Saloon 45000: Stories & Characters

Royal/ Special Saloon 45000 – Famous Passengers and Stories

Over the last few years we have been researching the many VIP passengers who travelled on board Saloon 45000 during its 70 year career. The carriage was built as a luxury private vehicle for the Chairman of the London North Western Railway. It was like a mobile hotel with a lounge, two bedrooms, a bathroom, dining room and kitchen. As well as being used by Winston Churchill in wartime and peacetime, it was extensively used by Royalty as a simpler alternative to the full Royal train. Read on for more stories about the many characters who have travelled in this historic carriage…


Inside the lounge of the railway carriage Saloon 45000.

Saloon 45000: A Potted History

Built in 1920 – used for 70 years by passengers including Royalty and Winston Churchill – saved from ruin – a star appearance at Goodwood Festival of Speed! For a whistle-stop tour through the history of the Saloon click here

Explore the list below to find out more about some of the events and characters Saloon 45000 has connections to:

Railway carriage Saloon 45000 on display

Design, build, and changes: 1920 to 1939

The Saloon has a long and fascinating history and there is still plenty of research needed to unravel some of the mysteries.

Was the Saloon really built for the Chairman of the London & North Western Railway (Sir Gilbert Claughton)? He died in 1921, a year after it was built – did he actually have chance to use it?

A bedroom inside the Saloon 45000 railway carriage
  • When did Edward, Prince of Wales first use the Saloon?
  • How much of the Saloon you see today is how it was built in 1920? There have been many changes including removing bunk beds, and adding the bath and shower.

Click here to find out more about how and why the Saloon was built, and how it changed between 1920 and 1939.


HRH Edward, Prince of Wales

Edward, Prince of Wales: A Reluctant Train Traveller?

According to our information, the first Royal use of Saloon 45000 was in 1928 by H.R.H. Edward, Prince of Wales. However, research has shown that he was a rather reluctant train traveller! Click here to find out more about Edward’s connection to Saloon 45000.

Image: Imperial War Museum © IWM Q 67384

Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower talking next to a railway carriage during the Second World War

The War Years: Churchill’s Secret D-Day Train

On three days in June, 1944, the sleepy railway station of Droxford was the setting for a gathering of VIPs including the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The purpose was to make decisions about the planned D – Day landings on occupied France. Anecdotal evidence from the Royal Train department at Wolverton Works is that Saloon 45000 was probably one of the coaches in this historic train. As yet we have not been able to prove or disprove this, but the story is fascinating: Click here to explore this top secret episode!

Image: Imperial War Museum © IWM H 38458

Winston Churchill making a public speech

Churchill’s 1951 Election Campaign

In 1951 there was a general election in the UK. The Labour Party were in power, but their Leader – Clement Attlee – was looking to strengthen the slim majority he had won in the 1950 election. As Leader of the Conservatives, Churchill successfully campaigned to win the election and became Prime Minister again.

There was quite a contrast between the campaign travel arrangements for the two party leaders. Churchill generally travelled by train in considerable comfort, whereas Attlee, conscious of keeping spending under control, often travelled in his own car, with his wife Violet at the wheel. Churchill made at least seven significant journeys during the campaign, two of which used Saloon 45000 attached to a service train. Click here to find out more about this period in the Saloon’s history.

Image: Imperial War Museum © IWM HU 55965


The President of India Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

President of India’s Visit to Britain in 1963

Come with us back to 1963 – you have £230 to spend, a week to travel around Britain, and would prefer staying on a special train to stopping in hotels. By the way, you are the President of India! You have a considerable entourage of staff with you, and have particular requirements for sleeping and dressing in your mobile accommodation. Step forward Saloon 45000 – selected for this important role.

Click here to find out more about the President of India’s use of Saloon 45000.


Winston Churchill out in public

Sir Winston Churchill’s Funeral Train (1965)

During his life, Sir Winston Churchill made much use of train travel, including in our Special Saloon 45000. As part of his state funeral in January 1965, Churchill’s coffin was transferred to a special train at Waterloo station for the journey to Oxfordshire and his last resting place. The train was appropriately hauled by “Battle of Britain” locomotive no. 34051 “Winston Churchill”. Saloon 45000 was not involved in this event, but to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death, we put together this booklet describing how he once more made use of train travel for his final journey.

Image: Imperial War Museum © IWM H 25966

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