#OnThisDay in 1926, the first Atlantic Coast Express ran between London Waterloo and the West Country. Originally named the ”North Cornwall & Bude Express” the service ran from 1907, until, as part of a publicity drive by Southern Railways, the 11 o’clock from Waterloo to the West Country was named the “Atlantic Coast Express” in July 1926. The new name was chosen as the result of a competition run in the staff magazine and the winning entry was submitted by Mr F. Rowland, a guard from Woking who won a prize of three guineas for suggesting Atlantic Coast Express. He was soon to move to Great Torrington in North Devon; he was killed in a shunting accident there six years later. The “Atlantic Coast Express’ very soon became affectionately known to many travellers and enthusiasts as the “ACE”, the shortened version of its full title.
The route was always heavily reliant on holiday passengers which meant that the volume of traffic was very seasonal. On Summer Saturdays, the ACE consisted of up to five trains departing from Waterloo in the 40 minutes before 11:00, stretching resources on the long single-track branch lines to the limit. In the winter timetable, one train was sufficient for all of the branches, and stops were made at all but the most insignificant stations west of Exeter. Significant delays were frequent at the junctions, as coaches were detached or attached and shunted between the various sections of the train, belying the name of “Express”.
In later years, a carriage was detached at Salisbury to join a following stopping train along the main line, and two carriages were detached at Sidmouth Junction, one for Sidmouth and one for Exmouth via Budleigh Salterton. The restaurant and buffet cars were normally removed during the major division at Exeter Central.
Saturdays were always the busiest and in August 1939 the ACE was shown in Bradshaw’s Guide as five separate trains departing from Waterloo; serving Ilfracombe (10:36), Padstow (10:40), Ilfracombe again (10:47), Bude (10:54) and a final departure at 11.00 with portions for Padstow Bude and Plymouth.
Services continued in much the same pattern until the outbreak of World War II, which necessitated longer trains and substantial deceleration on all lines, rendering named trains no longer appropriate.
Putting Funds into the Frames
We have therefore set up a Fund for the Frames that will be essential for the successful restoration of 35011 back into her original condition. Not only do we need to clean and review the condition of the frames as they exist today, any corroded sections of the framework, the rear platform and dragbox will cut out and replaced. We also need to reverse some of the areas that were changed during rebuilding to allow a new middle cylinder to be installed and reinstate Bulleid’s unique patented chain driven valve gear.
This a general fund with no minimum / maximum donation or number of contribution limits, all monies donated to the Fund for the Frames will be specifically ring fenced for the frames. If you are able to contribute to this project in any way however great or small, we thank you for your support.