The Brighton Belle

I grew up in Sussex so electric trains were part of life. Amongst the hoped for things to happen, if waiting for a train at Three Bridges, was to see the Brighton Belle racing through. There was a chance to glimpse the names on the Pullman cars that made up this train; a chance to admire the Pullman livery of brown and cream; a chance to see the chintzy interior, with the elegant little table lamps; perhaps a glimpse of a white waistcoated waiter serving at a table.

One thing I was certain of was that I would never travel on this train to enjoy the luxury first hand. The train ran, non-stop, from London to Brighton. And there was no reason why I should ever make that journey.

But I did. I had no idea, as a child, just what a good life a student could have. I became a student in London. I ran the Transport Society (there’s a surprise). We could take subsidised trips. One of them was on The Brighton Belle.

So all those items glimpsed from a platform did become personal experience. I made the journey, being served a meal by the white waistcoated waiter. I enjoyed the sumptuous interior and loved those table lamps. One thing had changed and that was the livery. By the time I made the trip in 1969, the train had gone into BR corporate Pullman livery. I didn’t think it suited the train as well as the old colour scheme, but it was still a memorable experience.

I snapped a photo of the train, that day, in Brighton.

I have already written about a 1966 Pul/Pan Farewell tour. In a sense, this trip was my farewell to the old electrics. The Brighton Belle train was closely modelled on the more prosaic units which ran the normal services.

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