The Origins of Long Distance Travel

The origins of sleeping cars with a degree of luxury on rails is attributed to one man, George Mortimer Pullman born in 1831 in Brockton, USA. Although not the only man to produce and run Sleeping cars in the USA, he was definitely the most successful, building more than 30,000 cars, buying out most of his competitors and even building the town of Pullman to house his employees.

In the old countries of Europe, railway systems were not as advanced. Many countries had laid tracks, but as most countries viewed their neighbour with suspicion Usually the tracks did not connect, frequently being of different gauge, incompatible brake systems or having buffers that would interlock on the curves. This was all deliberate to frustrate the neighbour's attempts to invade and if they did, then the railway equipment was useless to them back home.

In 1870 George Pullman visited Britain. During the visit he arranged with the forward thinking Midland Railway company to supply Pullman cars in kit form to run on the Midland Railway, one such car 'Midland' still exists although in rather derelict state at the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley.

 Pullman Car 'Midland' Conserved at MRC, Butterly Pullman Car 'Midland' Conserved at MRC, Butterly Pullman Car 'Midland' Conserved at MRC, Butterly Pullman Car 'Midland' Conserved at MRC, Butterly Pullman Car 'Midland' Conserved at MRC, Butterly

Photographs depicting the Pullman car, as it is today, at the Midland Railway Centre, Butterly. The car is to be conserved rather than restored to keep the original timber work. Only the coach body remains, the bogies and draw gear no longer exist. The body is currently mounted on a flat bed wagon. As was standard American practice the bodywork structure was also its strength as it did not have a separate chassis, the timber work being braced with tensioned iron truss rods. One such rod can be clearly seen on the second picture. As these cars ran in trains with coaches with the traditional steel chassis and matchwood bodies, in the event of an accident the Pullman cars were far safer for its occupants but acted like a battering ram with the other coaches, destroying their feeble structures.