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E n g l a n d   a n d   I r e l a n d

The Harrogate Pullman Limited of the London & North Eastern Railway with Atlantic type locomotive no. 1459 on the Great Northern section (painting by F. Moore, published by Dr. Walter Strauss in 1924)

Scotch Express 10 o'clock ex-King's Cross, Great Northern Railway engine 300, near Hadley Wood, c.1911 (Deutsches Museum Muenchen)

Flying Scotchman, class A-4, c.1949 (British Railways, coll. Josef Ungewitter)

Coronation Scot of LMS, prepared for USA tour in 1939 (NRM24544 National Railway Museum, York)

Railway was invented in England and during decades world's most advanced train was the Flying Scotsman. In 1862 a 1st class Special Scotch Express London - Edinburgh started on the East Coast line, covering the 632 km in 10 ½ hours. Opening that future Flying Scotchman to 3rd class in 1887 offended the competing railways on the West Coast. In 1888 the "Race to Edinburgh" was started and in 1895 the "Race to Aberdeen" took place. After the Preston accident the competing railway companies agreed on running-times around 8 hours. That agreement lasted until the '30s, also after regrouping in 1923, when the East Coast companies became the LNER and their competitors the LMSR. The Flying Scotsman, from 1928 running nonstop, was surpassed in 1937 by LNER's Coronation, covering the distance between London and Edinburgh in 6 hours. It was a streamliner consisting of 8 cars, including a beaver-tail observation saloon, painted blue/light-blue and hauled by Sir Nigel Gresley's A-4 Pacifics, equipped with a corridor tender. LMSR's answer became the blue Coronation Scot and the streamlined "Princess Coronation Class" Pacific, developed by Sir William Stanier together with H.G. Ivatt. British Railways, created in 1948, introduced The Elizabethan in 1953 and once again the A-4 ran nonstop from London to Edinburgh on the old LNER tracks. The Coronation's record was cut substantially only towards the end of the '70s when the Flying Scotsman became a HST diesel unit, capable of speeds up to 125 mph or 200 km/h. With privatization however, England's railways lost leadership. The glamour of the grand expresses lived on with the nostalgic tourist special Royal Scotsman, steaming through the Highlands…

Coronation Scot
LMSR, rearranged for USA tour in 1939:
46220 "Coronation" (ex 46229), streamlined 4-6-2
1st class corridor/brake ) articulated
1st class corridor )
1st class corridor/lounge ) articulated
1st class restaurant )
kitchen-car ) articulated
3rd class restaurant )
sleeping-car 377 (12-wheeler, only for USA tour)
Colors: Midland red, yellow stripes.

American Boat Train of the LNWR at Liverpool Riverside Station
(NRM/WOL363 National Railway Museum, York)

Ocean Liner Express London - Liverpool, 5-MT class, near Stafford June 27, 1957 (British Railways)

The first regular trans-Atlantic steamer had started in 1838 from Bristol. The leading port however became Liverpool. In 1838 the railway from London to Liverpool was completed, the later London & North Western Railway (LNWR). It is not known when the first Ocean liner specials appeared. In 1898 started the American Special at London Euston Station for the Cunard and the White Star liners - described as the "crackiest among the crack trains". In 1907 once again new corridor train sets appeared. The dark-red/cream colored specials could go straight to the harbor. The new Riverside station from 1895 was reached through a tunnel, where saddle tank condensing locomotives replaced the express passenger engines. In 1923 LNWR and the competing Midland Railway formed the LMSR and their dark-red specials continued to run. However, Liverpool steamer services got scarce and in 1971 the Riverside Station was closed for ever.

Only from 1904 the Great Western Railway (GWR, re-gauged from 7ft ¼ in to standard gauge) participated in the Ocean Mail traffic from Plymouth and from 1909 also for a short time from Fishguard in the West to London. The most spectacular locomotive was its "City of Truro", which in 1904 established a European speed record with more than 160 km/h. The GWR operated also a West Indian Boat Express, but not very much is known about that special, documented by a photograph with GWR's Atlantic engine "Albion". In 1931 GWR introduced its own brown/cream "Pullmans" (nos. 9111 - 9118) on London Paddington - Plymouth specials. The last Pullmans were reported around 1959, attached to ordinary trains. From 1903 to 1910 also the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) did run specials Plymouth - London, then the sleeping cars were sold to GWR.

GWR's new train for the West Indian Boat Express service with engine 171 (coll. British Railways)

GWR's first "Mauretania" special with engines 3402 "Halifax" and 4108 "Gardenia" leaving Fishguard on August 30, 1909 (coll. British Railways)

Southampton had already in 1856 “boat-trains” of the LSWR from London Waterloo in connection with the Union Line to Cape Town. Under Sir Herbert Walker the LSWR built docks at Southampton and in 1912 White Star’s “Titanic” undertook the voyage from this port. The trains, according to N.E. Norman, consisted of loose vehicles, but around the turn of the century special trains were built. Locomotives were the 4-4-0s by Adams and Drummond and then 4-6-0s. In 1931 the “Queen Mary” started from Southampton and Pullman saloons were introduced. The “Queen Mary” needed five special trains, one of them consisting exclusively of Pullmans. Sensational were also the green “Merchant Navy” Pacifics on the Southampton line with their square casing, then removed. In 1963 the Pullmans had the last run. Then the few Ocean Liner expresses decayed, until James B. Sherwood provided his re-emerged VSOE Pullman services for Q.E.2 passengers.

