Q18.11 – Royal Journeys to Sandringham

Query Corner – top page

Q18.11. Royal Journeys to Sandringham.
The Royal Family traditionally take a Christmas and New Year holiday at Sandringham, with a lot of train travel to get there and back. But the Royal Train vehicles based at Wolverton were not used, so the journeys do not feature in the National Railway Museum records recently referred to in A13.02, leading to three questions about these journeys:
When did HM the Queen first travel from Liverpool Street instead of Kings Cross?
When was the last Royal Train to use Wolferton station?
When were the East Coast Joint Stock saloons 395 and 396 used for the last time? (Mark Chaplin: 16826)

Do you mean use KX instead of Liverpool Street, since KX is now used? I imagine that HM the Queen has always used a through train and that this would therefore be when Lynn services ceased to be run regularly from Liverpool Street and moved to KX following completion of the Royston to Cambridge and Cambridge to Ely and Kings Lynn wirings. (Stuart Hicks)

Although not specific to the query, your correspondent may not be aware of the article published in Traction magazine of March 2005 titled ‘Great Eastern line Royal Trains in the 1960’s’ and my letter published in the May 2005 edition ‘ Working on ‘The Royal’. Where I had the experience of working on the Royal train from Liverpool Street to Kings Lynn in 1969 as the travelling fitter. David Flatman 17908

I have only just noticed the request for clarification from Stuart Hicks. I do mean a change from use of Kings Cross to use of Liverpool Street, and I think it occurred some time in the late 1950s. Liverpool Street is located in the City of London and Royal Protocols have to be observed when the Monarch enters the City. In GER days these were avoided by travelling to and from Sandringham via St Pancras, and in LNER days by going via Kings Cross. Use of Kings Cross continued into the 1950s, but by the 1960s Liverpool Street was being used, and I want to pinpoint when the change took place. Once I have a date then I can try to find out what changed to allow Liverpool Street to be used. I didn’t include any of this in the original question because it would have been too long winded. The change back from Liverpool Street to Kings Cross is an interesting question, but not what I was asking! I suspect that there was a gap when trains were not used at all. I don’t know when use of Liverpool Street ended but it is probably 1988 at the latest, the last Christmas with an all day through service between Liverpool Street and Kings Lynn. I do know that Her Majesty travelled by class 365 from Kings Cross in 2009 but that may not be the earliest instance. So the gap could be up to 20 years long. regards Mark

I am now able to answer my own questions using research conducted in recent


  • Liverpool Street was first used for departure of Royal Journeys to Sandringham on 22nd December 1958.

The Eastern Daily Press on 23rd December 1958 reported “for the first time at

Christmas they have dispensed with the Royal “Special” and had travelled in

carriages attached to the normal service train from London. This section, comprising

three coaches, had been detached at King’s Lynn and continued on its own to

Wolferton”. Pathe News footage shows the train to be the 2.24pm departure at

Liverpool Street. The return journey was in coaches attached to the 11.6 am King’s

Lynn to Liverpool Street on 2nd February 1959. A year earlier, on 21st December

1957, departure had been by special train from Kings Cross, with the return on 27th

January 1958 going to Windsor via Oxford.

Wolferton was last used for arrival at Sandringham on 29th December 1965 and

departure on 27th January 1966. Both of these were special trains not saloons

attached to timetabled services. I am particularly keen to identify the locomotives

used on these two occasions, likely to be pairs of Brush Type 2s between Liverpool

Street and Kings Lynn, and single Brush Type 2s between Kings Lynn and Wolferton.

The last known use of saloons 395 and 396 together is from Liverpool Street to

Kings Lynn on 28th December 1972, though it is not known whether both were also

used at the end of that winter’s Sandringham holiday on 5th February 1973. Shortly

after that, the East Coast Royal Vehicles were transferred from Bounds Green to

Wolverton, see Railway Observer April 1973 page 125.

After transfer to Wolverton 395 appears to have been unused, but 396 continued to

be used on State Visit trains from Gatwick Airport to Victoria and the Derby Day train

from Victoria to Tattenham Corner, plus a few other daytime workings. These include

to Ely on 23rd November 1973, to Peterborough for the Maundy Service on 27th

March 1975, to Bedford on 11th May 1976, and to Wolverton, to review progress on

the new Royal Train, on 17th December 1976. But I have not found any evidence of

395 or 396 being used on trains between Liverpool Street and Kings Lynn after they

were transferred away from Bounds Green. The last use of 396 is thought to be on

Derby Day 1st June 1977. Mark Chaplin (16826)