Category:Brighton Belle

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This page is about the electric Pullman train. For information on the Friendly Museum Dog, see Belle the Museum Dog

The Brighton Belle was a train which ran on the Southern Railway from Victoria Station in London to Brighton Station on the Sussex coast. The first electric all-Pullman service in the world, it ran from 29 June 1934 until its withdrawal on 30 April 1972.


Following the electrification of the London to Brighton line in January 1933, Pullman could have chosen to run existing cars with new electric motor units. Instead (in keeping with their longstanding special relationship with Brighton and particularly the Victoria to Brighton service), they decided to commission three entirely new five-car sets to replace the outgoing Southern Belle cars.

Built by Metropolitan Cammell, and with all-steel construction, each EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) set comprised three different types of car: (1) Third Class Motor / Break Parlour, (2) First Class Kitchen, and (3) Third Class Parlour, and were made up in the following configuration:

3rd M/B Parlour — 3rd Parlour — 1st Kitchen — 1st Kitchen — 3rd M/B Parlour

The cars within each set were vestibuled to allow movement between them, however the Brighton Belle train was usually made up of a pair of these five-car sets (ten cars in total), with no access between each set. The sets were used in rotation with the spare third set either having maintenance done, or in the summer months between 1948 and 1957 being used as the Sunday-only Eastbourne Pullman service.


The three sets were made up as follows and each set was given a unit number by the Southern Group.

Unit 2051: (Car 88Car 86"Hazel""Doris"Car 89 )
Unit 2052: (Car 90Car 87"Audrey""Vera"Car 91 )
Unit 2053: (Car 92Car 85"Gwen""Mona"Car 93 )

As with all Pullman cars, the first class vehicles were given popular girls names of the time and the third class cars were simply designated numbers. On the 1st of January 1937 all existing Southern unit numbers were increased by 1000 so the Brighton Belle Units became 3051, 3052 and 3053 respectively and kept these numbers until they were retired in 1972.

Motive power for the train was provided by British Thompson Houston Company (BTH) 225 HP traction motors. Eight of these were fitted to each Motor 3rd car and these gave the train a top speed of 75 Mph (120 Kph).


As opposed to its predecessor the Southern Belle, the Brighton Belle had a ready made customer-base and was extremely popular from the outset with business travellers as well as theatre patrons and actors alike, due to its regular scheduled 60-minute non-stop runs, eight a day, Monday to Saturday, for most of its working life.

The train was withdrawn from service by British Rail in April 1972 due to the cost of maintaining the ageing cars. The decision to cancel the service provoked a campaign to save the train, which had become one of the most famous luxury trains in the world, but to no avail.

It is commemorated on a mural running the length of the Museum, on Trafalgar Street.

The 5BEL Trust (Registered Charity No. 1133545) aims to restore a set of five carriages and bring the Brighton Belle back into mainline service by 2016.

In the museum

Brighton Toy and Model Museum have strong links with the 5BEL Trust, which is restoring the train, and our Pullman-related exhibits include a display dedicated to Brighton Belle models and artefacts, as well as a lifesize Brighton Belle mural on the side of the building.

2016 is the museum's 25th anniversary and also marks the expected return of a restored six-car Brighton Belle trains to mainline service, and we'll be marking the year with an autumn Brighton Belle event, and with the restoration and display of a unique 1930s gauge 0 prototype exhibition-grade model of the train, made by Bond's of Euston Road.

External links