"Ocean Saloon" of the GWR, exhibition at Didcot (Dr. Fritz Stoeckl)

A Southern Railway boat train from Southampton with class N-15 overtakes a Portsmouth to Waterloo express (coll. N.E. Norman)

There had been also quite another mail route. Jules Verne on his return trip from America in 1867 saw it at Queenstown, now Cobh, at the southern tip of Ireland: Mail bags were unloaden from the steamer to a special train northbound. At Dublin they were taken over by a fast steamer which seemed to consist of engines only, to Liverpool. From London, passengers could take the ferries to Ireland and then a train to Cobh, the last stop of the Cunard liners on the way to America. After in 1923 the LMS had been formed, black/dark-red tenwheelers and then the beautiful Stanier Pacifics, the streamline casing removed, hauled the heavy train, known as “The Wild Irishman”.

Special Portrush – Belfast with 4-4-0 type engine no. 171 in 1979 (Marc Dahlstrom)

The down Irish Mail with "Britannia" class no.70045, August 1957 (British Railways)

1840: Cunard started from Liverpool and soon there must have been special trains from London (by LNWR)
1849: Dublin - Cork (GS & W, broad gauge 1.60m) completed. Mail specials Cork - Dublin were reported connecting with mail boats Dublin - Liverpool.
1850: Irish Mail London - Holyhead (by LNWR) steamer to Dun Laoghaire, boat-trains to Dublin and Cork.
c. 1856: First boat-trains London - Southampton
1898: American Special London - Liverpool (by LSWR).
1903: Specials Plymouth - London (by LSWR, until 1910)
1904: Ocean Mails Special Plymouth - London (by GWR).
1909: Cunard Special Fishguard - London (by GWR, until 1914?).
1931: Ocean Liner Express London - Southampton with Pullman Saloons.
1939: Specials London - Southampton connecting with BOAC flying boats, until 1945 to Christchurch or Poole.
1971: Liverpool Riverside Station closed, but Ocean specials there disappeared long before.
1988: End of the Irish Mail.
1994: Cunard Ocean Liner Express London - Southampton

Ocean Specials on May 09, 1904:

Ocean Mails Special Plymouth Millbay Docks - London Paddington, by GWR:
4 passenger brake vans
1 Post Office sorting van
Traction: "City of Truro" (4-4-0) Plymouth - Bristol, "Duke of Connaught "Bristol - London.
Colors: Brown/cream, locomotives black/green.

Ocean Special Plymouth Millbay Docks - London P., by GWR (formation unclear):
5 1st class
2 2nd class
2 dining cars
2 mail vans
1 bullion van

Ocean Special Plymouth Stonehouse Pool - London Waterloo, by LSWR.

Plymouth - London Paddington connecting with the "Queen Mary", in May 1937: Two specials consisting of the GWR saloons series 9111 - 9118. Traction: "Castle" class (4-6-0), on Devon bank an additional 4-4-0.

"Ocean Liner Express Waterloo and Southampton Docks"
Southampton - London, 1937, by LSWR: For the "Queen Mary" 5 trains were running, two of them being specials with up to 12 Pullman cars (day saloons), Traction: "King Arthur" or "Lord Nelson" class (4-6-0). Colors: Pullman brown/cream, LSWR cars green, locomotives black/green.

London Waterloo - Southampton Docks, from c. 1946 up to 3 Pullman specials for "Queen Elizabeth", "Statesman" for the United States Line, Pullmans withdrawn in 1963. Traction: "Merchant Navy" Class (4-6-2, in 1956 streamlining removed).

Special Boat Train London Waterloo - Southampton Docks connecting with P&O "Canberra", Jan. 6, 1979, by BR:
6S25 2nd class
1S252nd class guard
4S131st class
Traction: diesel 33014. Colors: blue/light grey

Cunard Ocean Liner Express
London - Southampton Docks, connecting with Q.E.2: From 1994 traditional 1st class BR cars (green), around the turn of the century Pullmans by James Sherwood's VSOE (brown/cream)

On January 12, 2004, the "Queen Mary 2" had its first trip from Southampton to New York.

Irish Mail
London Euston - Holyhead, by BR, ferry connection to Dun Laoghaire, bus to Dublin, departure April 26, 1981:
1 Sleeping Car M2453
6 cars 2nd class
1 Buffet Restaurant M1732
3 cars 1st class
1 Mail/guard
Traction: electric 86 222 London - Crewe, diesel class 47 Crewe - Holyhead.

Colors: blue/light-grey.

The "Great Britain" of 1847 on the 7ft broad gauge of Great Western (Deutsches Museum)

"American Boat Special" connecting with White Star Line, departure at Holyhead (Railway Gazette,1910)

Virgin Trains, 2006, running also London Euston - Liverpool and Holyhead (Tellyadict, via Wikimedia)

HST London – Plymouth, Paddington 1981 (WS)