Car 36 entered service in July 1926 on the "Southern Belle" between London Victoria and Brighton, initially with 54 seats in a 2+2 arrangement. After electrification of the Brighton line, and replacement by the "Brighton Belle" electric units, Car 36 continued to be used on the central division of the Southern Railway (by now with 42 seats in the more normal 2+1 arrangement) until withdrawn from service for the duration of the Second World War. It did however, on 26 September 1940, suffer damage due to enemy action whilst in storage.
In 1946, now as Second Class 'Car No.194', it was allocated to the "Golden Arrow", which restarted on 15 April that year after the wartime cessation. This was the British portion of the London-Paris service, running between Victoria and Dover, complete with arrows and "Golden Arrow / Fleche d'Or" insignia painted on the
bodysides. Soon after, however, painted boards held on with clips were used to give greater flexibility.
From 4 May 1947 the second class cars were removed from the "Golden Arrow". Reverting to 'Car No.36' it served on the "Devon Belle" (alongside the Bluebell's Car 54 and 'Fingall'). One of its lavatory compartments was converted into a guard's compartment and so, like Car 54, it has the heavier guard's doors at one end.
When the new cars built for the "Golden Arrow" were introduced in 1951, Car 36 was one of the older cars sent to the Pullman Works at Preston Park to be modified to run with them, receiving aluminium panelling on the bodyside, and the oval "cathedral" lavatory lights (windows) were replaced by the rectangular type as fitted to the 1951 cars. It then ran regularly on the "Golden Arrow", and subsequently (after the number of Pullman Cars on that service was reduced in 1964/5) on other Southern services, and was on the "Bournemouth Belle" at the time it was withdrawn in 1967.
It was one of five Pullmans which then formed the Bulmers' Cider Train, when it carried the name 'Morella' and was painted green, red and white. These 5 cars were subsequently sold to the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, in 1986. Along with 'Aquila' it went to the Colne Valley Railway in 1988, moving there in part-exchange for 'Gwen' which became part of the VSOE fleet. On the Colne Valley it was named 'Hermione'.
At the end of 2019 the car was purchased privately for use on the Bluebell. Although it was operational on the Colne Valley, before entering service on the Bluebell it requires at a minimum rewiring (from 240V AC to 24V DC), provision of steam heat, fitting luggage racks (actually hat racks), and re-instatement of the missing partition, which it is believed is still in existence, as well as some mechanical and bodywork maintenance. The existing non-Pullman seating was retained by the Colne Valley Railway as we will fit original Pullman-type seating in due course.
The photo left, by David Jones, show the carriage arriving at the Bluebell, and that below the bare interior - it had originally been stripped internally when used as a cinema coach on the Bulmers' "Cider Train".
Work to put it into service is not expected to start until after Car 54 enters service.