-introduced for the period between 1940 and 1942 inclusive, Pullman vehicles went into store until the end of the conflict.

 

After re-emerging from store, ‘’Barbara’’ was dispatched to Preston Park Works for internal rebuilding. Completed in January 1946, this saw the installation of a bar counter and the reduction of seating to seventeen. The name ‘’Barbara’’ was dispensed with and replaced by ‘’Refreshment Car’’ – the carriage was simply designated by its schedule number 185. Passengers could enjoy a tea with toasted muffins on their journey to the Sussex coast. Three of the 1926 cars, including No. 185, returned to the Hastings line in 1946, but the remaining trio of vehicles were re-assigned to the Western Section. Here, they were formed into Ocean Liner Expresses between Waterloo and Southampton Docks. The Hastings Pullmans remained on their original stomping ground until 9th June 1958, when complete dieselisation of Charing Cross to Hastings services occurred; they were subsequently transferred to the South Western Division, joining the other three Hastings Pullmans on Ocean Liner Expresses between Waterloo and Southampton Docks. In July 1958, all six vehicles lost the distinctive Pullman Umber and Crème colours to an all-over green livery, and simply became designated by their original schedule numbers. The entire batch was subsequently purchased by BR’s Southern Region from the Pullman Car Co. on 5th November 1960, and the carriages were renumbered into the standard SR coaching stock series: No. 185 became No. S7877S. All original Hastings Pullman vehicles of 1926 were withdrawn from service in December 1963, and all were to be dispatched to South Wales for scrapping. A cruel fate awaited wooden-bodied coaches, for it was usually the case that these once proud vehicles were set alight and left to burn over a weekend. Thus, only scrap metal would remain after the fire had been extinguished. The two lucky carriages to escape were Nos. S7874S and S7877S, formerly ‘’Theodora’’ and ‘’Barbara’’ respectively, which were purchased for preservation at Tenderden. The pair arrived at the site in September 1964, by rail, via Robertsbridge.

 

For the first decade of its existence on the preserved Kent & East Sussex Railway, No. S7877S could be found stabled at Rolvenden, in use as a bookstore. It became operational in 1974, after a repaint into Pullman Umber and Crème colours and the restoration of the name ‘’Barbara’’. The carriage was used thereafter within the line’s appropriately named ‘’Wealden Pullman’’ luxury service, and a further overhaul of the vehicle followed in 1984. ‘’Barbara’’ was again withdrawn in August 1997, and in October of the following year, a three year restoration programme was inaugurated, completion coming in 2001.

 

Additional Notes [Barbara: As Built]
 

 


26th July 2008

 

Splendidly restored Pullman car ''Barbara'' is seen stabled at Tenterden Town station, complete with the distinctive

''matchbox'' finish, and ''Wealden Pullman'' gangway plate. David Glasspool

 


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