Gild the Golden Arrow

After much time, I have finally got round to adding the “Golden Arrow” Regalia to Hornby 70004 William Shakespeare.  I also fitted a vacuum pipe, coupling hook and brass nameplates to the locomotive.


The Golden Arrow was an express service that ran from London to Dover/Folkestone, then connected with a ferry that took passengers to Calais where a French train was waiting to take them on to Paris.  The French knew the train as the ‘Flčche d’Or’.  The Golden Arrow/Flčche d’Or started in 1926, was stopped at the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939 and resumed in 1946.  Competing with aircraft, hovercraft and car ferry’s, the Golden Arrow was finally withdrawn on 30th September 1972.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the withdrawal of the Golden Arrow, which has been marked by Hornby with the production of this model – a regular locomotive that hauled the Golden Arrow in the 1950’s.

The BR standard 7MT class was not used extensively in the Southern region.  This was due to the presence of the new Bulleid pacifics in the region.  Other regions were in desperate need for new motive power, still having many long-since life expired locomotives, exhausted after heavy use and relatively poor maintenance schedules during the Second World War.  70004 William Shakespeare was one of two exceptions to the class distribution, the other locomotive being 70014 Iron Duke.  These two locomotives were used exclusively for use on the “Golden Arrow”.

The only experience I have had of the Golden Arrow has been in its recreation by the Bluebell Railway.  The picture above show’s C class 592 departing Horsted Keynes for Kingscote in 1997.  This recreation is of course flawed in terms of accuracy, but that said it is because of this that I knew of the Golden Arrow.  It is also why I was so keen to get my hands on Hornby’s 70004 William Shakespeare.

Getting the model ready to pull the Golden Arrow

The model is exceptional – click here to read its review.  After running it in for several days it was time to add the regalia, so here is how it was done!

After finding the detailing packs nicely packed in the box, it was time to fit the parts.  I decided to use cyanoacrylate (superglue) to fit the nameplates.  This was a brave decision because if it goes wrong it could spoil the model.  However, I knew I would want them to be permanently attached so I went for it!  Using a cocktail stick I put tiny blobs of glue on the name of the locomotive and carefully but quickly put on the nameplates.  Within seconds they were set and firm.

Next came fitting the golden arrows, followed by the coupling hook, vacuum pipe headboard and flags.  For these I used Deluxe Materials “Tacky Wax” that provides a temporary bond that can be removed easily if desired in the future, with a tiny bit of water.  In case I wanted to use William on more humble duties some time in the future, I thought this would be best!

In a few minutes, 70004 William Shakespeare was ready for action!

The headboard is massively too big, but otherwise I am happy with the finished result.  I will be adding route discs at some point, unfortunately Hornby didn’t include these with the model.  Despite this, I have put the locomotive in to service pulling some Pullman’s.  These are not the proper Pullman’s used on the Golden Arrow, but for now they will do!