Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saturday Film Club: Blue Pullman



Did any of the Blue Pullman's survive the cutter torch? According to a corespondent on Facebook this week, one still exists converted to an Army command centre. Part of the mysterious strategic reserve hidden in a bunker somewhere.

Fanciful? 

Probably. For the moment though, let's glory in this train in its prime.

4 comments:

Huw Griffiths said...

I take it this rumoured "strategic reserve" was actually a collection of rather rough looking motive power - at one time in the possession of a scrap merchant - near some docks originally built to export Welsh coal but more recently used to import bananas.

Of course, lots of people know that there was nothing "top secret" about any of this stuff.

The docks are near Cardiff, at Barry. As for the scrap merchant, he became something of a legend amongst people keen on saving steam locos. His name? David Lloyd Victor Woodham.

Phil Parker said...

The mythical "strategic reserve" is a cache of steam engines, and laterly diesels, placed in store in full working order so the railways could be brought back into use after a conflict. Locations vary but you'd need a massive hidden bunker for them.

Amy Bucki Ben Bucki said...

Actually the 'army command train' existed, in various forms; there are references to several of them, one for each planned post-nuclear attack organisational region, in the book "War Plan UK" by the investigative journo Duncan Campbell. The book was an examination of the Thatcher Government and their inadequate preparations for a possible nuclear war. The chapter on transport mentions a Government command train which used to be parked in the Much Wenlock area, and which was far from secret (he comments in the text that it was well known to local rail enthusiasts).

He also rubbishes the myth of the Strategic Steam Reserve (I believe the idea of the 'missing locomotives' from the scrapping records is now generally attributed to poor book-keeping, and a great deal of wishful thinking by enthusiasts). According to Campbell's investigations, the government of the 80's recognised that the infrastructure for coaling and watering didn't exist any more anyway, and planned to requisition locos from the preserved railways if necessary, and apparatus like the Green Goddess water tender fleets would presumably be used for replenishment of water. But generally speaking, Campbell drew the conclusions it wasn't worth worrying about it, because the lack of the rest of the contingency planning would render the post-bomb world of the 80's so grim there wouldn't be a surviving society advanced enough to need transport...

The 'Stratetegic Steam Reserve' was supposedly located in the Box Hill area near Bristol, where the command bunker for the Government was located and which was rail-served from its days as an ammo store in the second world war. But the site is apparently mostly sold off now (though some is reported to still be in Government ownership; its inability to survive a H bomb rendered it pretty useless and it is maintained on a minimal care basis. An urbex group who visited part of the site said it was leaking and in poor repair), and no evidence of a mass of steam locomotives has ever been uncovered. To be honest, under Freedom of Information Requests info about a massive fleet of locos would surely have seeped out by now, and a hundred mothballed, decades-out-of-use Black 5's and 8F's would hardly be the most super-secret issue the army are hanging onto these days. Unless they really exist and are the fallback plan for replacing Pacers in the Northern Powerhouse...

That's not to say that in a rusting shed on some airfield or logistics base somewhere the mystery ex-Blue Pullman, or carriages thereof, don't still exist as part of the Command Trains but given how quickly the Government have offloaded MOD land since the early 1990's I'd have thought that something so historically important would have come to light to the railway enthusiast community somewhere by now.

luke stevens said...

If we can new build an A1, P2 and a Baby Deltic (reconditioned prime mover) a power car and coach from one of these should be worth it!