Kearsley/Heysham Electric Locomotives

It is an interesting, though these days often forgotten fact, that industrial users were among the pioneers of electric traction in the UK with some industrial electric locomotives predating those designed for the national network [1]. Coal mines and power stations were the most typical users of these early electric locomotives including Kearsley Power Station which had this fleet of four electric locomotives built over an extended period as dictated by demand. The Kearsley locomotives operated off 500v DC overhead supply [2] and were owned by the Lancashire Electric Power Company [3].

Number built: 4
Built: 1928, 1936, 1944, 1946
Builder: Hawthorn & Leslie / Robert Stevenson & Hawthorn
Motor: 4 BTH traction motors (500v DC OHLE / battery)
Power: (First 2) 180 hp (134 kW)
(Last 2) 260 hp (193 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

Following the closure of Kearsley Power Station in 1982 two locomotives were converted to battery operation [4] (with the pantograph removed and batteries fitted in the cab) and worked at Heysham Nuclear Power Station until 2009. Three of the four (locomotives 1 to 3 in fact) locomotives have been preserved.
Heysham Electric Locomotive 1

Kearsley Electric Locomotive 1

Another view of Heysham No. 1, both locos at the Electric Railway Museum

[1] R.L. Vickers, DC Electric Locomotives in the British Isles (David & Charles, 1986) p. 95
[2] Electric Railway Museum - Full Stocklist <>
[3] Michael Poulter, Industrial Railways in Colour (North West) (Irwell Press, 2009) p. 51
[4] Industrial Locomotives Handbook 13EL (Industrial Railway Society, 2003) p. 114

Class 309

The Class 309 was built for Great Eastern AC electric routes out of Liverpool Street to Clacton and Walton. Based on the Mark 1 coach design they had a high performance being intended for express passenger duties and were the first BR EMUs (officially) capable of reaching 100mp/h [1].

As built the 309s were in 2 and 4 car sets though the 2-car 309/1s were strengthened in the 1980s to 4 car sets by the addition of loco-hauled Mark 1 stock [2]. Restaurant facilities (the griddle cars) were however removed at the same time from the 309/2s.

Number built: 76 cars (2 and 4 car sets)
Built: 1962-63
Builder: BR York, Wolverton
Engine: 4 GEC WT101 traction motors per unit (25kV AC OHLE)
Power: 1, 128 hp (841 kW)
Formation: (309/1) Driving Motor Brake Standard Corridore (DMBSK)+
Battery Driving Trailer Standard (BDTS) (later) Driving
Motor Brake Standard (DMBS)+Trailer Standard (TS)+
Trailer Composite (TC)+BDTS
(309/2) Battery Driving Trailer (BDTC)+Motor Brake Standard
Corridore (MBSK)+Trailer Restaurant Buffet (TRB)+
Driving Trailer Composite (DTC)
(309/3) BDTC+MBSK+Trailer Standard Open (TSO)+DTC (later)
BDTC+Motor Brake Standard (MBS)+TS+DTS

In the privatisation era some units moved to the North West where they continued in service around Manchester but these were withdrawn in 2000. A couple of units were converted to departmental use testing cab-signalling as the Class 960/1. These were preserved in 2009.
309 616 in "Jaffa Cake" London & South East Sector livery

960 102 at the Electric Railway Museum
Front view of 309 616

[1] Alec Swain, Overhead Line Electric Multiple-Units (Ian Allan, 1990) p. 48
[2] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 227

Class 27

The Class 27 was a development and follow-on class of Type 2 diesel-electrics from the pilot-scheme Class 26 (which ironically outlasted the 27s). Compared to the earlier locos the Class 27s had a slightly uprated engine, different electrical equipment and an increased top speed [1]. Originally the Class 27s were allocated to Southern England and Scotland but later the locomotives were concentrated in Scotland.

