5 Bel - "The Brighton Belle"

Brighton Belle
The down Brighton Belle passes through Wandsworth Common station in March 1964.
Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
Following the Southern Railway's 1932 electrification of the line to Brighton, the all electric, all Pullman Southern Belle was inaugurated on 1st January 1933 and three five car units, known as 5 Bel, were supplied for the service:
Unit No. 2051 2052 2053 Seats: 1st/3rd
Motor 3rd Parlour Brake 88 90 92   - / 48
First Kitchen Hazel Audrey Gwen   20 / -  
First Kitchen Doris Vera Mona   20 / -  
3rd Parlour 86 87 85   - / 56
Motor 3rd Parlour Brake 89 91 93   - / 48

They were built by Metropolitan Cammell and equipped with four BTH 225hp traction motors and control equipment. From 1st January 1937 1000 was added to the unit numbers and they became 3051, 3052 and 3053 and these were retained until the final run of the "The Belle", on Sunday, 30th April 1972.

The up Brighton Belle entering Redhill Tunnel northbound on the quarry line.

photograph by Keith Harwood

Brighton Belle
Originally the "Belle" was London based and three non-stop round trips per weekday were run:
  Victoria depart 11.00 a.m. Brighton depart 1.25 p.m.  
  Brighton arrive 12.00 noon Victoria arrive 2.25 p.m.  
  Victoria depart 3.00 p.m. Brighton depart 5.25 p.m.  
  Brighton arrive 4.00 p.m. Victoria arrive 6.25 p.m.  
  Victoria depart 7.00 p.m. Brighton depart 8.25 p.m.  
  Brighton arrive 8.00 p.m. Victoria arrive 9.25 p.m.  
Latterly the Belle units became Brighton based which allowed an earlier departure from Brighton and a late night return from London and were favoured by the acting fraternity (such as Laurence Olivier - later Lord Brighton) and theatre-goers alike.
The additional trips were:
  Victoria depart 11.00 p.m.# Brighton depart 9.40 a.m.  
  Brighton arrive 12.00 midnight Victoria arrive 10.40 a.m.  
  # Called additionally at Haywards Heath
Brighton Belle at Victoria The Brighton Belle standing at Platform 13 at Victoria. Note the "extra" track starting by the front of the train. Before the station was rebuilt many of the platforms could accept two eight car trains. The middle line was so that the train nearest the buffers could leave when there was one still standing behind it. The Brighton Belle shown here consists of ten cars and is, therefore, fouling the point in question!

photograph from John Bradshaw collection

Trains were either 5-car or 10-car, depending on the demand, and one unit was held spare to cover for failures and repairs. However it was not unknown, at some times, for the service to be covered by a 5-Bel plus a 6-Pul or a 4-Buf/Res.
Ten car "Belle", with unit Nº3051 in the rear, photographed leaving Clapham Junction. Date not known.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Brighton Belle
Brighton Belle Unit Nº3052 photographed at the head of a ten car "Belle" in 1968, belived to be near Gatwick Airport.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

A ten car down blue "Belle" photographed on the Quarry Line, date not known.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Brighton Belle
Brighton Belle "Belle" units 3051 and 3053 diverted from the Quarry Line and heading through Coulsdon South on 23rd January 1972.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

The RCTS Brighton Belle Commemorative with unit Nº3053 photographed at Eastbourne on 1st April 1972.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Brighton Belle
Brighton Belle Unit Nº 3051 on a "Cheese and Wine Special" photographed at Horsham during April 1972.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

The same unit photographed near Gatwick Airport 30th April 1972, the last day of Brighton Belle operation.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Brighton Belle

All photographs are copyright

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This page was last updated 28 October 2020

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