After a meticulous restoration, Orient-Express’ luxurious Northern Belle train has welcomed a new carriage to the rake, taking the total number of carriages to seven. Duart, named after the Scottish castle on the Isle of Mull, is a testament to skilled British craftsmanship and will be officially launched in August.
Originally part of the Royal Household train in the 1960’s, Duart was purchased by Orient-Express in 1999 and began its transformation to become part of the Northern Belle rake in 2008. The carriage required a total refit and having been stripped back to its shell, a team of dedicated and skilled British craftsmen began the careful process of rebuilding the carriage to the renowned Orient-Express standard.
The marquetry was entrusted to Dunn & Son, a British family owned business, who have been creating marquetry since 1895, crafting the delicate artwork for the Titanic, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth cruise liners, as well as restoring the marquetry on the Northern Belle’s sister train, the British Pullman.
The marquetry design for Duart shows Duart Castle on a wood panel at each end of the carriage, with six other panels along the walls depicting an intricate pattern of flowers found on the Isle of Mull. Cheryl Dunn of Dunn & Son said “The background veneer is a rich, dark walnut burr, inlaid with pink heather and white flowers. I handmade each panel individually in exactly the same way as my great-grandfather crafted the original Pullman panels back in the 1920’s. It has taken literally hundreds of hours to complete.”
The ties with the carriage’s name-sake continue through the decoration scheme with thistle patterned curtains framing the windows and cushions made from tartan of the Maclean clan who have presided over Duart castle since 1367.
Duart joins the fleet of individually designed and historically named carriages of the Northern Belle; Alnwick, Belvoir, Chatsworth, Glamis, Harlech and Warwick, each named after the magnificent estates that inspired their design and have a link with the trains annual schedule.
With the demand ever increasing as people continue to discover the joys of leisurely rail travel, Duart is a welcome addition to the Northern Belle. The new carriage can accommodate 24 passengers, taking the total number of seats on board to 276, and will be located at the end of the rake, making it ideal for groups, parties and weddings who may wish to book the entire carriage.
Departing from over 60 regional stations across the UK throughout the year, the Northern Belle has a full schedule of day trips to historic cities, stately homes, prestigious sporting events and dedicated dining experiences all offering an escape from everyday life into the time of the Golden Age of Travel.