Brighton Belle

The 82 kilometers (53 miles) from London to Brighton seems Lilliputian when compared with the vast journey of the Orient Express.
Taken by an all Pullman train, however, it was the first truly Train de Luxe in Europe.
Travellers took this Train de Luxe to the seaside resort nearest to London, on England’s South coast.

The all-Pullman offered an upper class drawing room atmosphere in which passengers could relax in restful surroundings, not all that different from the parlours in their own homes, and less cramped than ordinary First Class compartments, with toilet and refreshment facilities handy and uniformed servants in attendance.

At its inaugural run on the 5th of December 1881 it was called The Pullman Limited Express. The all-Pullman service lasted for 91 years until British Rail finally stopped it on May 1st 1972.

The train ran every day, twice in both directions. It outraged the church-going Victorian public and badly damaged patronage by making the first of its regular round trips on Sunday so Sunday service was eventually withdrawn.

The Pullman Limited Express  caught on only slowly.
It attracted the young couples going on a honeymoon to Brighton, and young gentlemen who could impress their lady friends by taking them for a day at the seaside by elegant rail. But the difference between the quality of the accommodation it offered and that of an ordinary First Class carriage was not sufficiently marked.

Moreover Victorian Englishmen and women valued privacy that was more likely to be had in an ordinary First Class compartment than in an open parlour car. Would there not be a dashing young rascal with loose morals lurking in the smoking room , ready to sneak across into the parlour car and make importunate advances to the young ladies, despite their chaperones.

True, toilets and wash-basins were at hand , but the contemporary prudishness made people reluctant to advertise their physical needs in front of strangers; one had to learn to wait.

There were advantages over First Class, however, in cold weather the Pullman car’s interior was comfortably warm, thanks to a stove which made the foot warmers unnecessary, and a polite attendant would bring you tea and freshly-prepared sandwiches on request.
One of the four Pullman cars, Beatrice, now called a drawing-room car, for the ladies to withdraw into, was believed to be the first railway carriage in the world to be electrically lit. In 1881 most people used candles or oil lamps at home.
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