Pullman, George Mortimer

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b. 3 March 1831 Brocton, New York, USA
d. 19 October 1897 Chicago, Illinois, USA
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American inventor of the Pullman car.
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Pullman was initially a cabinet-maker in Albion, New York, and then became a road-works contractor in Chicago. Observing a need for improved sleeping accommodation on trains, he arranged in 1858 with the Chicago \& Alton Railroad to convert two of their coaches into sleeping cars by incorporating upper berths hinged to the sides of the car. These and a third car entered service in 1859 and were popular with passengers, but other railways were reluctant to adopt them.
Pullman moved to the Colorado mining area and kept a general store, but in 1863 he returned to Chicago. With Ben Field he spent a year building the car Pioneer, which not only incorporated the folding upper berths but also had seats arranged to convert into lower berths. When Pioneer entered service, the travelling public was enthusiastic: Pullman and Field built more cars, and an increasing number of railways arranged to operate them under contract. In 1867 Pullman and Field organized the Pullman Palace Car Company, which grew to have five car-building plants. Pullman introduced a combined sleeping/restaurant car in 1867 and the dining car in 1868.
In 1872 James Allport, General Manager of the Midland Railway in Britain, toured the USA and was impressed by Pullman cars. He arranged with Pullman for the American company to ship a series of Pullman cars to Britain in parts for Midland to assemble at its works at Derby. The first, a sleeping car, was completed early in 1874 and entered service on the Midland Railway. Several others followed the same year, including the first Pullman Parlor Car, a luxury coach for day rather than overnight use, to enter service in Europe. Pullman formed the Pullman Palace Car Company (Europe), and although the Midland Railway purchased the Pullman cars running on its system a few years later, Pullman cars were used on many other railways in Britain (notably the London Brighton \& South Coast Railway) and on the continent of Europe. In 1881 the Pullman Parlor Car Globe, running in Britain, became the first vehicle to be illuminated by electric light.
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Bibliography
1864. jointly with Field, US patent no. 42,182 (upper berth).
1865, jointly with Field, US patent no. 49,992 (the seat convertible into a lower berth).
Further Reading
Dictionary of American Biography
C.Hamilton Ellis, 1965, Railway Carriages in the British Isles, London: George Allen \& Unwin, Ch. 6 (describes the introduction of Pullman cars to Europe).
PJGR

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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