A Pullman train and a Chelsea Pensioner

I met my first Chelsea Pensioner two days ago. We stood next to each other – waiting for a taxi – in Orange Grove.

Sorry there is no photographic evidence of my encounter, but l thought it a little rude to make him – resplendent in his red tunic – pose for a smartphone picture.

Just in case you don’t know what a Chelsea Pensioner looks like – here’s His Majesty the King meeting a couple a few years ago when he was Prince of Wales. Photo credit: Nick Panagakis.

This gentleman – a resident of the Royal Hospital Chelsea of course – had arrived in the city on the Belmond British Pullman. A steam-powered train that had brought 13 coachloads of travelers – those able to buy a ticket on arguably Britain’s most expensive rail excursion – to Bath.

He was off to quickly inspect our Georgian crescents before the return trip home. I was still reeling from the shock of returning from London, myself by rail, to find my electric bike stolen.

But enough about me, our ace photographer (and steam train fan) Rob Coles was very busy marking that special rail visit with a flurry of pictures.

He writes:

“This week’s Pullman train might be of interest because of the Royal connection – the locomotive having been driven by King Charles III.   

The photos of the derelict station might also be of interest, it was all a bit creepy.

When the Belmond British Pullman arrived in Bath this week it was not hauled by the usual Locomotive but by the ex-LMS Princess Coronation Class 6233 Duchess of Sutherland. 

It was a long train, much longer than to days trains, with 13 coaches, all but a couple being heavy Pullman cars and 6233 was unaided.

 Since preservation and restoration the Duchess has twice headed the Royal Train and on one occasion the now King Charles III was on the footplate at the controls for fifteen minutes.

My search for different photographic locations takes me to some strange and often lonely locations, this week I explored the derelict and graffiti-covered station at Shockerwick where ammunition was unloaded for the underground Monkton Farleigh depot. 

The ammunition was at first transferred from the railway platforms to the depot by ariel ropeway. Later it was by a conveyor belt in a specially dug tunnel.   

Was it a good location to photograph the returning Pullman? Very definitely no!”

Editor’s note: All photos courtesy of Rob Coles.