Railway carriage, London & North Western Railway, Queen Victoria's Saloon, built Wolverton Works, 1869.
Queen Victoria was the first British monarch to travel by train when she travelled on a Great Western Railway train from Slough to Paddington. After the journey, the Queen indicated that she had enjoyed the new experience.
In 1869, Queen Victoria commissioned two railway coaches, which were built at Wolverton Works by the London & North Western Railway and designed by Richard Bore.
This elaborate saloon was reputedly Queen Victoria’s favourite railway vehicle, having been built jointly at her and the LNWR’s expense, and was not replaced until after her death. Most of her long-distance journeys were over the London & North Western and Caledonian Railways, and the West Coast Route consequently developed an interest in the operation of the Royal Train.
This vehicle started life as two separate six-wheel vehicles connected by a flexible gangway, the first to be fitted to coaches in this country. Eventually the two bodies were remounted on a new, twelve-wheel bogie underframe, which gave better riding and overcame the Queen’s dislike of having to pass from one vehicle to the other while it was in motion.
On the lower exterior panels are painted the Royal Arms, and the badges of the Orders of the Bath, the Thistle, the Garter, and St Patrick. The interior is lavishly furnished with material all chosen by the Queen herself. The vehicle contains the Queen’s day and night compartments, toilet facilities and accommodation for her ladies-in-waiting and personal servant. The second bed in the Queen’s sleeping apartment was usually occupied by one of the royal princesses, it being regarded as a considerably privilege to travel with Her Majesty.
The Queen refused to accept the fitting of gas lamps and, even though electric lights were eventually fitted at a later date, the oil lamps and candle holders were retained at the Queen’s request.