Dover
Lock and Key of the Kingdom

The Golden Arrow
Home
History
Defence
Transport
Leisure
Places
People
Words
Information

Support the site! Please use the advertiser links

Email this Page to a Friend
Contact Us
Railways
<< Back

 

Image:  The 'Golden Arrow' emerging from Shakespeare Cliff Tunnel in 1947.
The 'Golden Arrow' emerging from Shakespeare Cliff Tunnel in 1947.

 

In 1926 a new all first class Pullman train service, the ‘Flèche d’Or’, was introduced between Calais and Paris. Connecting ferry services and trains from Dover to London were run by the Southern Railway, and after a year or so it decided to introduce a similar all first class Pullman service on the English side, with a new luxury ferry making the sea link.

On 15 May 1929 the new ‘Golden Arrow’ / ‘Flèche d’Or’ service began. The trains left both capitals at 11:00 am and the ‘Golden Arrow’ on the English side usually consisted of 10 Pullman cars, pulled by one of the Southern Railway’s new ‘Lord Nelson’ class express locomotives. The run to Dover took 98 minutes and the crossing to Calais was made on board the new luxury ferry the ‘Canterbury’.

Unfortunately the early 1930’s was not the best period for the running of a first class only, luxury train in Britain, and the ‘Golden Arrow’ soon included ordinary first and second class coaches in its formation as the need for Pullmans gradually declined. The service was abandoned in September 1939 with the outbreak of World War 2.

On 15 April 1946 the ‘Golden Arrow’ resumed service and was again an all Pullman formation but this time with first and second class cars. The train was formed with pre-war Pullmans which had been stored during the war but in 1951, to coincide with the Festival of Britain Exhibition in London, a new set of Pullman cars was built.

In the early 1950’s the timing and route of the ‘Golden Arrow’ was changed, it now left London Victoria at 2:00 pm and ran to Folkestone Harbour rather than Dover on the outward journey, with the return service still working from Dover.

In May 1960 the train reverted to Dover as it Channel port for both outward and return journeys, and went back to its morning departure time from London. Ordinary non-Pullman coaches appeared in the formation once again, but normally not more than two. In 1961 the remaining sections of line to the Kent Coast were electrified and the train was now hauled by new electric locomotives.

The rapid expansion during the 1960’s of private motoring and the introduction of new car ferry ships and hovercraft across the Channel, plus the expansion of air services between London and Paris, led to a decline in use. The final service of the ‘Golden Arrow’ ran on 30th September 1972. Some of the Pullman cars that once ran on the ‘Golden Arrow’ have been restored and are now in use in the English portion of the "Venice-Simplon Orient Express", running over much the same route as they did in the past.

 

 


Image:  A 1920s Poster advertising the new service.
A 1920s Poster advertising the new service.



Image:  The 'Golden Arrow' at the at Dover Marine Station.
The 'Golden Arrow' at the at Dover Marine Station.

 

Image:  Inside one of the Pullman cars built in 1951.
Inside one of the Pullman cars built in 1951.

Image:  The 'Golden Arrow' pulling out of Dover Marine Station.
The 'Golden Arrow' pulling out of Dover Marine Station.

 

 


BACK TO TOP

Image:  Shakespeare Cliff.transparent