M50447/M50531

This set is our spare set, in poor condition, and sadly does not feature in any current plans. It is a product of reality overtaking our efforts to restore vehicles to passenger service. The two vehicles worked together as set CH610 at the end of 104 operations in the North West, being withdrawn in 1990 at Chester. It was then split up with 50447 moving to the Llangollen Railway to support the other set based there, and 50531 being partnered with 50479 at the Cambrian Railway Oswestry. Following several moves and changes in management, 50479/50531 were later separated, leaving 50531 surplus once again.

Both vehicles are currently in storage in separate locations, with little prospect of any reprieve.

50447

OVERVIEW

50447, built in September 1957, 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. 50447 is fitted with two standard Leyland 680 horizontal diesel engines providing 300hp. Standard British United Traction (BUT) transmissions and control systems enable 50437 to operate in multiple with any vehicles that carry the “Blue Square” DMU coupling code, which is the most common. 50447 was preserved by the group in 1993 but has never been used directly in the group's fleet. Upon preservation, it was one of three vehicles put onto long term loan to Llangollen Railcars Limited, a relationship we are pleased to say has been long and very beneficial for the three Class 104 vehicles involved.

Moving to the Llangollen Railway in 1994, 50447 was in poorer condition than duplicate DMBS 50454, so was used for spare parts and as Llangollen Railcars' workshop/messroom for many years. In 2011, the decision to restore 50447 to full working order was made and this progressed slowly until 2015 when the project was stopped and resources reallocated.

BR HISTORY

50447 (numbered M50447) entered service in the North West, delivered to Crewe South depot in September 1957 with Trailer Composite Lavatory M59155 and Driving Motor Composite Lavatory M50499 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 50447 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 50447 was allocated to Crewe South, Stoke-on-Trent, Monument Lane, Derby and Newton Heath.  Around 1960, the short lived light green livery that 50447 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 50447 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 50447 being

renumbered M53447 in May 1983. By 1988, 50447 was running in a two car "power twin" formation from Newton Heath in set N667, but was reformed the following year upon transfer to Chester with DMCL 50531 (now also preserved) as set CH610. On the 4th May 1990, CH610 became the very last Class 104 to carry passengers along the Manchester-Buxton branch, the line that Class 104's were most associated with, when the set operated the 16:07 Manchester to Buxton and 17:08 Buxton to Bolton services. The early 1990's Class 104 vehicles were transferred for future use in the London area, however 50447 was not one of them, and it saw the end its days running from Chester, being taken out of service in March 1992.

GALLERY - WORKING ON THE MAINLINE

GALLERY - PRE-RESTORATION

RESTORATION

50447 received limited restoration work between 2011 and 2015, which helped preserve its condition and made any future restoration an easier task.

50531

50531, built in March 1958, 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. 50531 is fitted with two standard Leyland 680 horizontal diesel engines providing 300hp. Standard British United Traction (BUT) transmissions and control systems enable 50531 to operate in multiple with any vehicles that carry the “Blue Square” DMU coupling code, which is the most common.

50531 was preserved by the group in 1993 and was originally destined to be broken up to provide spare parts for the developing Class 104 fleets at the Llangollen and Churnet Valley Railways. However an offer by a private individual to maintain and restore the vehicle resulted in 50531 being partnered with 50479 and returned to working order at the Cambrian Railway (Oswestry), moving shortly afterwards to the Telford Steam Railway in 1999.


Between 1999 and 2004, 50531 operated on the short line at Telford with

50479, being withdrawn occationally for rolling restoration and repair work to be undertaken to keep the vehicle in reasonable condition.

In 2004, new fire safety regulations caused the railway to withdraw 50531 from service, and as the original group which was set up to look after the vehicle has disbanded, the work to modify 50531 was never undertaken. 

From 2004 to approximately 2014, 50531 operated as hauled coaching stock on the railway. Whilst the original group which was set up to look after the vehicle has disbanded, 50531 remains on long term loan to the Telford Steam Railway but is currently stored out of service.

BR HISTORY

50531 (numbered M50531) entered service in the North West, delivered to Crewe South depot in March 1958 with Trailer Composite Lavatory M59187 and Driving Motor Brake Second M50479 as the last 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 50531 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 50531 was allocated to Crewe South, Toton, Derby and Newton Heath.

Around 1960, the short lived light green livery that 50531 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 50531 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 50531 being renumbered M53531 in May 1983.

The 1980’s were to see Class 104’s begin to fall into decline. By 1985, 50531 was running as a 2-car set with M53465 (in Blue livery. The set remained in the North West, despite many vehicles being transferred to places such as Scotland and London.

By 1989, 50531 was running in a two car "power twin" formation from Chester with DMBS M53447 (now also preserved) as set CH610. On the 4th May 1990, CH610 became the very last Class 104 to carry passengers along the Manchester-Buxton branch, the line that Class 104's were most associated with, when the set operated the 16:07 Manchester to Buxton and 17:08 Buxton to Bolton services.

The early 1990's Class 104 vehicles were transferred for future use in the London area, however 50531 was not one of them, and it saw the end its days running from Chester, being taken out of service in March 1992.

GALLERY - WORKING ON THE MAINLINE

RESTORATION

50531 has mainly received "rolling restoration" rather than a particularly long period out of service being rebuilt. The late 1990's saw initial work to return the vehicle to service at Oswestry, when the vehicle was also repainted, retaining BR Blue.

After moving to the Telford Steam Railway in 1999, the vehicle was refurbished with some bodywork repairs being undertaken on the exterior before seeing passenger service until 2004.

In 2009, the deterioration of the exterior was aided by a repaint into BR Green.

GALLERY - IN SERVICE