Master Cutler (train)

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Master Cutler
Service typePassenger train
First service6 October 1947
Current operator(s)East Midlands Railway
Former operator(s)Midland Mainline
British Rail
London & North Eastern Railway
EndLondon St Pancras
Average journey time2 hours
Service frequencyWeekdays
Train number(s)1C20
Line(s) usedMidland Main Line
Rolling stockClass 222
Operating speed125 mph

The Master Cutler is a British named express passenger train operated by East Midlands Railway between Sheffield and London St Pancras. It has a somewhat complicated history, with the route and composition changing several times.


In 1947 at a meeting of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire Ronald Matthews, a former holder of the office of Master Cutler and Chairman of the London and North Eastern Railway suggested that the 7.40 train from Sheffield Victoria to London Marylebone, returning at 18.15, should be named The Master Cutler. This was agreed by both the Company of Cutlers and the LNER. The then Master Cutler, A Balfour, later the 2nd Lord Riverdale, rode on the footplate of the inaugural train. It has since been a tradition that the Master Cutler ride with the driver of the train during their year of office.[1] The Master Cutler was introduced by the LNER on 6 October 1947, running on the Great Central Main Line route from Sheffield Victoria to London Marylebone calling at Nottingham Victoria and Leicester Central.[2][3] Upon nationalisation the following year, the service became the responsibility of the Eastern Region of British Railways. Known to staff simply as "The Cutler", the train carried a restaurant car and was generally hauled by a Gresley A3 Pacific.[3]

In 1958, passenger services on the former Great Central route were beginning to be run down, and on 15 September of that year the title of the train switched to a new Class 40 diesel hauled service from Sheffield Victoria to London King's Cross calling at Retford only via East Coast Main Line.[4][5]

On 28 September 1960, Pullman carriage stock was introduced.[6][7] However, in early 1966 British Railways decided to concentrate Sheffield traffic on the Midland Main Line route to London St Pancras (and Leeds traffic on King's Cross), so the Pullman coaches were withdrawn on 15 April 1966, and the train reverted to normal carriages.

From 7 October 1968 the Master Cutler title was moved over to a fast train running to London St Pancras via the Midland line.[8] It was later de-named, but the name was revived by InterCity in May 1987, for a daily train operated by InterCity 125 High Speed Trains.

As part of the timetable changes on 14 December 2008, East Midlands Trains reverted the service to its post-1968 historic route, and it now operates from Sheffield to London St Pancras, via Chesterfield, Derby and Leicester, not starting from Leeds.[9] Another change came with the use of a seven carriage Class 222 Meridian train to run the service instead of an InterCity 125 train that had operated it for the previous 21 years.

The substantial reduction in the number of first-class seats caused by this change of train has led to noticeable overcrowding. In response East Midlands Trains has actively sought to persuade business travelers to consider the other two named trains between Sheffield and London,[10] the South Yorkshireman and the Sheffield Continental.

Current service[edit]

As at November 2019, the Master Cutler name is carried by the 07:25 departure from Sheffield and 17:02 departure from London St Pancras. This is identified by the 'M' in the notes at the top of the timetable for these particular services.[11]

In preservation[edit]

The preserved Great Central Railway also runs re-enactments of the train on certain days using a rake of "Blood and Custard" Mark 1s. One of their locomotives used to work on the original trains during the 1950s, jointly-owned BR standard class 5 73156; restored at Loughborough on the Great Central Railway in 2017, in the guise of 73084 Tintagel.[12]

One of the train's headboards was presented to the Company of Cutlers by British Railways (Eastern Region) and Firth Vickers Stainless Steels Ltd on 21 April 1959, and another British Railways headboard is on display in the Great Hall at the National Railway Museum, York.[13][14]


Palitoy produced under the Mainline Railways brand a train set called the Master Cutler containing a model of BR Blue Class 45 number 45039 The Manchester Regiment, two BR Blue/Grey MK1 SKs and a BSK. This was later changed to a BR Blue Class 31 number 31401, two BR Blue/Grey MK2D FOs and two BR Blue/Grey MK2D BSOs.

Hornby has produced a set consisting of A3 locomotive Prince Palatine in early British Railways express passenger blue livery. The set also consists of three blood and custard Gresley coaches. A coach pack is also present for the set.

Graham Farish/Bachmann also introduced a Master Cutler train set, in N gauge consisting of an ex-LNER V2 and three blood and custard coaches, it is now discontinued.


Between 1997 and 2005, HST powercar 43076 carried The Master Cutler 1947 - 1997 nameplates.


  1. ^ "Company of Cutlers". Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Naming of LNER Master Cutler Express" Railway Gazette 10 October 1947 page 23
  3. ^ a b Mac Hawkins (1991). The Great Central then and now. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 10. ISBN 0-7153-9326-X.
  4. ^ "The Pullman Master Cutler" Railway Gazette 29 August 1958 page 234
  5. ^ "Inaugural Run of the Master Cutler" Railway Gazette 19 September 1958 page 379
  6. ^ "The Master Cutler" Railway Gazette 30 September 1960 page 382
  7. ^ "New Cars for East Coast Route Pullman Trains" Railway Gazette 30 September 1960 pages 397/398
  8. ^ "Sheffield services concentrated on St Pancras" Railway Gazette 16 August 1968 page 604
  9. ^ "Route1TableDec08" (PDF). East Midlands Trains. 14 December 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 January 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  10. ^ "East Midlands Trains recommend other trains". East Midlands Trains. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  11. ^ Timetable East Midlands Trains
  12. ^ Devereux, Nigel (21 September 2017). "BR Standard to make gala debut as scrapped sister". Heritage Railway. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Company of Cutlers". Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Headboard - The Master Cutler". Science Museum Group. Retrieved 8 May 2019.