Pullman Kitchen Car

There are two Pullman cars which have used the name ‘’Minerva’’. The first was completed in October 1925 by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company, and sold in that year to the ‘’Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits’’ (International Sleeping Car Company) for use on the Continent. The second was completed in December 1927, and was the last of a batch of six Pullman cars built in that year by the Midland Railway Carriage & Wagon Company. Of this production run, four vehicles were Kitchen Cars, seating twenty-two passengers; the remaining two carriages were Parlour Cars, seating 26. ‘’Minerva’’ was of the former type, delivered new in the 1906-inaugurated ‘’Old Standard’’ umber and crème Pullman colours, and destined for use on LNER boat trains to Harwich. The original ‘’Minerva’’ of 1925 had a short tenure in mainland Europe, returning to the UK just three years later. In the meantime, it had been de-named, simply being designated thereafter as No. 60. The carriage returned to its original builder for conversion into a twenty-four seat Brake Parlour Car for British service, and was renamed ‘’Lady Dalziel’’, after the wife of the Pullman Car Co.’s Chairman.

The ‘’Minerva’’ of 1927 arrived at Preston Park Works in January 1946, to prepare it for operation on the Southern Railway, as part of the then newly-proposed ‘’Devon Belle’’ service. It was completely reconditioned, inside and out, work of which resulted in an increase in the vehicle’s empty weight from 38 tons to 39 tons. The all-Pullman ‘’Devon Belle’’ commenced operation on 20th June 1948, and a typical formation comprised twelve vehicles, weighing a total of 575 tons. One of these vehicles in this formation was an observation coach, which had been rebuilt from an earlier vehicle of 1921 origin (two of these were produced for the SR). The first passenger stop of this service from the Waterloo direction was Sidmouth Junction; an earlier stop at Wilton, not shown on the timetable, was made purely to change engines.

‘’Minerva’’ remained in ‘’Devon Belle’’ service until 1950, when it was again dispatched to Preston Park Works for further modification. It was destined to become part of the ‘’Festival of Britain’’ luxury train of 1951, reserved solely for the conveyance of Royalty and Heads of State from other countries. Seven completely new Pullman vehicles were built by the Birmingham RC&WC in that year: three Kitchen Cars, three Parlour Cars, and one Trianon Bar. All were constituted of a timber frame, clad with metal and supported upon a steel underframe, and ran on four-wheel LNER Gresley-designed bogie sets. A notable change in design involved the oval-shaped windows at the end of the carriages, which indicated the position of the lavatories (not those of the very end doors, but rather, those still within the crème-painted section of the body side). These had now become square, with rounded edges. To conform to this new design, the end windows of ‘’Minerva’’ were similarly altered to the square design, and the vehicle emerged from Preston Park as a Guard First Parlour Car.

After the Festival of Britain, ‘’Minerva’’ and the 1951-built Pullmans were absorbed into the ‘’Golden Arrow’’ carriage fleet, based at Stewarts Lane. ‘’Minerva’’ existed in this role for fifteen years, being retired from service in June 1966 after an operational career of nearly four decades. It was subsequently dispatched to Blackpool, for preservation at the Lytham Creek Railway Museum, and remained there until 1981, when it was purchased by the VSOE Company. Restoration of the majority of the Pullman stock accumulated by the VSOE Company took place in a purpose-built 10,000 square foot workshop in Carnforth, Lancashire. The rejuvenating of ‘’Minerva’’ involved the restoration of the original design of oval lavatory window of 1927, and the re-designating of the vehicle to a Pullman Parlour First. As per the other Pullmans, new buffers were fitted, a complete electrical rewire was undertaken, and electric train heating (ETH) was provided.

Additional Notes [Minerva: As Built]

30th March 1970

"Minerva" is seen at its first base of preservation, Lytham Creek Railway Museum in Blackpool, behind "Peckett" 0-4-0 Saddle Tank of 1948 (Works No. 2087). © David Glasspool Collection

29th June 1985

"Minerva" is seen alongside the "up" platform at Maiden Newton at the tail end of "The Pines Pullman". This was a one-off special which ran from London Victoria to Weymouth Quay, via Salisbury, which included reversals at Yeovil Junction and Yeovil Pen Mill. © David Glasspool Collection

21st June 2007

"Minerva", as pictured above at Folkestone Harbour, now rests on Gresley-design bogies. Originally completed in December 1927 as a Kitchen Car, the carriage has since been transformed into a Pullman Parlour First, complete with air-braking. © David Glasspool Collection