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The Northern Belle

Client: Orient Express Hotels Trains and Cruises

Project: Northern Belle

Launch: May 2000


The Northern Belle is a celebration of British heritage and craftsmanship that captures the luxury of the great Belle trains of the 1930s. It combines the visual delights of modern elegance and glamour with the leisurely experience of Britain’s scenic rail routes. Each carriage bears the name of a stately home or castle – Chatsworth, Belvoir, Harlech, Glamis, Warwick and Alnwick - and is furnished with specially-commissioned designs, fabric and marquetry. The train comprises six dining carriages, with a maximum capacity of 252 passengers. Each carriage seats 42 guests and contains tables of two and four, with plenty of room for guests to move around and enjoy the train’s sociable atmosphere.

The challenge was to create six individually styled dining carriages, each to seat 252 passengers, to reflect the luxurious “Belle” trains of the 1930’s within relatively contemporary Mark II former BR rolling stock, using traditional materials and details while complying with current safety and engineering requirements. Each carriage was gutted and rebuilt under JPA’s supervision before the hand crafted interiors were installed using veneered panelling, leathers, wool carpets and moquette upholstery. The brass light fittings were produced using original moulds. Hand crafted, unique marquetry panels based on designs by JPA reflect the stately homes and castles that the carriages are named after. JPA also designed the traditionally inspired livery, including alterations to the carriage doors.