Number built: 69
Built: 1961-62
Builder: Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company
Engine: Sulzer 6LDA28B diesel
Power: 1, 250 hp (932 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

The original locomotives were the 27/0, two sub-classes were later modified for express services in Scotland. Some locomotives were modified for push-pull operations as the 27/1 and some with electric train heat as the 27/2. One of each top and tailed Edinburgh-Glasgow expresses in the 1970s[2] however their reliability suffered on these duties, a number of 27/2s catching fire. By the end of the decade they had been replaced by Class 47/7s[3]. The Class 27s were gradually withdrawn throughout the 1980s with the final withdrawals in 1987 however 8 have been preserved.
D5410 at Kidderminster

[1] Brian Haresnape, Production Diesel-Electrics Types 1-3 (Ian Allan, 1983) p. 40
[2] Chris Heaps, BR Diary 1968-1977 (Ian Allan, 1988) p. 45
[3] John Glover, BR Diary 1978-1985 (Ian Allan, 1985) p. 27

Class 503

The Class 503 was a third rail DC (650v) EMU used on the Wirral and Mersey lines. The class was built in 2 batches, the first 19 3-car sets built in 1938 for the LMS and a near identical second batch of 24 sets for British Railways in 1956-7 [1]. The Class 503s were advanced for their day with air-operated sliding doors and a high power to weight ratio thanks to the construction methods used which employed light alloys and avoided heavy frames [2].

Number built: 129 cars (43 3-car sets)
Built: 1938, 1956-7
Builder: Metro-Cammell / Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company
Engine: 4 BTH traction motors (750v DC third rail)
Power: 540 hp (403 kW)
Formation: (Original) Driving Motor Brake Standard (DMBS)+
Trailer Composite (TC)+Driving Trailer Standard (DTS)
(Modified) DMBS+Trailer Standard (TS)+DTS

In the 1970s the stock was modified to have central end doors to comply with Department of Transport regulations for stock which operates in single track tunnels (to allow for the exiting of passengers in an emergency if the side doors cannot be used) [3]. They also had their first class provision removed to become fully standard class.

After a long career the Class 503 was finally withdrawn in 1985 when they were replaced by the 507s and 508s though one set was preserved and kept for special services until 1988. The preserved set is now at the Electric Railway Museum and was from the 1938 Stock batch, it is one of only two pre-war EMUs still in existence in it's original condition.
DMBS 28690 at the Electric Railway Museum

The preserved set wears LMS maroon livery

[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p, 381
[2] R.L. Vickers, EC Electric Trains and Locomotives in the British Isles (David & Charles, 1986) p. 74
[3] Brian Haresnape & Alec Swain, Third Rail DC Electric Multiple Units (Ian Allan, 1989) p. 28

Class 201/202/203 (Hastings DEMUs)

The Class 201 (also known by its SR Alpha code as 6S) diesel-electric multiple units were built for the modernisation of the London to Hastings route allowing the replacement of steam. Narrow tunnels and the resulting reduced clearance meant the line was not electrified like much of the rest of the Southern Region and special units with a narrower body were needed [1] - being 2.74m wide, a contemporary "normal" DMU like the Class 101 was 2.82m wide.

The Class 201s were similar in style and in many ways technically to the large Southern fleet of EMUs but power to the traction motors was provided from the 2 diesels instead of from a third rail! Unlike the DMU fleet elsewhere the Class 201 and other early Southern Region DEMUs has a single large engine mounted above the floor per power car instead of smaller motors mounted below, and electric instead of mechanical (or hydraulic) transmission [2].

Number built: (201/6S) 42 cars (in 7 6-car sets)
(202/6L) 54 cars (in 9 6-car sets)
(203/6B) 42 cars (in 7 6-car sets)
Built: 1957
Builder: BR Eastleigh
Engine: English Electric 4SRKT diesel per DMBS
Power: 1, 000 hp (746 kW)
Formation: (201-202) Driving Motor Brake Standard (DMBS)+Trailer Standard (TS)+
Trailer Composite (TC)+TS+TS+DMBS
(203) DMBS+TS+TC+Trailer Restaurant Buffet (TRB)+TS+DMBS

The 7 6-car Class 201 sets were later supplemented by the similar Class 202 (6L) and 203 (6B) which used full-length carriages (the 201s were shorter than normal coaching stock) and the 203 included a buffet [3] though these were later withdrawn reducing the 203s to 5 car sets [4]. The units made the Hastings route their own for the next 30 years and could also be found on other Southern routes. Some 201 units were disbanded in the 1960s to form part of the Class 206 "Tadpole" DEMUs which unusually mixed the narrow profile Hastings units with normal profile stock from elsewhere [5].

