Southend Pier Railway Postwar Electric Stock

The Southend Pier Railway opened in 1890 and operated toast-rack style electric tram cars along it's length. After the pier and railway was re-opened following a period of closure during the Second World War passenger numbers greatly increased and the need was felt to replace the original cars with a more modern design. AC Cars of Thames Ditton were contracted to built four trains of seven cars each (in total twelve motor cars and sixteen trailers) for the 1,067mm gauge railway, each using design and technology similar to London Underground tube trains of the time including air operated sliding doors and rheostatic electric brakes [1]. The cars had four wheel trucks (made by Maley and Taunton [2]) with a 4.4m long wheelbase, somewhat long for four wheel vehicles though the pier railway lacked any tight curves and the long wheelbase aided stability.

Number built: 28 (4 7-car trains)
Built: 1949
Builder: AC Cars
Formation: Driving Motor (DM)+Trailer(T)+T+DM+T+T+DM

The new rolling stock proved reliable in service though passengers numbers gradually dropped during the 1950s and 1960s. The pier was also beginning to become in serious need of refurbishment. Much of the pier head was damaged in a fire in 1976 though the railway was undamaged [3] and had proved highly useful in evacuating the pier, it was finally closed in 1978. The pier remained railway-less until 1986 when a new diesel railway began operation [4]. Several electric cars have been preserved at the pier railway's own museum and at Leigh-on-Sea.
Car #21 preserved at Leigh-on-Sea

Postcard view of pier railway seen from the pier head end (KD Collection)

Another postcard view, this time at the shore end (KD Collection)

Another view of #21, it now lives on in an art gallery cafe!

[1] Keith Turner, Pier Railways & Tramways of the British Isles (Oakwood Press, 1999) p. 55
[2] Robert Harley, Southend-on-Sea Tramways (Middleton Press, 1994) Fig. 115
[3] Turner p. 61
[4] Dr Edwin Course, Barking to Southend (Middleton Press, 2002) Fig. 117