LUGGAGE VAN – the Churchill funeral hearse
This carriage, which was built in 1931 at the Ashford works, formed the hearse of Winston Churchill’s state funeral train on 30 January 1965, carrying his coffin on the rail part of his final journey to his burial place.
S2464 originally began life as a Gangwayed Bogie Luggage Van (GBL). The GBLs operated on the Southern Railway, where they were allocated to boat train traffic, including the premier Golden Arrow all Pullman car services. Its eventful life saw it forming part of CET No.33, one of Southern Railway’s three Casualty Evacuation Trains (CET) formed in 1939 in response to a request from the Ministry of Health.
In 1945, S2464 returned to service as a GBL, eventually being withdrawn between 1961 and 1962 and joining other withdrawn stock at Worthy Down.
When Sir Winston Churchill suffered a serious fall in Monte Carlo in 1962, S2464 was selected out of 24 vans as being ‘the best of a poor lot requiring the least amount of repair to make it presentable’. It was moved and repainted in the then Pullman livery of umber and cream. Churchill recovered, and S2464 went back into storage, but with strict instructions that it was not to be moved or used without authorisation.
Churchill suffered a fatal stroke in January 1965, and S2464 finally became part of the train which carried his coffin from London to Handborough, the nearest station to his final resting place in his family’s plot at Bladon, not far from his birthplace at Blenheim Palace.
With initial restoration carried out by the Swanage Railway Trust, and further work by the team at NRM Locomotion Shildon to bring it up to exhibition standard, S2464 is resplendent in the Pullman livery.
S2464 is owned by the Swanage Railway Trust, and has previously been displayed at the Railway Museum, York. It is on loan to The One:One Collection as a guest exhibit, having arrived in Margate in early September 2019.
Photos by: 1, 2, 3, 4 + 5 - David Babaian