53437/M59137/M53494

Affectionately known as the "Buxton Set", it is formed from the three oldest vehicles in the collection and were the main reason for preserving the first 12 vehicles back in 1992. The first Class 104 sets were delivered to Buxton depot in the Spring of 1957 and were to have a lifelong association with the town and the route from there to Manchester. The characteristic 3-car sets with white cab roofs became a signature of the line and these were the sets that the founding members of the BRCW Group rode on as children. It was the desire to preserve an authentic 3-car Class 104 set formed of vehicles allocated to Buxton that led to the saving of what now forms the group's collection.

53437, 59137 & 53494 were all running in different Class 104 sets at their withdrawal in the early 1990's, however crucially they were all early production "Buxton thoroughbreds" and so form an authentic Buxton 3-car set. Initially preserved at the Churnet Valley Railway but later moved to the East Lancs Railway, the set was in poor condition when preserved and has never operated in preservation. It remains a long term restoration project to be undertaken when resources allow, however 59137 received extensive works between 2005 and 2011, and will be the first vehicle of the set to see service when its restoration can be completed.

53437

OVERVIEW

53437 is the earliest surviving Class 104 driving vehicle, having entered service in July 1957, demonstrated by the marker light located on the cab roof dome which was only fitted to the first 19 Class 104 sets. It is a Driving Motor Brake Second (DMBS) vehicle, weighing 31 tons and seating 54 passengers in two (second class) saloons. Two passenger vestibules separate the saloons with passengers exiting the vehicle through four exterior doors. Additional doors are located in the drivers cab and the guard’s compartment. 53437 is fitted with two standard Leyland 680 horizontal diesel engines providing 300hp. Standard British United Traction (BUT) transmissions and control systems enable it to operate in multiple with any vehicles that carry the “Blue Square” DMU coupling code, which is the most common. 53437 was preserved by the group in 1992 but has never operated in preservation and has been in storage since withdrawal from BR. After spending several years in temporary locations, the vehicle was moved to the Churnet Valley Railway in 1996 to await its turn for restoration while vehicles in better condition were attended to. In 2007, 53437 was put on static display during our Scenic Railcar Weekend gala as an example of an unrestored vehicle before being returned to store. 2016 saw the vehicle relocated to the East Lancashire Railway.

BR HISTORY

53437 (numbered M50437) entered service in the North West, delivered to Longsight depot in Manchester in July 1957 with Trailer Composite Lavatory M59145 and Driving Motor Composite Lavatory M50489 as part of a batch of 51 three car sets for British Railways’ London Midland Region. The area was at that time receiving a number of new DMU sets that were being delivered as a result of the 1955 “Modernisation Plan”. The Class 104 3-car sets proved versatile replacements for previously steam hauled secondary & branch line services in the area, and 50437 would have worked many of the routes around Manchester, particularly the Manchester-Buxton line, which was to have an association with the class for years to come. During the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's 50437 was allocated to Longsight, Crewe North, Buxton and Newton Heath. The earliest enthusiast record of 50437 in service was on a Sunday excursion working from Manchester to Newcastle on the 3rd November 1957 where the 3-car set listed above was paired with M50449/M59157/M50501 in a six coach formation. Around 1960, the short lived light green livery that 50437 was delivered in was replaced by the more conventional BR green that was to last much longer. In the late 1960's the vehicle lost its lined

