OVERVIEW & HISTORY
The BRCW Group currently own 13 Class 104 1950's diesel railcars and one support carriage of equal vintage, which are located at four heritage railways across the UK. Around half of the vehicles are under direct custodianship of the group , with the remaining half on long term loan agreements with other railcar groups or heritage railways.
The collection started in 1992 when two private individuals (later to become founding members of BRCW) successfully tendered for the purchase of 12 Class 104's from British Rail, with a 13th being purchased from Railtrack in 2000. It was quite a challenge finding homes for all of these vehicles, but eventually they settled down on the Churnet Valley, Llangollen and Telford Steam Railways. Several support carriages followed over the years for the storage of spare parts and by 2004 three sets (6 vehicles) had been restored and operated in passenger service.
Of note is support carriage W86500, which is a unique prototype Mark 1 "General Utility Van" saved by the group in 2009. It was fully restored and entered service in 2013, used in demonstration parcel trains and also being occasionally hauled by our railcars.
The fleet remained stable until 2014 when the vehicles located at the Churnet Valley Railway were disbanded, being moved to the East Lancashire Railway (our new headquarters) and North Norfolk Railway. We also sold the majority of the support carriages during this period.
Further unrest would follow five years later following the Telford Steam Railway's choice to end the loan agreement of the four vehicles based there.
From 1994 to the present day, at least one of the group's Class 104 sets has been in service every year. The set which has provided the most service is M50454/M50528, which has operated over 35,000 miles whilst on hire to the Llangollen Railway.
The group continues to have too many vehicles out of traffic, so our aim continues to be to restore more vehicles to service.