Category:Bond's Brighton Belle Restoration Project

From The Brighton Toy and Model Index

As far as we know, this Bond's Brighton Belle model is the only known contemporary 1930s commercially-produced all-metal engineered gauge 0 model of the Southern Railway's premium flagship Pullman train ... and (due to the Second World War) this unfinished prototype seems to be the one and only example that Bonds got to produce.

The model therefore occupies a unique place in railway and model railway history, and once it had been discovered, the museum could not justify not rescuing and restoring it.

During the course of the restoration, the restoration remit has shifted somewhat – originally the idea was to bring the prototype model up to what would have been its intended level of Bond's finish. As work progressed, we decided to raise the bar, and take an optimistic view of the amount of work that Bonds would have intended to carry out on the bodyshell. Eventually we decided, with the help of archives of plans and photographs of the real Belle, to take the model all the way to a full-blown exhibition-grade finish, with superior lining and paint finishing, and ultra-high detailing.

2020 restoration update

At this point, the restoration is now essentially complete, but for the installation of an internal electrical lighting system, and we intend to hold a special launch event for it in 2021, COVID regulations permitting.

Although the model was intended to be finished for 2016, the museum decided to take absolutely no shortcuts in its restoration, and to apply the ultimate care to the work, even if this meant some long waits for specific parts to become available, or for Chris to make the machine tooling to recreate missing pieces.

Where we have engineered additional metalwork detailing for the bogies that was not present on the original model, to produce an impeccable visual representation of the real 1930s Brighton Belle, these additional components have been engineered as removable clip-on pieces, so that, while the level of visual detail and accuracy has been improved, we have not physically altered the model's structure, or undermined the integrity of the original design.

The end result is that the model is as faithful to the original 1930s Brighton Belle as could be hoped for, but for the fact that the cars are necessarily below scale length, as normal, to allow them to navigate the tight non-scale curves almost always present in model railways.

2015 restoration notes

  • The five-car set has been completely disassembled, ready for stripping back to the original metal and repainting.
  • A second matching power bogie has been sourced – also made pre-war by Bond's – which is a "twin" of the single bogie that was originally built into the set. This has been fully serviced and made ready for fitting.
  • Most of the interior fittings – tables, chairs and lamps – are ready, but need to be adjusted to fit.
  • Authentic original pre-war Bonds transfers have been sourced and obtained, and will either be applied directly to the model after painting, or duplicated by a specialist if the transfer substrate material turns out to be too badly aged.


  • The set will be professionally painted and lined, with livery expertly matched to the original 1930s paintwork of the real Brighton Belle.


  • Most of the interior furnishings were missing, with some crude replacements – the original surviving pieces have been used as references for the recreation of the missing pieces, in conjunction with the blueprints for the actual Brighton Belle.

Final-stage engineering

  • It is evident that, being a pre-production prototype, some final engineering work will be required to make this a fully-finished, reliable, and smoothly-running exhibition-grade model. This will include reengineered power bogie housing mounts and the development of a coupling system which will respond gracefully to the track points on the museum's 1930s model railway layout.
Such "pre-service" final development work and "engineering polish" would normally have been carried out by Bond's before delivery to their client as part of the commission, but will now need to be carried out by the museum's specialist workshops.

Original state

Although the set's physical bodyshells and wheeling were complete, there was evidence that a subsequent owner had attempted to complete the set's cosmetics with an "amateurishly enthusiastic" paint-job. There was also evidence that the originally-planned "single power bogie" arrangement was not sufficient, and that provision for adding a second power bogie (in the second power car) had been attempted, somewhat crudely.


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Media in category ‘Bond's Brighton Belle Restoration Project’

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