green livery in favour of all over blue. During the 1970's 50437 went through a major overhaul, which included the removal of the original asbestos insulation and the two character route indicator box located on the front end. It is thought the work may have been completed at Swindon Works as 50437 was sighted there undergoing works on 26/10/77. The introduction of the TOPS classification system (in 1973) also resulted in 50437 being renumbered M53437 in February 1983. The mid 1980’s were to see 50437 transferred away from its North West home south to the London area, where it was operating the lines that had not been electrified. Working a poor area of the BR network during a time of underinvestment, added to the fact the vehicle was now thirty years old, took its toll and reliability of all the units left much to be desired. It was paired with M53479 running as set 701. In 1988, set 701 was selected for refurbishment at Doncaster works and was the first of four Class 104 sets so treated, emerging in the striking Network SouthEast livery and renumbered 53437 & 53479 (L701). The set continued to see use around London before being split up, 53437 being reformed into set L708 with other vehicles. During this time the vehicle was used mostly on the Gospel Oak-Barking route. Finally displaced by second generation DMU’s and with more thoroughly refurbished vehicles (such as Class 108’s) still available, 53437 was taken out of service on January 18th 1992 (officially withdrawn the following month) and stored with electrical faults awaiting disposal.

GALLERY - WORKING ON THE MAINLINE

GALLERY - PRE-RESTORATION

RESTORATION

53437 has not yet been restored and is currently awaiting finance and volunteer labour to become available. After moving to the Churnet Valley Railway, sister DMBS 50455 was known to be in better condition so was restored in favour of 53437. In 2004, with restoration work complete, original plans would have seen 53437 restored alongside 56182 to form a second operating 2-car set, but a request from the railway for a 3-car set resulted in 59137 being restored instead.

M59137

OVERVIEW

59137, built in May 1957, is the only surviving Class 104 Trailer Composite Lavatory (TCL) vehicle, weighing 24 tons and seating 12 first class and 54 second class passengers in three saloons. Three passenger vestibules separate the saloons with passengers exiting the vehicle through six exterior doors. 59137 is fitted with standard (BUT) control systems enabling it to operate in multiple with any vehicles that carry the “Blue Square” DMU coupling code, which is the most common. 59137 was preserved by the group in 1992, being stored at Chester until 1996 when it was moved to the Churnet Valley Railway and stored awaiting restoration.

Ten years in a sand quarry in a damp atmosphere meant the lower bodysides and steel framework beneath rotted beyond repair. Water leaks, some worse than others, caused the vehicle’s condition to spiral into decline, and it became bodily the worst of the four vehicles in the restoration queue. Between 2005 & 2011 the group worked hard on the vehicle's restoration until a lack of resources and several vandal/theft attacks forced the restoration to be halted. Since then, 59137 has remained in store awaiting resources for its restoration to be completed.

BR HISTORY

59137 (numbered M59137) entered service in the North West in May 1957 with Trailer Composite Lavatory M50429 and Driving Motor Composite Lavatory M50481 as part of a batch of 51 three car sets for British Railways’ London Midland Region. The area was at that time receiving a number of new DMU sets that were being delivered as a result of the 1955 “Modernisation Plan”. The Class 104 3-car sets proved versatile replacements for previously steam hauled secondary & branch line services in the area. M59137 was allocated to Buxton, a depot which was associated with Class 104's for all of their working lives. An early sighting of M59137 in its original formation was at Davenport Station on the 29th June 1957 in multiple with Class 111 set M50134 and M56090, noted by J. W. Sutherland. Around 1960, the short lived light green livery that M59137 was delivered in was replaced by the more conventional BR green that was to last much longer. M59137 continued to work the Buxton line throughout the 1960’s & 1970’s. During this time, British Railways’ policy resulted in the vehicle losing its lined green livery in favour of all over blue.During the 1970's M59137 went through a major overhaul, which included the removal of the original asbestos insulation. The late 1980’s were to see

the Class 104’s go into terminal decline as the vehicles approached 30 years of age. A BR vehicle disposal policy at the time, was that for every two replacement “Sprinter” vehicles delivered, three older vehicles had to be withdrawn. These instructions, along with faster passenger services timed for the new Sprinters, resulted in the decision to remove many of the centre trailer cars such as M59137 from 3-car sets, so that the faster “power-twin” sets could remain in service longer. The reason for M59137’s survival was an extended period of service between two Class 108 power cars (operating from Buxton, and later Chester as set CH375) which had already had their centre car culled. This additional use enabled the vehicle to survive till October 1989 before finally being condemned and stored at Chester.

