#OnThisDay in 1967 the last Bournemouth Belle ran direct between London Waterloo and Bournemouth Central.
The Belle was a train formed of Pullman stock that first ran on Sunday 5 July 1931 and was one of the most famous named trains on the Southern region. The service originally was only scheduled to run during the summer months however due its great success the service was extended to run on all weekends and summer weekdays and in 1936, it became a year-round daily service.
When the Bournemouth Belle was reintroduced after the Second World War the service saw some major changes. The Southern Railway realised that the potential traffic to Southampton and its cruise ship terminals were too important to miss out on so additional stop at Southampton Central was added. The other major change to the service was the introduction of Oliver Bulleids faster and more powerful Merchant Navy class locomotives including our engine General Steam Navigation, that was a regular locomotive recorded as to haul the service. The size of the train grew considerably after the war with up to twelve Pullman cars weighing almost 500 tons tare weight combined with the requirement of fast acceleration and high top speed the Merchant Navys had a train were they could show off there best qualities. 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.
Sunday, 9th July 1967 was a historic day as as well as the last Bournemouth Belle it was to be the final day of both steam traction’ on the Western Section main line. To mark the occasion the Southern Region had announced that the last day of this famous Pullman train would feature steam haulage. At the eleventh hour, higher management in British Railways thwarted this proposal, and the final ‘’Bournemouth Belle’’ services were hauled by Brush Type 4 No. D1924 (later Class 47 No. 47247).
General Steam Navigation was a often found hauling the Bournemouth Belle during her service career. One day the Society would love to recreate this on the mainline but to this we need your help. The Trailing Truck Transformers funding group continues to be our primary fundraising campaign with its objective of funding the restoration of GSNs trailing truck. The Society is pleased with the initial number of members who have signed up for blocks but are under no illusions that its still along way from being funded. We are offering a maximum of 30 members the opportunity to purchase a ‘Lot’ for £500. Members are welcome to purchase as many ‘Lots’ as they wish up to the maximum target amount.
Members of the Fund Group would receive a number of benefits including:
- Certificate of membership of the ‘Trailing Truck Transformers’
- Name engraved on a suitable brass plaque attached to the refurbished Trailing Truck
- Regular updates on the refurbishment of the Trailing Truck
- An invitation to a VIP day at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway to see the completed Trailing Truck once it is returned to the railway.
For details on how to become a Trailing Truck Transformer please click here.