People said that it couldn't be done, but we are bringing back a complete early 1930s train to the mainline; in all it's Art Deco splendour, the world's most famous electric train, the Brighton Belle. The journey has been more complex, more time-consuming and more expensive than we envisaged when we launched the project. While the end is in sight, how soon we complete the restoration really depends on you. Our ambition is to have a complete five car set running within two years - can you help us achieve this. Become a Friend of the Brighton Belle - your regular contributions allow our technical team to better plan ahead and speed up progress. Or dig deep into your pockets and make a donation which takes just a few seconds.....and convince your friends and colleagues to do the same as every contribution gets us to the launch date quicker. Every single pound will bring forward the date when this wonderful train returns to the mainline - where she belongs.
Another sign of the project moving ever faster is the appointment of Wheathills of Derby to restore the interiors of the Brighton Belle cars. Click here to see Wheathills' craftsmen in action, restoring exquisite furniture and artefacts - often in very trying circumstances!
This family run business maintains a long standing tradition based on inherited skill and experience stretching back to the early 1800’s when Baron Theodore Otto Alexander Heldreich was employed - as a prisoner captured during the Napoleonic Wars - as a natural varnish maker. Their busines expanded throughout the 19th century to incorporate painting, brass working and clock making. Today, they are a leading restorer and preserver of period property interiors and antique furniture, giving the project the rich blend of traditional skills required to return each of our 1932-built cars to their former Art Deco glory!
Click on the first image below to see the craftsmanship required to restore the Belle interiors after more than 80 years of exposure to operations and often damp storage. Image 1 shows a panel of Car 91 before restoration. Image 2 shows a craftsman creating new bearers or 'hooks' for the panelling to sit on. Image 3 shows the clamping of newly-spliced timber. And image 4 shows recreated marquetry for the end wall of Car 85. Wheathill's well-honed skills in action elsewhere is shown in Image 5, recreating panelling for a significant Listed Building. (Images by Wheathills)
Keep up to date by subscibing to our Newsletter!
Saturday, 15 March 2014 00:00
Our regular Brighton Belle Newsletters keep you fully up to date with the latest news on progress with the restoration of this wonderful train and the projected dates for her return to the British mainline!
Click here to read the extensive March 2014 issue. You can also sign up for future editions by entering your email address here.
Win this framed original painting of the Pullman Works in 1955!
Saturday, 01 March 2014 00:00
As we approach the 60th anniversary of the Belle's last major overhaul, we have commissioned an evocative painting of Unit 3051 in the Pullman Works in the summer of 1955. How would you like to have the original signed and framed painting on your wall? Just click on the image and donate a minimum of £5 using our secure online payment link or send a cheque, made payable to The 5BEL Charitable Trust, to The Secretary, 5BEL Trust, Old Hall, Strethall, Saffron Walden CB11 4XJ. funds raised will help accelerate the pace of restoration of this marvellous train.
The draw will be held on 1 June 2014.
Tuesday, 18 February 2014 00:00
The Brighton Belle shed at Barrow Hill is beginning to resemble the Pullman Works at Preston Park in 1955 when the Belle received her last major overhaul! Click on the image to see what we mean! Heavy engineering work is underway on three cars - Cars 85, 88 and 91 - and a re-think on the design of the underframes will add not only extra strength and crash resistance, but also a significantly shorter period of re-engineering in the shed.
Click here to download a comprehensive report on progress. The project to return the Belle to the mainline has truly moved up a gear. Just how quickly we return all six of our cars into service will depend on the level of donations made by the public - please help us to get her back in service.....where she belongs.
Call in for a chat at Brighton Modelworld!