The Hastings route was finally electrified in 1986 and most of the 201/2/3 fleet was withdrawn though a small number remained in service on other routes in the early 1990s. One complete set of the Class 201 has been preserved and is mainline certified. A number of other cars have also been preserved. One of the buffet cars from the Class 203 was rebuilt in the late 1960s to help develop tilting and active suspension technology for the APT and known as QXA RDB975386 Laboratory 4 [6].
Preserved set 1001 at Leamington Spa

Preserved set 1001 at Leamington Spa

Former 203 buffet now Laboratory 4 preserved at the Electric Railway Museum
[1] Colin J. Marsden (ed.), Modern Locomotives Illustrated No. 218 April-May 2016 (Southern Region DEMUs and Class 210) p. 4
[2] Brian Haresnape, Diesel Multiple Units: The Second Generation and DEMUs (Ian Allan, 1986) p. 6
[3] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 96
[4] Gavin Morrison, British Railway DMUs in Colour (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 21
[5] Haresnape p. 26
[6] Colin J. Marsden, Departmental Stock (Ian Allan, 1984) p. 30

Class 483

As explained in the entry on the Class 485 the need to "modernise" the Isle of Wight offshoot of the British Rail network in the late 1960s and the clearance difficulties caused by Ryde tunnel meant that ex-London Underground tube stock had to be used in a modified form. By the 1980s however the 485s and Class 486s were life expired but their replacements turned out to be also ex-Tube stock! The Class 483s were rebuilt 1938 stock and thus while also elderly were somewhat newer than their early 1920s vintage forerunners! The ex-LU stock, which comprised a mixture of ex-revenue service stock and departmental vehicles, was used to create 2-car trains (the 1938 stock being 4-car) as Ryde Depot had difficulty handling longer trains [1].

Number built: 20 cars (2-car units)
Built: 1939-40
(Rebuilt as 483s) 1989
Builder: Metro-Cammell
(Rebuilds) BR Eastleigh
Engine: 4 Crompton Parkinson / GEC / BTH LT100 traction motors
(630v DC third rail - originally LU fourth rail)
Power: 670 hp (500 kW)
Formation: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO)+DMSO

The stock was refurbished and modified for Island Line use which included changing from fourth rail to third rail operation. All exposed steel surfaces were also treated to protect against salt erosion [2] (the Island Line partly runs over the sea when it operates up Ryde Pier, corrosion have proven to have been a problem with the earlier stock). Twenty vehicles were used in the 483 programme though only 18 were used for passenger service, the others being used for spares. Since their introduction a number of vehicles have been withdrawn and some scrapped so now the fleet has been reduced to 5 operational trains though this is sufficient for the Island Line schedule.

As "new" the Class 483s wore Network South East livery followed by "dinosaur" livery post-privatisation (the Island Line being part of the South West Trains franchise though treated as a separate entity) but currently wear a livery based on London Underground historic deep red [3]. There are currently no plans with withdraw the 483s though their future is uncertain as they are now approaching 80 years old. Original plans to use Piccadilly Line 1973 Stock as a third generation EMU on the line has been put into doubt by the delay in replacing the 1973 Stock until the mid-2020s. 1983 Stock was also offered in the past but turned down as it was considered "too digital".

A recent report has suggested replacing the Island Line with a light rail system based on former Midland Metro T69 vehicles [4], whatever happens to the railway on the Isle of Wight the tradition of "second hand" will likely continue.
483 004 at Ryde St John's Road

Ryde Depot

483 004 returns to dry land after travelling along Ryde Pier

[1] Brian Hardy, Tube Trains on the Isle of Wight (Capital Transport, 2003) p. 62
[2] Hardy p. 63
[3] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 367
[4] "Trams for the Isle of Wight?", Railways Illustrated (April 2016)