1 Brighton Belle courtesy of Phil Marsh

Brighton Belle re-united after 40 years

Published 20th March 2013

‘Southern Saturday’ at Barrow Hill this Easter

Easter Saturday, March 30 promises to be a historic day when for the first time in 40 years, a complete Brighton Belle train will be together. The occasion is billed as ‘Southern Saturday’ and is at the preserved Roundhouse at Barrow Hill near Chesterfield.

As well as a complete Brighton Belle train, rides are being offered on what is billed as an ultra-rare 4-VOP unit hauled by Class 33 diesel No. 33108 and Electric locomotive No. 71001.

The Brighton Belle engineering base will be open for the day allowing inspection of the project’s progress to be made. The train’s restoration team will be available for questions and other information and sales stands offering souvenirs will also be in the shed.

The train has come together after a long project to reunite the carriages which have been used for various projects. For example, Pullman First Car 'Hazel' spent 40 years as a restaurant in Yorkshire before being hoisted out of its location by two of the country's largest mobile cranes.

Restoration will cost around £300,000 and the speed of this is governed by fund raising but hopefully 2014 is being targeted for main line operation. Another vehicle, No. 88 was on display at York last year in the rain hit Railfest and was re-named as Diamond Jubilee to mark the Diamond Jubilee.

This was visited by thousands of enthusiasts who looked at part of the UK’s largest restoration project and quizzed Chief Engineer Simon Hartshorne about it all.

Car 88 is now back at Barrow Hill waiting for her turn to be worked on restoring the underframes to main line condition and to have suitable bogies fitted for future operations. The electrical and braking control gear and systems also need fitting as these were removed in 1972 when the train was withdrawn from service.

London to Brighton in Four Minutes

This famous film made in 1952 was shot from The Brighton Belle the BBC Film Unit and quickly became a viewer’s favourite and was often used to fill in when technical hitches occurred! The journey on the Brighton Belle was filmed at two frames per second meaning that the real speed of 60 mph becomes 720 mph!

The cameraman sat with the driver hand cranking the camera and each film reel of film was only 1000ft so the camerman had to change the film during the journey and any gaps edited out using a shot of the train driver.

Iconic Deltic based at Barrow Hill

Barrow Hill is also home to the Deltic Preservation Society's maintenance depot and museum, adjacent to the Roundhouse and will be open for this event.

Steam is represented by a ‘USA’ 0-6-0 Tank engine No. 30075 positioned on the turntable, along with Peppercorn Class A2 No. 60532 Blue Peter as the main exhibits.

Event details

The event runs from 10 am to 4 pm and tickets can be bought on the day costing £8 adults and children at £4. Barrow Hill is not well served by public transport so a free bus shuttle will be running from Chesterfield station. For visitors driving to the event, a free car park on-site is available. There is an on-site Cafe available for food and refreshments.

Written by Phil Marsh

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