GALLERY - WORKING ON THE MAINLINE

GALLERY - PRE-RESTORATION

RESTORATION

In 2005 the Churnet Valley Railway made a request for additional capacity for 50455/50517 which was suffering overcrowding on special events since entering traffic in 2004. It was thought that an, albeit badly corroded, unpowered centre car would be a faster solution than the restoration of another two vehicles, so M59137 moved up the restoration queue.

 

Six years of restoration followed until a lack of resources and several vandal/theft attacks forced the restoration to be halted. The vehicle is still awaiting its restoration to restart and the group are hopeful that this can happen within the next 12 months at the East Lancs Railway.

M53494

OVERVIEW

53494 is the earliest surviving Class 104 DMCL, having entered service in August 1957, demonstrated by the marker light located on the cab roof dome which was only fitted to the first 19 Class 104 sets. 53494 is a Driving Motor Composite Lavatory (DMCL) vehicle, weighing 31 tons and seating 12 first class and 54 second class passengers in three saloons. Two passenger vestibules separate the saloons with passengers exiting the vehicle through four exterior doors. Additional doors are located in the drivers cab. 53494 is fitted with two standard Leyland 680 horizontal diesel engines providing 300hp. Standard British United Traction (BUT) transmissions and control systems enable 53494 to operate in multiple with any vehicles that carry the “Blue Square” DMU coupling code, which is the most common. 53494 was preserved by the group in 1992 but has never operated in preservation and has been in storage since withdrawal from BR. After spending several years stored at Chester, the vehicle was moved to the Churnet Valley Railway in 1996 to await its turn for restoration while vehicles in better condition were attended to.

In 2007, 53494 was put on static display during our Scenic Railcar Weekend gala as an example of an unrestored vehicle before being

returned to store. 2016 saw the vehicle relocated to the East Lancashire Railway.

BR HISTORY

53494 (numbered M50494) entered service in the North West, delivered to Stoke-on-Trent depot in August 1957 with Trailer Composite Lavatory M59150 and Driving Motor Brake Second M50442 as part of a batch of 51 three car sets for British Railways’ London Midland Region. The area was at that time receiving a number of new DMU sets that were being delivered as a result of the 1955 “Modernisation Plan”. The Class 104 3-car sets proved versatile replacements for previously steam hauled secondary & branch line services in the area, and 50494 would have worked many of the routes around Manchester, particularly the Manchester-Buxton line, which was to have an association with the class for years to come. During the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's 50494 was allocated to Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe North, Longsight, Monument Lane, Derby, Newton Heath & Tyseley. 

Around 1960, the short lived light green livery that 50494 was delivered in was replaced by the more conventional BR green that was to last much longer. In the late 1960's the vehicle lost its lined green livery in favour of all over blue. During the 1970's 50494 went through a major overhaul, which included the removal of the original asbestos insulation and the two character route indicator box located on the front end. The introduction of 

the TOPS classification system in 1973 also resulted in 50494 being renumbered M53494 in July 1983. In summer 1988, 50494 was running in a two car "power twin" formation from Newton Heath in set N673 with 50468, transferred the following year to Chester as set CH613. Some Class 104 vehicles were transferred for future use in the London area, however 50494 was not one of them, and saw the end its days running from Chester, where it was taken out of service in June 1990 after running its final months in traffic with 50536.

GALLERY - WORKING ON THE MAINLINE

GALLERY - PRE-RESTORATION

RESTORATION

53494 has not yet been restored and is currently awaiting finance and volunteer labour to become available. After moving to the Churnet Valley Railway, sister DMCL 50517 was known to be in better condition so was restored in favour of 50494. In 2004, with restoration work complete, a request from the railway for a 3-car set resulted in 59137 being restored despite the vehicle being in inferior condition to 53494.