Lovely television programme from Andrew Martin last night about the famous ‘named’ trains of the 1930’s and 50’s: The Flying Scotsman, The Coronation Scot, The Silver Jubilee, The Golden Arrow, The Cheltenham Flyer, The Cornish Riviera Express, The Brighton Belle. Andrew Martin wrote a splendid book about it, which you can buy on amazon. I gave it to my father for Christmas and it went down well judging by the sporadic little knowing chuckles I kept on hearing from the other room.
The Brighton Belle was especially stylish, and amazingly survived until 1972. Oh for a more leisured, civilised age! This glamorous all-electric train was popular with theatrical luvvies, Larry Oliver was a fan. We’re thinking waiters in white mess jackets with brass buttons serving breakfast kedgeree on porcelain plates. The Southern Railway was good at this sort of thing.
This photograph made me laugh. It looks like a pub, but unbelievably it’s actually a Mock Tudor Southern Railway Tavern Car, circa 1947. They called it "At the Sign of the White Hart"; here you could enjoy a pewter tankard of bitter, (or presumably a slice of gammon with pineapple?) as you steamed through the Surrey countryside towards Waterloo or Victoria.
The gel at the front looks a bit like Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter. She's got her foot foward like a Harrod's model. I bet my bottom dollar the chap at the back (missing only a manly pipe clenched between his teeth) is a bogus Wing Commander and drives an MG. We’re in Patrick Hamilton territory.
I would love to know what the waiter is serving up through the hatch. Steak and Kidney pie? A grapefruit half, garnished with a glacé cherry? Dover Sole?