Engineering Drawings of the Pullman Car Company

Scope and Content

2441 engineering drawings in 101 rolls, related to the construction and maintenance of Pullman carriages. The drawings are mainly on paper or linen.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Pullman Company Ltd was formed in Britain in 1882, based on the Pullman concept of luxury rail travel in the United States and established under US licence and control. The idea of the Pullman car had already been introduced to the UK by the Midland Railway, with a specially chartered train taking a party of people on a tour of England and Scotland in 1876. The Midland railway imported 37 cars and erected them at their Derby Works. They ran them on contract until 1888. Other railway companies also experimented with Pullman services, but gradually developed their own improved rolling stock and ceased their contracts with Pullman.

In 1905 the business was transferred to UK control under the chairmanship of Lord Dalziel, and in 1915 was re-founded as the Pullman Car Company Limited. Following the formation of the UK based company production of coaching stock was gradually moved to the UK. A small number of vehicles were manufactured by the Pullman Car Company’s own workshops at Preston Park in Brighton. The majority were built by private manufacturers such as the Birmingham Carriage and Wagon Company, Cravens of Sheffield, the Clayton Wagon Company of Lincoln, the Midland Carriage and Wagon Company and the Metropolitan Carriage and Wagon Company (later Metropolitan-Cammell). The last Pullman cars were made by the British Rail works at Derby in the 1960s. Preston Park operated primarily as a maintenance and repair shop. The drawings in the collection reflect the multiplicity of sources from which carriages originated.

The central location in Brighton was useful as it was the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway that enthusiastically embraced the luxury Pullman concept, with its first complete train of Pullman carriages in 1881. But the concept was quickly adopted by other railway companies and became synonymous with luxury rail travel, both in the UK and abroad, especially during the 1930s. Pullman services were suspended during the Second World War, but revived in the 1940s and taken over by the newly nationalised British Railways.

By the 1950s much of the rolling stock was becoming out of date. The Pullman Car Company itself was experiencing business difficulties. In line with modernisation plans, the British Transport Commission (BTC) bought out the Pullman Car Company in 1954, despite parliamentary protests. The Pullman Car Company continued to operate as a virtually separate company, despite being wholly owned by the BTC. New Pullman carriages were developed for the mainline routes and diesel multiple units (known as the Blue Pullmans) were designed for the Midland and Western main lines, similar to the then existing electric service from London to Brighton. The multiple units began to be withdrawn from the 1970s, but other locomotive hauled services continued until the 1990s.

The works at Preston Park, from whence it is assumed that the specific drawings in this collection originated, was closed down in 1963 and all work transferred to BR’s own workshops as part of rationalisation. In 1967 the separate Pullman Division of British Rail was broken up and operations transferred to the various Regions.


The original order of the collection has been lost. The drawings have therefore been listed as boxed.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is given in accordance with the NRM access policy. Material from this archive is available to researchers through the Search Engine facility. The collection is fully open to researchers. Where items from this archive have been microfilmed, access is gained through the microfilm surrogate.

Opening times:

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Contact details:

Address: Search Engine, National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ. Email:

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Acquisition Information

The drawings were transferred to the National Railway Museum in 1975 from the British Transport Museum, Clapham as part of a large collection of engineering drawings from a variety of companies and engineering works.

Other Finding Aids

A list of this collection has been prepared in MS Access and a PDF copy is made available for researchers in Search Engine.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The drawings are largely copy tracings on paper or linen. There are some drawings in pencil on cartridge paper and tracing paper and occasionally other copying processes, such as ozalid on plastic film, are evident.

Archivist's Note

The inventory listing was created by Ian Watson, volunteer at the National Railway Museum, and the accompanying catalogue and administrative history was prepared by Martin Bashforth, Assistant Archivist, NRM, March 2010.

Description created by Jane Ronson (Archives Hub team) using the Archives Hub EAD Editor, May 2015.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied of items in the archive, provided that the copying process used does not damage the item or is not detrimental to its preservation. Copies will be supplied in accordance with the NRM’s terms and conditions for the supply and reproduction of copies, and the provisions of any relevant copyright and data protection legislation.

Appraisal Information

No appraisal of this collection has been undertaken.


No accruals are expected.

Related Material

Related units of description at the National Railway Museum, listed by reference number:

1993-101: Photocopy typescript of ‘The Pullman Car Story, 1853-1978’ by Mr EH Woollard, 1978.

1994-7151: Photograph album – Pullman Cars built for the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits by the Leeds Forge Company, Leeds, c 1926.

1994-7152: Miscellaneous items and papers of EJ Morris, former Company Secretary, Pullman Car Company, Brighton.

1995-7019: Collection of 10 copy drawings of carriages built by the Pullman Car Company, USA, for the Midland Railway c 1894-1914.

1995-7022: Papers of Mr Burnley reference timings of the Pullman train, ‘Queen of Scots’ c 1934-35.

1998-11271: Collection of photographs produced by LMS and BR (LMR) Derby Works 1935-1966, including some images of Pullman Cars.

2005-7743: Dyeline copy plan of the Pullman Car Company’s Preston Park Shops, Brighton c 1955.

2005-7744: File of lists of the Pullman fleet as collated by Mr TC Harding, c 1956-1966.

1975-7028: Pullman Car Company First Class Parlour Car, ‘Topaz’.

1987-7009: Pullman, 1st Class Kitchen Car, ‘Eagle’ no 311, built by Metropolitan Carriage Company, c 1960.

1987-7010: Pullman, 1st Class Parlour Car, ‘Emerald’, No 326, built by Metropolitan Cammell, 1960.

2000-7121: Pullman, carriage section mock-up, late 19th century, created by Metropolitan Carriage and Wagon Company in association with the Pullman Car Company.

2004-7390: Photograph, inaugural trip ‘Torquay Pullman Limited’ at Paddington, 8 July 1929.

2004-8260: Photograph, Great Western Railway ‘Torquay Pullman’ at Twyford, 1929.

PHA 041: Photograph album, Pullman Tour of England and Scotland, 1876.


  • Don Carter: Pullman Craftsmen: Life in the Pullman Car Company’s Preston Park Works, Brighton, (Brighton, Queenspark Books, c 1992)
  • RW Kidner: Pullman Trains in Britain, (Usk, Monmouth, Oakwood Publications c 1998)
  • RW Kidner: Pullman Cars on the ‘Southern’, 1875-1972, (Headington Oxford, Oakwood Publications c 1987)
  • Julian Morel: Pullman: The Pullman Car Company – its services, cars and traditions, (Newton Abbot, David & Charles, c 1983)
  • EJ Morris: Pullman Pride: Photographs from the Archive of EJ Morris, Company Secretary of the Pullman Car Company, (Southampton, Noodle Books, 2007)