Venice Simplon Orient Express by Sherwood Return of the world's most celebrated
Venice Simplon Orient Express by Shirley Sherwood
Hard Cover w/Dust jacket (has plastic covering) Reflections form the plastic covering in cover photos. Inscription on one page
Introduction by James B. Sherwood11
1 THE HISTORY OF THE ORIENT-EXPRESS15
2 THE STORIES OF THE CARRIAGES35
Summary of data on the VS-O-E carriages73
3 FINDING AND RESTORING THE CARRIAGES75
4 DESIGN AND ARTEFACTS 99
5 PLANNING THE JOURNEY 107
6 PROMOTION AND THE FIRST RUNS115
7 THE JOURNEY127
People involved with the VS-O-E project151
Bibliographies154 History of the Orient-Express and Luxury Trains
Fiction Films Venice
Questions most often asked about the train156
DUST JACKET INTRODUCTION
For a century the Orient-Express has been the symbol of luxury travel in Europe, evocative of excitement, romance and intrigue. Its last run, in May 1977, aroused the interest ofJames Sherwood, President of the Sea Containers Group, who tracked down over thirty old 1920s carriages from all over Europe and had them lovingly restored by expert craftsmen, often from a state of almost hopeless dilapidation. Today the gleaming coaches of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express transport passengers between London and Venice in exquisite surroundings originally conceived by the master designers of the Art Deco period.
This beautifully illustrated book traces the history of luxury train travel in Europe, including famous services such as the old Orient-Expresses, the Golden Arrow and the Train Bleu. The author details the story of each car in the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, revealing its links with politics, royalty and international intrigue.
With the help of fascinating `before and after' pictures the book describes the painstaking process of restoring marquetry and panelling ruined by years of wear and neglect, of bringing the vintage carriages up to modern safety standards and of re-creating classic items like the Art Nouveau `tulip' lights originally designed by Lalique. We share in the excitement leading up to the relaunching of the train in 1982 and the book ends with an account of the romantic trip across Europe which, as James Sherwood hoped, has restored the art of travel.
The second question everyone asks about my involvement with the train is `Were you a railway buff as a little boy?' The answer is `No, but I am now!'.
The first question is, of course, `Why did you do it?'. The Sea Containers Group made its first venture into the luxury hotel business in 1976 by purchasing the renowned Cipriani Hotel in Venice. Sea Containers wanted to acquire other leisure properties in Europe but found that many of the best known were `affairs of the heart' and not of the pocket. When the last trip of the Orient-Express took place in May 1977 the world-wide publicity was enormous; this was followed by a Sotheby's sale in Monte Carlo in October 1977 of five 1920s Orient-Express carriages which had been used in the film Murder on the Orient Express. I decided to attend the sale with the idea of picking up some bargains. The mob scene of press and TV which jammed the Monte Carlo railway goods depot that day convinced me that there was magic in the Orient-Express name. I bought two of the carriages and sent them to the Sea Containers depot in Bordeaux, France, where they were stored under cover for two years while the Venice Simplon Orient-Express project was devised.
It took four and a half years from the (late of the Monte Carlo sale to locate the rolling stock, learn how to restore it, negotiate the routing, engage the staff and promote the operation. The first run of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express was on 25 May 1982 from London to Venice. I gave the inaugural speech standing on platform 8 at Victoria Station in front of Pullman coach Audrey, facing a battery of cameramen from all over the world.
'I know just how the Pope feels. Both he and I are committed to inaugural events in Britain this week and we are both wondering whether they are appropriate in view of the Falklands war. Nevertheless, we are going ahead with the inaugural of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express because thousands of people have been working on these fabulous, historic Pullman and Orient-Express trains over the last four and a half years and their efforts deserve to be recognised. And 15,000 passengers are waiting their turn to travel on them.
One hundred years ago, almost to this very day, the first Pullman car was introduced into a continental boat train. The car was called Jupiter. It left from Victoria Station, probably only a few feet from where we are standing, and it operated to Dover on the line of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway. The Pullman car was an American idea, that of George Mortimer Pullman, and Jupiter had been assembled in Derby in [875 from parts supplied by Pullman from America. Unfortunately Jupiter was not a financial success because the prospective passengers did not want to pay the supplement on the fare to ride in her. I trust we will have no repetition of that sort of thing.
We are almost upon the centenary of the Orient-Express. It started in 1883 as a service from Paris to Constantinople proceeding north of the Alps. The most famous of the Orient-Express trains was the Simplon-Orient-Express and it came into being in a rather unusual way, by international treaty, the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The service was dictated by articles 321-386 and the routing from Paris via I.ausanne, Milan and Venice was required by the Western powers in order to avoid any dependence upon Germany and Austria, as these countries were deeply distrusted. The first Simplon-Orient-Express trip took place on 15 April 1919 and the last on 27 May 1977. The last trip of the by then decrepit train generated so much interest throughout the world that I made a mental note to investigate whether the train could he revived in all its between-the-wars glory. Today we see the result of that investigation.
The Orient-Express perhaps had the intrigue and the glory but Britons were carried to the Orient-Express in lush Pullmans in which many of you are going to ride today. The oldest car in our rake is Ibis, built in [925 by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company. It operated in France and Italy in its early years, then spent much of its life running in the Golden Arrow service from Victoria to Dover and Folkestone. It is one of my favourite cars because the marquetry panels squeak as the carriage leans into turns. I was not allowed to ride in her today because the TV people said it squeaks too much for their sound recorders.
Our ceremony today is being held in front of Audrey, built in 1932 by the Metropolitan Cammell Carriage and Wagon Company Limited for the Southern Belle, the world's first motorised Pullman service, which operated from London to Brighton starting in [933. In 1934 the Pullman Car Company changed the name of the service to the Brighton Belle and I think this service was one of the best known and loved in the country. Audrey's marquetry does not squeak.
Before I cut the ribbon I want to thank a few of the people who have been instrumental in bringing back this Pullman train: Lord Garnock and General Gribbon of Sallingbury, Bill McAlpine who made Steamtown in Carnforth available to us for the restoration, George Hinchcliffe and George Walker at Steamtown who carried out the work, Jack Bedser and James Mackay of British Rail who have been so helpful and patient with us novices in the railway business, and Alan Branch at Sealink who will be getting us across the Channel in comfort and on time. I also want to thank Sir Peter and Lady Parker for joining us today and express to him our hope that the current tensions between the unions and management of British Rail will he relieved so that our train and all the others can operate with regularity in the future.
It has been a great effort. It cost million to restore the Pullman and Orient-Express trains and I hope you will agree we have a grand result. I now declare the Venice Simplon-OrientExpress resumed.'
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