Historically and technically, this is a very important train. The Brighton Belle is the only one of its kind in the world; it is the source of countless fond memories for many travellers. Unfortunately, as with its counterparts, the Belle suffered from the Beecham reforms with several beautifully decorated carriages being lost for ever. Thankfully a number have survived which now are being enthusiastically restored by the Brighton Belle Trust. Specialist companies up and down the country have been brought together by Rampart Engineering to bring back the beauty and glamour of this much beloved train.
We at Wheathills have been charged with providing restoration expertise to repair, replace and conserve the interior marquetry panels. Great care is taken during the works to apply the correct and appropriate methodology to enable the wonderful atmospheric appearance of the original layout to be maintained and in return provide a fabulous historic train journey. Although the train will remain as original as possible, the engineering will be brought up to modern standards by Ramparts to enable the train to run on the main line between London and Brighton. The condition of the panelling is very poor with severe water ingress throughout carriages 85, 88 and 91. Inappropriate repairs and fire damage have also taken their toll leaving a disheartening level of mismatched timbers, standard of finish and missing components. Wheathills, in conjunction with Morrells, have developed a specialist fire-retardant finish to allow the panels to be French Polished to the required standard.
The immense efforts of the Belle Trust are now beginning to see results after many years of meticulous planning. Restoration is taking place in all areas of engineering and cabinetry. In this snapshot of two years of work you can see the type of restoration requirements and some of the dedicated craftspeople here at Wheathills involved in this project. Please also visit www.brightonbelle.com to learn more and help them in their cause by showing your support and passing on the good news about the restoration of this fine piece of British workmanship.