Southern Named Trains
"The Bournemouth Belle"

Bournemouth Belle board

photograph by Michael Blackbourn

The origins of the "Bournemouth Belle" are back in the nineteenth century when the LSWR tried including a Pullman car in a west of England service between Waterloo and Exeter. This was not a success and was soon withdrawn, to be followed by a trial to Bournemouth in 1890 with a single Pullman car included in the 12:30 pm down train and the corresponding up train. This proved much more successful and continued for many years until, in 1905, the timetable showed four trains in each direction included a "Pullman Drawing Room Car". Then the Pullmans faced a decline following the introduction of restaurant cars and corridor coaches until, by 1911, no Pullman cars were left on LSWR services.
Bournemouth Belle An unidentified Bulleid light pacific hauling the "Bournemouth Belle" at Bournemouth in Southern Railway days.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Merchant Navy class Nº35015 Rotterdam Lloyd hauling the "Bournemouth Belle" with a headboard of the more usual Southern Railway design.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

When the Southern Railway was formed in 1923 it inherited three successful trains composed of Pullman only stock so, in 1931, tried again on the Bournemouth route when it introduced the all-Pullman "Bournemouth Belle" on Sundays only from 5 July of that year. Only running during the summer months, the train initially ran non-stop between Waterloo and Bournemouth Central station. The new service was a great success so it was extended to run on all weekends and summer weekdays until, in 1936, it became a year round daily working, and remained so (with the exception of the war years) until its final demise.
35014 Nš35014 Nederland Line passing Eastleigh with the up Bournemouth Belle on 28th March 1954. The headboard is now of the standard BR(S) design.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

35010 Blue Star heads the down "Bournemouth Belle" as it nears Worting Junction during July 1957.

photograph: Terry Bye collection

Prior to WWII the "Bournemouth Belle" left Waterloo at 10:30 am but as it had been realised that Southampton's traffic potential was too important to miss out on, the "Belle" was now stopping at Southampton Central in each direction. The schedule was depart from Waterloo 10:30 am, arrive Southampton Central 11:57 am, departing 12:00 noon, arrive Bournemouth Central 12:36 pm, departing 12:38 pm and terminating at Bournemouth West at 12:47 pm. The corresponding up journey saw the train leave West station at 4:35 pm, call at Central 4:45 pm, Southampton Central from 5:15 pm to 5:20 pm and arriving at Waterloo at 6:46 pm, just 121 minutes after leaving Bournemouth West. The train was booked to run with up to 400 tons weight but this seldom happened with, usually, just seven cars in winter and nine or ten in summer. The motive power was normally provided in the form of a Lord Nelson class locomotive in each direction.
35016 35016 Elders Fyffes also heading the down "Bournemouth Belle" near Worting Junction in July 1957.

photograph: Terry Bye collection

Following WWII the "Bournemouth Belle" was one of the first titled trains in the country to be restored to the timetable. 7 October 1947 was the date of its return and it now had at the front greatly improved power in the form of a Merchant Navy class pacific locomotive, though overall running times were longer with the time from Waterloo to Bournemouth Central now 2 hrs 10 mins and the return journey taking 2 hrs 5 mins. As a result the "Belle" was no longer the fastest train on the Bournemouth run. The size of the train grew considerably with up to twelve Pullman cars weighing almost 500 tons tare weight, making it by far the heaviest train on the route. In the service's post-war heyday the formation was usually twelve cars year round on Fridays, with eleven cars on other summer days and, in winter, nine cars on Mondays and Saturdays, ten on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and eleven on Sundays. During the final days of steam, in the summer of 1967, the Merchant Navy power gave way to Class 47 diesels which worked the service until its demise on 9 July 1967.


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This page was last updated 28 June 2010

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