Phoenix

Pullman Parlour First

This was a carriage which, as its name implies, literally rose from the ashes. The Pullman Car Company was commissioned in 1952 to build a trio of Pullman carriages at its own Preston Park Works, Brighton. This was a significant batch, for these were to be the last Pullman carriages to adhere to the traditional Pullman vehicle outline – thereafter, new-build Pullmans were based on the BR Mk 1 coach profile (forty-four of these being built during 1960 and 1961). Although no old-style Pullman vehicles were produced after 1952, Preston Park continued to remodel existing carriages until its closure by the British Transport Commission in November 1963.

1952 Pullman Vehicles

As per the Pullman cars completed during 1951 for the ‘’Festival of Britain Golden Arrow’’ luxury train, the 1952 carriages featured lavatory windows which were square with rounded corners, in place of the earlier-conceived oval design. Bogie sets were, however, Pullman Standard, rather than of the LNER Gresley-designed variant fitted to the 1951 carriages. The composition of ‘’Phoenix’’ differed from that of ‘’Aries’’ and ‘’Car No. 303’’, for it re-used the chassis of an older Pullman vehicle, Kitchen Car ‘’Rainbow’’, which had originally been completed by Metropolitan Cammell in January 1927. On 15th August 1936, the carriage suffered extensive fire damage whilst running in a Southampton to Waterloo boat train, at Micheldever, Hampshire. The timber-fabricated body shell was completely burnt out, but the steel chassis was salvageable, and thus remained in store for sixteen years as a spare, until reuse. All three vehicles of the 1952 batch were immediately absorbed into the ‘’Golden Arrow’’ Pullman fleet, although ''Phoenix'' was also designated for Royal duties on the Southern Region. A general overhaul in 1969 saw ‘’Phoenix’’ re-emerge wearing British Rail’s Corporate Blue and Grey livery, as applied to all main line coaching stock since the launch of the ‘’Modern Image’’ in 1965. Seating had been increased from 24 to 32, but the name ‘’Phoenix’’ had been dispensed with, and the carriage was designated by its schedule number, becoming No. S302S. ‘’GOLDEN ARROW’’ was proclaimed on the lower body side, where the carriage name was formerly displayed. No. S302S ran in the last Golden Arrow service on 30th September 1972, and in the following year was dispatched to Lyon, France, for use as a static restaurant. It spent seven years on the Continent until 1980, when it was purchased by the VSOE Company and transported by road, on low-loader, back to the United Kingdom. Despite becoming wedged under a railway bridge in France on the return trip, No. S302S (still wearing the 1969 Blue and Grey livery) arrived at the 10,000 square-foot VSOE workshop in Carnforth, Lancashire. Restoration included the fitting of LNER Gresley-designed bogie sets, in addition to replacement of the square lavatory windows with the older oval design. The vehicle was completely rewired to match the electrical systems of the other restored Pullmans, and electric train heating (ETH) and air braking was installed during the process. The completed vehicle, which had been comprehensively refurbished internally, was ready in time to be displayed at the official launch of the VSOE British Pullman service in November 1981, at Victoria station.

Additional Notes [Phoenix: As Built]

[Rainbow: As Built]


21st June 2007

Being of 1952 origin, Phoenix is the youngest member of the VSOE Pullman fleet. Conversely, the chassis the body sits upon is one of the oldest among the carriages, having originally been commissioned in November 1927 as part of Pullman car ''Rainbow''. ''Phoenix'' is seen at Folkestone Harbour, sandwiched in-between Pullman cars ''Gwen'' and ''Perseus''. © David Glasspool


3rd April 2018

"Phoenix" is seen sandwiched in-between Class 67 Nos. 67024 (Pullman livery) and 67028 at Maidstone East, heading in the London direction. The Pullman car had been collected from Dollands Moor, having arrived the previous day through the Chunnel. The carriage had been overhauled by "Les Ateliers du Centre" in Clermont Ferrand, Central France. © Wayne Walsh