John Speller's Web Pages SER Continental Club Train

John Speller's Web Pages - SE&CR
SER Continental Club Train Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled
To serve the Paris International Exposition of 1889 the London, Chatham & Dover Railway introduced an express called the "Club Train," making use of luxury saloons furnished by the Compagnie International des Wagons Lits. The train ran from London to Dover, via its ferry service to Calais, and thence via the Compagnie des Chemins de fer du Nord to Paris.

Not wishing to be outdone, Sir Edward Watkin introduced a similar train on the South Eastern Railway. The South Eastern train was officially known as the "Continental Club Train," but most people referred to both trains indisciminately as the "Club Trains."

The South Eastern train consisted of two first class saloons, and a fourgon-fumier (brake/smoking saloon) supplied, like the LC&DR train, by the Compagnie International des Wagons Lits, and a South Eastern birdcage brake, painted in a smart livery of green picked out in cream, and hauled by a Stirling "F" Class 4-4-0 locomotive.

Unlike the other South Eastern Railway Dover boat trains, which ran from Cannon Street, the Continental Club Train ran in and out of Charing Cross. Both the LC&DR and SER trains left London at 4.15 p.m., the South Eastern train making better time and arriving in Dover at 5.55 p.m., with the Chatham line train arriving five minutes later at 6.00 p.m. So far as the Channel crossing was concerned, however, the LC&DR took the lead since the South Eastern ferries were no match for speed when up against the Chatham company's fleet.

Both the LC&DR and SER trains proved a financial disaster. Even the Compagnie des Chemins de fer du Nord, who did not have to compete with a rival train, made a hefty loss on the service. Both the Chatham and South Eastern trains were taken off in 1893.

The Wagons Lits coaches were refurbished at Ashford and were later operated over the South Eastern Railway by the Pullman Company.
South Eastern Railway Continental Club Train passing through Tonbridge in around 1890 behind a Stirling "F" Class 4-4-0 locomotive. With their 7 ft. 0 in. driving wheels and 15,195 lb. tractive effort, these were in the forefront of locomotive design in their day. One of them, No. 240, won a Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition of 1889
Another view of the Continental Club Train running on the South Eastern Railway in the early 1890s
British-born Alfred de Glehn (1848-1936) designed 3-cylinder compound 2-6-0 No. 3101 (later No. 3.395), built for the Compagnie des Chemins de fer du Nord in 1887 and exhibited at the Paris International Exposition of 1889. These locomotives would probably have been used on the French end of the Club Trains
French poster advertizing the LCDR and SER Club Trains. Note the Eiffel Tower, built as the entrance arch to the Paris International Exposition of 1889
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