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Modelling the Golden Arrow

Image of IAN GARNHAMIAN GARNHAM goes through the products available to model the Golden Arrow, as well other luxury trains.


If you are after something different to normal passenger stock to operate on your layout, how about a prestige train like the Golden Arrow? The train ran between London Victoria Station and Dover, Kent, between 1929 and 1972, with its distinctive coach livery of umber and cream.

The Golden Arrow was a first-class Pullman service taking its passengers to the Port of Dover, where the passengers would then board a ship that would take them to Calais. Here they would join the French part, called Fleche d’Or, and then onwards to Paris in luxury.

The British part of the train would normally consist of a baggage car and anything up to ten Pullman Cars. It was originally hauled by one of the Southern Railways Lord Nelson Class locomotives. Later, O.V. Bulleid’s air smoothed Pacific Battle of Britain Class and West Country Class were put in charge, together with the more powerful Merchant Navy Class. Later, two BR Britannia class locomotives were tried out on the service in the later days of steam.

The locomotives hauling the service would have the English and French flags adorning the front with a large headboard above them, together with a large Golden Arrow fixed to either side of the locomotive. On the rebuilt Merchant Navys and the Britannias, usually their smaller arrows were attached to the smoke deflectors.

When the Kent line was electrified, the Arrow was hauled by electric traction, again with flags and arrows adorning the locomotive. What started in 1929 was all over with the last service running in 1972. The Pullmans by then had been painted in the then corporate BR colours of blue and grey.

Since then, the famous train has been re-established; originally by the American James Sherwood back in 1982 after he first started purchasing his first cars at auction way back in 1977. Sherwood ended up spending over $16 million dollars.

Nowadays, it is run in this country by Belmond and can be seen on day trips around the country hauled by rebuilt Merchant Navy 35028 Clan Line, and sometimes special livery Class 67 diesels amongst others.

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In model form, Hornby produced the Orient Express in OO Scale as a prestige box set, and over time various Pullman cars - except for the later 1954 festival of Britain stock, hint hint, Hornby - as well as the baggage car. The locomotives, such as the air-smoothed Bulleid Pacifics and the rebuilt versions, together with the Class 73 Electric locomotive and Class 67s have also been produced by Hornby.

N Scale is not quite so well catered for at present. We have only had the original air smoothed Merchant Navy from Graham Farish, and the Dapol West Country and Battle of Britain has yet to be released.

Graham Farish produced matchboard sided Pullman Cars years ago and currently they only make the BR Mk1 Pullmans which never ran on the Arrow. However, Revolution Trains will be producing the early Pullman Cars for release in the not-too-distant future.

Luxury travel by train in this country was well covered with famous names as Brighton Belle, Devon Belle and Bournemouth Belle on the Southern. The LNER had Queen of Scots, Tees Tyne Pullman as well as others.

The Venice Simplon Orient Express is the European version of the company originally set up by James Sherwood, which is currently owned by the Belmond organisation and running their luxury private train set up at the same time as the British one.

The original Orient Express was extremely luxurious and CIWL soon had a dense network of destinations across Europe. CIWL was important as it was a modern multinational company with operations from Europe to Asia and Africa.

If you model Continental railways, either in N or HO Scales, you have a wider choice of rolling stock.

Hobbytrain have offered coach packs covering both Era 2 in blue livery and the earlier coaching stock for Era 1 in N Scale.

Arnold are producing later Era IV sleeping cars in blue livery.

HO Scale CIWL Coaches are covered by Jouef, Hobbytrain, Electrotren, Rivarossi, Marklin, and Roco - covering Era I to V.