Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Spirit of Chartwell - Thames riverboat, already an icon

Transport Charter supplies multi-modal passenger charter options.
Why is planning transport so often the last item on the planning agenda?  Is this why 'problems with transport' are generally top of the de-briefing agenda?

The Spirit of Chartwell is probably the most exciting riverboat launch in recent years, at a stroke raising the benchmark for London riverboats on the Thames.

Onboard similarities with luxury trains are both unavoidable and indeed sought;

"Combining the fact that on the Thames there is always something to be seen (quite unlike other rivers) and the space presented was more akin to a luxury train - the luxury train was the principal design referenced to be used throughout.
To this end and with the assistance of a French railway journalist, original 1928 Pullman Fleche d’Or and Cote d’Azure restaurant carriages (available for charter from Train Chartering) were located in a railway siding in the south of Paris and later in Normandy a treasure trove of original and iconic Pullman restaurant chairs. The ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ public spaces thus also come complete with marquetry motifs and lalique crystal panels whilst the external livery is resplendent in British Pullman colours of cream and umber, and State cabins though having a nautical feel are very much that of a top end London hotel. The vessel is designed for up to 38 passengers in over-night cruise mode and 100 guests for special occasions/events.

The central design reference for the public spaces on board ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ was the Rene Lalique 1929 Pullman railway carriage ‘Cote d’Azure’. Although some original pieces from this railway carriage can be found on board, this is supplemented by original fixtures and fittings from some of the great ocean liners as the Union Castle’s – Windsor Castle & Kenya Castle, the SS France and MS Sneafel. The vessel’s walls are adorned with original Lalique glass panels and especially commissioned marquetry.
1929 ‘Riviera’ Cote d’Azure armchairs.
Only 612 of these famous dining armchairs were ever made and only a small number still survive. Some 33 of these armchairs were sourced from derelict Wagon Lits railway carriages in Normandy, France and refurbished and reupholstered in Southampton and can now be found on board ‘Spirit of Chartwell’.

The Côte d'Azur Pullman Express was a French de luxe train which ran from 9 December 1929 until May 1939. The service was operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits and the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée (known as the PLM).
Dunn and Sons have produced marquetry panels for some of the world’s most famous trains and Ocean Liners including the Titanic, Lusitania. Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and carriages from the famed Wagon Lits company. On board the ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ two representations of their work can be found in lounge. 

Model Locomotives
There are two large working model locomotives in the lounge bought at auction in 1979 but thought to have been built in the 1950’s by ex- British Railway Locomotive drivers; tThe ‘Gladstone’ & the ‘Hussar’
Locomotive ‘Gladstone’.
It is one of Class D1 0-4-2 of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway, of which 125 were built by its engineer William Stroudley between 1873 and 1887 for suburban passenger trains.
Locomotive ‘Hussar’
No. 6154 of the LMS (London Midland and Scottish Railway) is one of a total of 71 express passenger 4-6-0 locomotives of the Royal Scot class (Royal Scot carriages make up a train available from Train Chartering)Bradshaw’s World’s First Railway Timetable
The first Bradshaw timetable is generally accepted as that which appeared on October 19th – 1839. Bradshaw was the undoubted source and inspiration for Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty days commemorated here as the name of the lounge deck.  An original is displayed in the lounge.
In the re-construction of the vessel and the thought processes that went into it, it is clear that the ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ turns out to be not just another cruise vessel - but rather, because there’s so much to see, more akin to a Pullman Fleche d’Or experience on the water, where suitably attired stewards attentively attend guests whilst all the while the scenery is brought effortlessly to their table.

No comments:

Post a Comment