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 00:00
Come and meet the 5BEL team at the amazing Brighton Modelword Exhibition! Our stand is supported by our friends from the world-famous Brighton Toy & Model Museum. Brighton Modelworld runs from 21 - 23 February (Friday to Sunday); in it's 36th year, this will be the biggest Modelworld Exhibition ever, with more than 150 stands. We are located right in the foyer of the Brighton Centre, near the entrance door, so it's hard to miss us! Do drop by for a chat. Click on the image to see some of the activity in just one of the exhibition halls. For opening times and ticket prices, visit the Brighton Modelworld website.
New History of the Brighton Belle published!!
Monday, 02 September 2013 00:00
A fabulously detailed and illustrated book on the history of the Brighton Belle has been published by our Heritage Advisor, Antony Ford. "Pullman Profile No 4: The Brighton Belle and Southern Electric Pullmans" is the product of absolutely meticulous research from Europe's principal Pullman expert. While Antony's first three volumes were widely acclaimed for their combination of in-depth insight and a plethora of previously unpublished images, this new title sets an even higher standard.
The book has an appeal on a number of levels, but for the Pullman devotee, it is all there. The specifications for the engineering and the interior design and the subsequent changes are described in detail. For the student of design these marvellous icons of 1930s art deco are revealed in many luscious illustrations. For the social historian luxury travel in an earlier age is brought to life in words and pictures. For the railway historian the rise and decline of Pullman travel on the Southern Railway and Region is described objectively and with insight, penetrating the economic problems of operating the Brighton Belle and those Pullman cars within trains of green carriages.
You can buy the book via the Brighton Belle Bookshop here - terrific value and every copy purchased this way raises a small contribution towards the Brighton Belle project.
Walk through "Hazel" on the Belle's 80th anniversary!
Having been launched as the Southern Belle on 1 January 1933, Brighton's Lady Mayor, Miss Margaret Hardy, performed the naming service - surrounded by massed well-wishers - at Brighton Station on 29 June 1934. meanwhile, at London's Victoria Station, this momentous event was marked by the erection of a decorative 'Brighton Belle Arch' on Platform 17 - the dedicated Brighton Belle platform.
The walk through is revealing - you can sense the sumptuous Art deco splendour....as well as the challenge! You can help us to speed her restoration by making a secure online donation.
Riding a VOP on 'Southern Saturday'
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 00:00
Rides on the VOP proved extremely popular on 'Southern Saturday'. If you weren't able to get to Barrow Hill, here we see 3905, topped and tailed by 33108 and 71001.
The VOP, which was about to be scrapped, will yield the essential spares package needed to sustain long term mainline running by the Brighton Belle. All un-needed material will be recycled free of charge to other restoration and preservation groups to help them to complete their projects.
Click on the four arrows icon to see the action in full screen mode.
Buy from Amazon and help fund the restoration!
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 11:04
The Brighton Belle Bookshop offers a huge selection of books, CDs and DVDs. Do browse around the store! Each item is sold and dispatched by Amazon UK. Every single item purchased via our links to Amazon - no matter whether this is a book, clothes, a CD or a TV - produces commissions to support the restoration project. At no extra cost to yourself. For non-book items just click on the 'Powered by Amazon' logo to enter Amazon's UK site.
Click here to visit the Brighton Belle Bookshop. And encourage your friends to use this link!
Southern Saturday At Barrow Hill!
Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00
Come to Barrow Hill on Saturday 30 March to celebrate 'Southern Saturday'! You'll not only find five Brighton Belle cars together for the first time in forty years, but you can ride in an ultra-rare 4-VOP unit hauled by 33108 and 71001! You can inspect progress with the restoration project in the Brighton Belle shed and chat to our friendly team of engineers and stall-holders. And, if that's not enough, the Deltic Shed will be open and you can see 30075 USA Tank on the turntable, along with Peppercorn A2 Class No. 60532 'Blue Peter' and many others! A great day out for all the family!
Barrow Hill will be open from 10 am until 4 pm - tickets (on the door) priced £8 (kids £4). There's a free bus service from Chesterfield Station or you can park on-site (download directions from here). Click on the image for full details.