Bristol Temple Meads
Best regards, Guy Vincent
a Cornish connection.
Andrew & Diane Jones
To be over engineered on not to be…..that is the question!
Although the 8 car Western region sets served on the London Bristol route and were all scrapped by 1975, with unfortunately none preserved, I can only offer the next best thing! Attached are photographs of models from my extensive Hornby Dublo and Triang Rovex collection.
There is a Cornish connection however!….
The original Triang- Rovex Blue Pullman model was based on the Western region sets and introduced in the autumn of 1963. Widely regarded amongst collectors, It was possibly the most successful in sales terms, (just under 1000,000 produced) especially with mail order and was produced at Margate by Robert Atkinson, a toolmaker who subsequently worked for Ranco Controls in Bodmin and whom I had pleasure working with in the 1980’s.
This was in the period just before Lines Brothers, already owners of Triang- Rovex absorbed Hornby Dublo, the later produced by Meccano. (a company fondly remembered by anyone my age or older)
The period had lots of parallels, Hornby Dublo’s superb system was just too expensive and was in need of rationalisation just like British Railways at the time. Triang products were mainly manufactured in Plastic and much cheaper to produce.
A good example of this is illustrated in the attached photographs, the Hornby Dublo rebuilt West Country Pacific ‘Barnstaple’ in 2 rail and sister locomotive ‘Dorchester’ in 3 rail, was manufactured in diecast and retailed in 1963 at more than five pounds, ( or just under 10 pounds for the Devon Belle pullman set) which was the equivalent to an average weeks wages.
Triang had cut the cost and produced the Blue Pullman set to approx half the cost of ‘Barnstaple’, but with much more detail, this eventually spelt the end for Meccano in 1964.
So hopefully I have justified the model link for this article.
The Metro-Cammel Blue Pullman really was introduced in July 1960, to provide business, first class only travel to compete with short haul air travel between London, Birmingham and Manchester. For a while it held its own, but with the completion of electrification on the Euston to Manchester route in 1966 it could not match the reduced timings.
Its innovative design and modern credentials meant that it still had a future elsewhere on the network, especially where electrification was not planned.
All Midland units were transferred to WR in March 1967, second class carriages were added and joined various routes already served by WR Blue Pullmans including Birmingham Snow Hill, Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea.
The London to Bristol route with its bowling green gradients proved that 90mph was attainable over long sections, but the units were criticised for poor riding quality.
Technically weighing in at 370 tons the 8 car units were underpowered. The NBL/MAN V12’S only produced 1000hp and even though they were top and tailed the overall 2000hp was inadequate to cope with the Devon Banks and to my knowledge they did not visit the Duchy. (hopefully someone will come up with a photograph to prove me wrong!)
Two underfloor 190 bhp Rolls Royce engines also provided air conditioning.
It could be said that they formed a test bed for the introduction of the HST, however this was the period when unfashionable over engineering and proliferation of non standard designs was coming to an end.
The striking Nanking blue livery certainly transformed the image of British Rail and to this day it has proved with this latest HST reinvention, that it can still ‘cuts the mustard’ and hopefully looking at forward bookings for 2021, it will prove a worthy extension to the working life of the versatile and in my opinion, hard to beat HST, a design now over 46 years old and still going strong……...Over engineered? A compromise at its inception but ultimately a solution to under investment, in electrification.
I wonder what the service life of a Hitachi 800 series will be, cracks are already forming, (sorry) only time will tell…...Brunel would certainly turn in his grave!
Andrew adds...a post script to my article on the blue pullman...I have found out that one set ventured to Plymouth...its the only mention I could find and sadly no photographs so far..
Former LMR set 60090 / 60730 / 60740 / 60741 / 60731 / 60091 worked from London to Plymouth on Christmas Eve 1970. It returned empty to Bristol, being piloted over the banks between Plymouth and Exeter by Western D1054 'Western Governor'