Northern Belle brings a post-lockdown treat for Northampton train enthusiasts
Luxury Pullman coaches hauled by heritage loco is set to call at Castle station on July 4
One of the world’s most luxurious trains will finally pull into Northampton station this summer — exactly one year late!
The Northern Belle’s seven restored 1930s-style Pullman carriages were once part of the iconic Orient Express group and one was even used by the Queen as part of the Royal Train.
Plans for a trip from Castle station in 2020 were derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Boris Johnson's announcement of easing lockdown restrictions allowed the owners of the historic train to timetable a visit on July 4.
Passengers, who will be welcomed on board with a glass of champagne, will have the choice of tucking into a seven-course Sunday lunch or opting for a classic afternoon tea.
But the exact route after it leaves Northampton at 1.30pm for a five-hour trip through the Midlands is being kept secret to avoid hordes of trainspotters crowding station platforms to see it.
A Northern Belle spokesman said: “Lots of people always want to photograph the train and normally we would be delighted to see them.
“Our passengers love it too, waving back at everybody. They say it makes them feel like royalty!
“But this year in view of Covid it would be irresponsible to encourage people to break social distancing rules.
“It was very disappointing having to cancel last year’s trip but those disappointed people who had already booked were offered a refund or the chance to rebook for this year.
“Many decided to rebook which is why we are recommending people to book soon if they want to travel on this year’s train.”
Actor Bill Nighy described the Northern Belle as the "Grand Duchess of Luxury Trains” when it featured on Channel 5’s World Most Scenic Railways programme earlier this year.
And the Pullman carriages, one of which was used by the Queen on her Royal Train, will be hauled by a heritage locomotive .
The service was named to evoke memories of the Belle trains of the 1930s, including the weekly Northern Belle operated by the London North Eastern Railway between King's Cross and Harrogate every June from 1933 to 1939.
Dining car interiors are decorated with artwork, mosaics and wooden panels with marquetry created by A Dunn and Son, a family firm that dates from 1895 and which created panels for carriages that ran on the original Belle services
The service runs excursions around the country, drawing crowds of railway enthusiasts and passengers wanting to be pampered pulled by a mix of steam and heritage diesel locos.
Then a liveried steward hands them a glass of champagne before they tuck Into a slap-up seven-course lunch cooked on board or relax with a traditional afternoon tea.
Northern Belle managing director Jeanette Snape said: “We transport people back to the golden age of rail travel. A more relaxed time, when how you reached your destination was as important as the destination itself.
“We’re delighted to be visiting Northampton for the first time and hope this will be the first of many trips from the town.”
Visit northernbelle.co.uk for more details or call 01270 899681.