Southern Named Trains

"Golden Arrow"

Ten all-new Pullmans were built from 1949 and entered service as the "Festival of Britain Golden Arrow" on 11th June 1951. For the winter timetable 1952/3 the SNCF claimed there was no justification for staffing two trains and, as on the English side, wanted to use the same train in both directions. This resulted in the train leaving Victoria at 2:00 pm (1:00 pm when French and British time were an hour different) from September 1952, travelling via Folkestone and not reaching Paris until 9:40pm. The steamer crossed the Channel from Folkestone to Calais in order to connect with the train from Calais to Basle and beyond. The return journey was different, leaving Paris at 12:45 pm for Calais the passengers then crossed the Channel to Dover, eventually arriving at Victoria at 7:45 pm (or 6:45 pm). Journey times were now longer than they had been in 1929 and passenger numbers were falling off, with the train now including up to seven Pullman cars plus ordinary stock, though from 1960 the Victoria departure time was restored to 11:00 am. All good things come to an end, however, and the last "Golden Arrow" ran on 30th September 1972.
Golden Arrow Sometime during 1947 un-named Bulleid light pacific 21C157 (later to become Biggin Hill) is made ready at Stewarts Lane to work the "Golden Arrow".

photograph: Mike Morant collection

An unidentified light pacific working the "Golden Arrow" in early British Railways days.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Golden Arrow
Golden Arrow For the last part of the journey to Folkestone the "Golden Arrow" engine would come off the train and hand it over to two or three tank engines who would take it on the last part of the journey to the Harbour station. Here a Stirling R1 0-6-0 tank, believed to be 31047, is at the head of the train whilst at the rear are almost certainly two more similar engines providing the braking effort for descending this fairly steep bank. When the train leaves Folkestone Harbour all three will be required to lift the weight of the train up the bank again.

photograph by Mike Morant

Another light pacific dolled up for a "Golden Arrow" turn! This time it is Nº34071 601 Squadron.

photograph: Steve Roffey collection

Golden Arrow
Golden Arrow And another! Nº34092 City of Wells, date unknowm.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

"Britannia" class Nº70004 William Shakespeare working a "Golden Arrow" duty, date believed to be during 1951, was photographed at Sandling Shorncliffe.

photograph by Mike Morant

Golden Arrow
Golden Arrow The "Britannias" have left the Southern and the "Golden Arrow" is back with Bulleid power! 34085 501 Squadron is ready to leave Dover with the up service.

photograph: Mike Morant collection


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ACE | Bournemouth Belle | Devon Belle | Golden Arrow 1 | Man of Kent | Night Ferry | Royal Wessex | Southern/Brighton Belle | Thanet/Kentish Belle | Boat Train Specials

We have further information on the ten new cars introduced on 11th June 1951 in our Railway Magazine Archive,
under the title of "The New Golden Arrow".

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This page was last updated 8 December 2010

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