Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal trains

This being the day of a Royal wedding, I can reflect on Wolverton's long association with coach building for the Royal Family. In the building of coaches of the highest quality Wolverton was pre-eminent and the workmen were able to meet the exacting standards expected for the monarch.

Coaches were built there for Royal use from the 1840s but the 1869 saloons built for Queen Victoria set new standards. Carriages were limited in length because of the need to negotiate curves on the track safely, but the royal entourage demanded more space than could be satisfactorily squeezed into a single carriage. Victoria, however, was very nervous about stepping from one carriage to the next, so the Wolverton engineers came up with the idea of a bellows unit that could connect two carriages without exposing passengers to the elements. Before long this feature became standard on all trains. I have discussed some of this here.

Here are some photos:

 The first is an early royal carriage from the National Railway Museum.


This drawing from 1844 illustrates the very sumptuous interiors of those early royal coaches.


And here is an interior shot of the carriage shed at Wolverton where the Royal Train was housed and maintained when not in use. The shell of the building is still there on the embankment above Wolverton Park, but now this building has been converted into residential apartments.

And finally, the National Railway Museum Blog has a posting about Wolverton's royal carriage building here.

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