The Brighton Belle
This glorious Art-Deco Pullman train represents an important part of Britain’s railway heritage. Launched in 1933 by the Southern Railway, it offered passengers travelling between London and Brighton an unprecedented experience of luxury and personal service. However as a result of the Beecham reforms, the iconic Brighton Belle was withdrawn from service on April 30th, 1972 and all of its component fifteen cars were sold into private ownership, ending an era.
A campaign to return the glamourous electric Pullman train back to mainline service was launched by the 5BEL Trust in 2008 and since that time a number of the cars have been re-acquired. Wheathills is proud to be one of the specialist UK businesses called upon to work on restoration projects, to bring back to life the Brighton Belle.
In particular, Wheathills has been charged with providing restoration expertise in the repair, replacement and conservation of marquetry panels within the carriage interiors.
Great care is taken during the works to apply the correct and appropriate methodology to enable the wonderful atmospheric appearance of the original layout to be maintained, so that the future travellers will be able to enjoy the aesthetic appeal of a journey in this historic train akin to that of the original passengers.
The current condition of some panelling is very poor due to severe water ingress throughout many carriages. Fire damage and inappropriate repairs have also taken a toll resulting in a disheartening level of mismatched timbers, standard of finish and missing components. Wheathills, in conjunction with Morrells, has developed a specialist fire-retardant finish to allow the panels to be French polished to the required standard.
Although the train will remain as faithful to the original as possible, the engineering will be brought up to modern standards by WH Davis Ltd. to enable the train to run on the main line between London and Brighton.
After many years of meticulous planning and work, the immense efforts of the 5BEL Trust are now beginning to see results. Restoration is taking place in all areas of engineering and cabinetry. The photographs shown here provide insight into five years of restoration work undertaken by the dedicated team of craftspeople based here at Wheathills. Please visit www.brightonbelle.com for more details.