Hey everyone. Whilst reading reading a book called “The Railway Journeys of my Childhood” by Brigadier John Faviel I noticed a reference to a sighting of a rather special train.
Brigadier John Faviell one evening after leaving the war office was travelling home from Waterloo to Effingham in Surrey when he noticed a rather curious train at Clapham Junction. The train was headed by a superheated and slightly modified Greyhound T9 and consisted of only two or three Pullman cars. This train he later discovered turned out to be the special war-time boat train to the Solent which had departed Victoria earlier that evening. Waiting on the Solent was a seaplane for the neutral Lisbon, then spy capital of Europe, providing the allies its only gateway to the Continent in the weeks leading up to the D-Day landings. As this curious little train slipped quietly through the Clapham cutting it was intriguing to think what a doubtful and perhaps even disguised passengers were sitting back in their Pullman seats hatching their plots.
LocoYard’s T9 with a Pullman
The services ran from Victoria, using superheated T9 “Greyhound” locos (only those with ‘water-cart’ tender) and 3 (Pullman) coaches, to Poole Hamworthy Station. They then connected to a Flying Boat services from Poole Harbour and, subsequently, similar trains ran to Southampton when it took over from Poole Harbour.
The fact that the train ran from Victoria rather than Waterloo on the Bouremouth mainline meant that some Bournemouth crews had extra Route learning between Clapham Junction and Victoria, to be rostered on ‘Flying Boat Specials’. According to some ex-Southern drivers it was a point of honour to arrive at Poole or Victoria without needing a water stop over the 116-ish miles! Although the service was a “special” it did carry ‘normal’ people, from time to time, rather than only military/political passengers.
I never knew that this sort of service even exsisted and adding the military/political twist to it makes it something rather fascinating. Hornby have made a train set based on the pre war service with a Southern livered T9 with a water cart tender, SR Maunsell Brake Coach, Pullman Kitchen Car Ibis & SR Bogie Luggage Van. The set is called the “Imperial Airways Train Pack” named after the pre-war opeartor.
Thanks for reading.