M50479/M50531

This often forgotten set in our collection is another example of a pair of vehicles which were put on long term loan immediately after being preserved in 1992. They were originally intended to be broken up for spare parts to ensure the future of other vehicles within the collection, however an offer from a private individual to undertake restoration work on them was taken up instead.

 

Originally preserved on the Cambrian Railway at Oswestry, the set was moved to the Telford Steam Railway after a short time where it was made operational and repainted into BR blue livery. It ran for four years before being withdrawn from service due to changing legislation concerning the use of halon fire extinguishing systems. 

Sadly this was to prove the start of a decline in the set's fortunes. Used as locomotive hauled coaching stock for a further 10 years, the vehicles' exterior condition declined significantly, despite being repainted in 2009 into BR Green livery in an attempt to smarten them up.

Eventually the set was stored altogether and now awaits a decision on its future.

50479

50479, built in March 1958, 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. 50479 is fitted with two standard Leyland 680 horizontal diesel engines providing 300hp. Standard British United Traction (BUT) transmissions and control systems enable 50479 to operate in multiple with any vehicles that carry the “Blue Square” DMU coupling code, which is the most common.

50479 was preserved by the group in 1992 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  50479 being partnered with 50531 and returned to working order at the Cambrian Railway (Oswestry), moving shortly afterwards to the Telford Steam Railway in 1999.


Between 1999 and 2004, 50479 operated on the short line at Telford with

50531, being withdrawn occationally for rolling restoration and repair work to be undertaken to keep the vehicle in reasonable condition.

 

From 2004 to approximately 2014, 50479 operated as hauled coaching stock on the railway, after 50531 was withdrawn. Whilst the original group which was set up to look after the vehicle has disbanded, 50479 remains on long term loan to the Telford Steam Railway but is currently stored out of service.

BR HISTORY

50479 (numbered M50479) entered service in the North West, delivered to Crewe South depot in March 1958 with Trailer Composite Lavatory M59187 and Driving Motor Composite Lavatory M50531 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 50479 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 50479 was allocated to Crewe South Toton, Derby and Newton Heath.

Around 1960, the short lived light green livery that 50479 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 50479 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 50479 being renumbered M53479 in February 1983.

The mid 1980’s were to see 50479 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 under-investment, 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 M53437 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, 53479 being reformed into set L707 with Class 119 51090. 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 awaiting disposal.

GALLERY - WORKING ON THE MAINLINE

RESTORATION

50479 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 into 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.

In 2001, the vehicle was withdrawn for 12 months and an interior refresh completed, including replacement of plywood interior panels.

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

GALLERY - IN SERVICE

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 1992 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