UK Sleeping Car Services

Mutant Lemming

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I was wondering how extensive the sleeping car services were in the UK at their height and how many places were served. I imagine they would have been at their zenith between the wars though there seems to be no definitive history on sleeping car services (unless someone knows otherwise).
 
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30907

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I was wondering how extensive the sleeping car services were in the UK at their height and how many places were served. I imagine they would have been at their zenith between the wars though there seems to be no definitive history on sleeping car services (unless someone knows otherwise).
There have been several threads on the theme in the past few years focussing on the BR era. I strongly suspect that there were (slightly?) fewer in the Grouping era but have no evidence to hand.
 

The Planner

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Barrow is an interesting one, and I wouldnt have thought Nottingham to Glasgow was long enough to be a sleeper unless it was a roundabout route.
 

hexagon789

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Barrow is an interesting one, and I wouldnt have thought Nottingham to Glasgow was long enough to be a sleeper unless it was a roundabout route.
The Glasgow-Nottingham ran via the Glasgow and South Western and Settle-Carlisle, so a somewhat slower routing.
 

Lucan

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Barrow is an interesting one
I took that sleeper from Euston quite a few times when I had business at Vicker's ship building yard. It arrived in Barrow fairly early but you did not need to get up and out straight away. Had breakfast in the station cafe.
 

mailbyrail

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I caught the Nottingham-Glasgow sleeper sometime mid-week back in 1974 - well, the seated portion. The sleeping cars were ready in the bay which faces Lincoln, the passenger train arrived from Leicester, not sure if it had started at StPancras, the loco was detached, backed onto the sleeping car and shunted it onto the passenger coaches which then reversed direction and headed off to Glasgow, via the S&C and GSWR as already mentioned. I know I was able to stretch out in a seating compartment to myself so I don't think there can have been many passengers
 

6Gman

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Another curiosity were the sleeper services which operated in only one direction. Pretty sure Holyhead was one example. There was an Up Sleeper off the Irish boat, but no Down equivalent as far as I know. Presumably the vehicle(s) came back ECS during the day, though I've no recollection of ever seeing them.
 

mailbyrail

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I also used the Holyhead service many times and confirm it was a one way service whenever I used it. The night boat left Holyhead not long after midnight, far too early for any sleeping passengers. I always remember one afternoon leaving Cork, arriving Dublin, changing for a through train from Heuston to Dun Laoghaire, overnight boat to Holyhead, train to Manchester and onwards in time to start work in the morning in Doncaster.

Another anomaly was the sleeper which was the only passenger train on the line from Market Harborough to Northampton and on to Euston running in only one direction but justified showing the route on the BR all-systems map.
 

30907

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IIRC the one-way sleepers (even Holyhead) were a relatively late invention coinciding with the change to Mk 3s.
 

alistairlees

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If I ever get the time I will put together a potted history, at least from 1970 onwards. There isn't anything specific published, so far as I can find.
 
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Did the Liverpool to Scotland sleeper ever operate from Exchange ?
In timetables from the 1940s and 50s the Liverpool/Glasgow Sleeper operated from Lime Street. The train combined/split with a Manchester Exchange portion at Wigan NW.

Not sure of the situation pre-WW2, but I think in the immediate post-War period, these services were pretty much the same as had been provided by the LMS.
 

6Gman

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IIRC the one-way sleepers (even Holyhead) were a relatively late invention coinciding with the change to Mk 3s.
My recollection is that it was a one-way service even around 1970, normally with an ex-LMS sleeper.

EDITED to note that I appear to have been mistaken, and there was a Down Sleeper 2050 Euston - Holyhead. Can't imagine it was as busy as the Up service.
 
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Jensen

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I do recall catching the down sleeper to Holyhead in the early 1980's. First trip on a sleeper. Went to Holyhead to confirm surveys of extent of harbour facilities. I believe it was part of transfer to Sealink as a separate entity. Few years ago now. But do remember the more senior engineer I went with.
 
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The time honoured departure of the night boat to Dun Laoghaire from Holyhead was 0315 - with a connecting boat train (until Nov 1980) from the pier at Dun Laoghaire round to Dublin Connolly and Heuston for onward connections in Ireland. The 'Irish Mail' had sleeping cars in both directions until 1983, after which it was in the 'up' direction only. In 1974 the down 'Irish Mail' left Euston at 2115 with arrival in Holyhead at 0142 - the timetable sternly warns passengers that Irish passengers must vacate their berth on arrival in Holyhead, but other passengers could remain until 0730. It is doubtful how many Irish passengers would avail themselves of this facility (!) - presumably it was to balance the stock workings.
 

Mutant Lemming

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In timetables from the 1940s and 50s the Liverpool/Glasgow Sleeper operated from Lime Street. The train combined/split with a Manchester Exchange portion at Wigan NW.

