This photograph raises lots of questions that I would love to know the answers to. Peter Collins seems to think that the diversion of some trains to Kensington Olympia from Euston was in the early 1970s, but can anybody get any closer than this? The trees seem to be in full leaf, so sometime between May and September; but which year? Can anybody actually identify the train, and really pushing the bounds of optimism the pair of Sulzers actually used?
I am no expert in the Royal Train, but does anybody have any details on the make up of the train in the early 1970s. There is a Mk1. Sleeper within the rake of coaches in blue/grey livery and also a maroon restaurant car. In addition there are two of the dedicated Royal Train saloons, but which ones I am unclear.
Whatever the service is, there is a buffet available for passengers given the contents of the trolley on the platform, although there doesn’t seem much if the service is a long distance one; half a dozen milk bottles won’t last long!
The photo captures the era when British Rail was moving away from steam and into the diesel era, at least when looking at the left hand side of the image. Look to the right half, and we see semaphore signals and steam era coaching stock (Royal or otherwise).
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Peter Collins has captured everything I remember as a train spotter in the 1970s with his photograph taken at King’s Cross. My first encounters up close with Deltics was at King’s Cross when my Dad took me from our home in Buckinghamshire to pick up Grandma from a Newcastle train. Apparently I would cab the locos with my Dad (aged 3; that’s me, not my Dad!), and he would be my chaperone as the spotting bug kicked in in the mid-1970s until I was deemed old enough to go myself. The Post Office trollies, the bag for butties, drinks, the Ian Allan books and the notebooks are all to familiar a scene for many.
By the time I visited King’s Cross, electrification had swept away the infrastructure from steam days, but Deltics still drew the crowds to the platform ends. The last time I was there, over ten years ago, there were no spotters and it seemed very difficult to get onto the platforms.
The Gresley Buffet car E9131E (built in 1937) is looking a bit worn, and would last only a couple more years in BR service. I’m not sure the year, but I suspect that the photo was taken in the early 1970s, pre-TOPS, so if anybody can shed light on the possible working that would be great.
Fortunately the coach is still with us, having been restored to it’s former glory by the Severn Valley Railway as part of it’s Teak Carriage set.