On this date in 1931 the first Bournemouth Belle ran direct between London Waterloo and Bournemouth Central. The train formed of Pullman stock 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 on 9 July 1967.
To help one day recreate the sight of General Steam Navigation hauling the Bournemouth Belle you can support our project at www.35011gsn.co.uk/supporting-us.html.
Today marks 75 years since Victory in Europe Day or VE Day.
VE Day is the day on which Allied forces formally announced the surrender of Germany, which brought the Second World War to a close in Europe. The military surrender was first signed on May 7, but a slightly modified document with the final terms was signed on May 8 in Berlin. Celebrations immediately erupted throughout Britain and more than one million people celebrated in the streets. In London, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth appeared on the balcony alongside Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Our very own 21c11 featured on the front cover of the VE Day May 1945 edition of the Southern Railway Magazine.
At the outbreak of war the Southern Railway had 1,819 locomotives, 61 were built during the war comprising of: 1 Q Class 0-6-0, 40 Q1 class 0-6-0, and 21c11 was one of 20 Merchant Navy Class 4-6-2 and 4 West Country Class 4-6-2. Whilst only 1 locomotive was destroyed by enemy action, 189 were damaged.
We remember the 387 Southern Railway staff killed whilst on active service and 170 killed whilst on railway duty. A further 687 men and 59 women were injured by enemy action on duty.