Not sure of the situation pre-WW2, but I think in the immediate post-War period, these services were pretty much the same as had been provided by the LMS.
Does seem right - managed to find this to check up on the LMS timetable immediately prior to nationalisation and as you rightly say it has the Manchester portion starting from Manchester Exchange and the Liverpool portion from Lime Street.

www.timetableworld.com/book_viewer.php?id=7&section_id=1705
 

47271

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Let's not forget the exotic one way sleeper that operated between Glasgow and Aberdeen in the 1980s, a single mk3 placed amongst other mail, parcels and seated stock, and even more bizarrely, returning south coupled between the rearmost coach and the locomotive in the 11am-ish push pull service. They could've upgraded anyone fancying a bit of quiet and a nap...
 

30907

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Let's not forget the exotic one way sleeper that operated between Glasgow and Aberdeen in the 1980s, a single mk3 placed amongst other mail, parcels and seated stock, and even more bizarrely, returning south coupled between the rearmost coach and the locomotive in the 11am-ish push pull service. They could've upgraded anyone fancying a bit of quiet and a nap...
Especially exotic in that it was a new service altogether, rather than the remains of a 2-way one. Someone in BR enterprisingly trying to find a use for a spare Mk3?
 

Journeyman

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Let's not forget the exotic one way sleeper that operated between Glasgow and Aberdeen in the 1980s, a single mk3 placed amongst other mail, parcels and seated stock, and even more bizarrely, returning south coupled between the rearmost coach and the locomotive in the 11am-ish push pull service. They could've upgraded anyone fancying a bit of quiet and a nap...
Wow, I never knew about that one! That's even more marginal and bizarre than the Glasgow/Edinburgh - Inverness service. Any photos of it anywhere?
 

70014IronDuke

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Barrow is an interesting one, and I wouldnt have thought Nottingham to Glasgow was long enough to be a sleeper unless it was a roundabout route.
It was the final hurrah of what had been the 21.xx St Pancras - Glasgow sleeper. In order to do away with Sleeper servicing at Cricklewood, it was for a period in the early 70s diverted via Mkt Harboro and Northampton into Euston - where the stock was serviced with other sleepers at ... no sure, Wembley, I suppose.

EDIT - I now see 30907 had beaten me to it on this one.

To save yet more running, I think the ordinary stock reverted to running St Pancras-Nottingham, sleepers attached c midnight, and off via Derby to Scotland.

.. Another anomaly was the sleeper which was the only passenger train on the line from Market Harborough to Northampton and on to Euston running in only one direction but justified showing the route on the BR all-systems map.
As I remember, it ran in both directions.

I caught the Nottingham-Glasgow sleeper sometime mid-week back in 1974 - well, the seated portion. The sleeping cars were ready in the bay which faces Lincoln, the passenger train arrived from Leicester, not sure if it had started at StPancras, the loco was detached, backed onto the sleeping car and shunted it onto the passenger coaches which then reversed direction and headed off to Glasgow, via the S&C and GSWR as already mentioned. I know I was able to stretch out in a seating compartment to myself so I don't think there can have been many passengers
Had it already been cut back to Nottingham by 1974?

I must have caught it one night from Derby in 1973, autumn. I got a berth as I was on duty, going to Carlisle. I think it was still from Euston in that TT.

I also caught the train from Luton in the 60s, and several times in the summer of 68 when I could grab some sleep on a NW Rover ticket by taking the up train from Carlisle (dep approx 00.15 or so) to Skipton, bale out and wait 45 minutes or so till the down train took me back to Citadel, arr 05.45 ish. I think I always got a compartment to lay down in.
A couple of nights doing that and I was pretty groggy during the day, mind :)

I wonder if it was curtailed at the same time the "Thames-Clyde" was similarly cut-back to run Glasgow-Nottingham?
If it was cut back in the 74 summer TT (as implied above), I think the TC was stll running then as a through train from St Pancras. But it was the same principle, of course - pruning 'odd' services to produce a more standardised timetable.
 
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70014IronDuke

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Barrow is an interesting one, ....
IIRC, the train split/Joined at Preston. Front portion to Barrow, rear portion either stayed at Preston, or possibly went forward to Blackpool. But by 68, I think the sleepers stayed in Preston station.
I caught it once in 68, and, as Lucan states, it got into Barrow at some awful hour - before six, I think. I went straight on up the Cumbrian coast.
But - also as Lucan implies - it must have been v useful business folk needing to go to Vickers. I can imagine that they were the principal users of the service, in fact. Get in for a morning meeting, and then catch a Euston train back. I think there was one round about 14.00 from Barrow, combined at Preston with a Blackpool portion - arr Euston 18.00-ish. Not a bad service really, and much better than driving from London.
 

Highlandspring

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Wow, I never knew about that one! That's even more marginal and bizarre than the Glasgow/Edinburgh - Inverness service. Any photos of it anywhere?
There’s at least one photo online somewhere of the return trip at Perth - i.e the Mk3 SLEP coupled to the rear of a push pull set behind the loco.
 

mailbyrail

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The cut back of the sleeper to start from Nottingham must have been made with the May 1974 timetable - I left Nottingham that summer so it had to be before the middle of June '74.
 

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