British Railways Electric Multiple Units to 1975, by Hugh Longworth

British Railways Electric Multiple Units to 1975, by Hugh Longworth
Published by OPC in 2015, 368 pages. Hardback - 21.5cm by 30cm (N7937)

Brand New

From the introduction: This book completes my trilogy of books covering the coaching stock of British Railways. My desire to prepare these books began when I first got hold of a BR diagram book describing and illustrating the whole of the British Railways coaching stock. These books were designed for the operating departments and showed the seating layouts, weights, dimensions and other details that would affect the use of the coaches. The diagram books are heavy tomes with pages that can be removed and replaced to keep them up to date. Straight away I decided to try and combine these diagrams with the lists of rolling stock that I had been trying to keep up-to-date over the years.

My first book covered all the first generation DMUs. An obvious choice as there is a great interest in that area, and Ian Allan Publishing felt that it would meet a need. And so it proved. The second book covered hauled stock, specifically the Mark 1 & Mark 2 standard coaches and the BR built parcels coaches. This is something I had an interest in and wanted to put together, and 1 was pleasantly surprised to find that this book sold well too.

This led to this, the third book. Out of the three this was the one I had the most doubts about. If I was to follow the path of the other two I should only be including the BR units designed and built since 1948. This would have produced a slimmer book than the other two and I felt that such a book might be a bit boring, with less variety than the others. My memories of train spotting in the late 1960s and 1970s included many pre-nationalisation designs of EMU and for me that was where much of the interest lay. So with the encouragement of my publisher, I decided to broaden the chronological scope of this book. Laying aside my BR diagram books I headed off to the National Archives at Kew to locate older diagrams.

So what you see before you now is a book that covers all electric multiple unit trains that have run on the main lines of the railways of Britain, from the 1897 built Waterloo and City line units through to the PEP prototypes which appeared in the I 970s. I have excluded the London Underground, Liverpool Overhead, Glasgow Subway and similar lines, but I have included trains built by mainline companies which operated through-trains over some of these lines. I have included the PEP trains as they marked the start of something new, and the last of the standard types of EMU I have included are the class 312 units as they were similar to existing designs. As I have mentioned in a previous book, the aim is to cover classes that are substantially or completely extinct, leaving the rest for future historians to chronicle.

I feel that the decision to include the stock of pre-nationalisation and pre-grouping companies has been a good one and produces a well balanced book. It would be very hard to tell the story of the Southern EMUs in particular without giving the history of the stock of the LBSCR, LSWR and Southern Railways as well as the BR built units. The Southern's great tradition of making do and re-using, which continues until today, becomes clear as you trace through the different classes. I grew up in Liverpool and the railways south of the Thames always seemed mysterious and somewhat bland to me. At last I feel I have got a grasp of how that great system developed. I am typing this as T sit on a Southern Class 377 unit heading to Brighton (73843 in unit 377443, since you ask) and I really sense the history of the line I am travelling on.

This book divides itself easily into two main parts. The first section is the unit listing. Working through the regions I give a full listing of all units with a potted history for each. All the units are listed, with the formations and reformations of the units in those classes which usually maintained fixed formations. From about 1980 onwards TOPS unit numbers began to be applied, with the class number preceding the unit numbers. The ac TOPS numbered units are listed in numerical order as this gives more clarity, and in later years there was some transferring of these units between regions. The Southern region, individual as ever, resisted using TOPS numbers for its units. After a few Class 411 units were released with full six digit unit numbers, a change was soon made to 4-digit numbers which worked better for the Southern Operating department. Most units were renumbered but the first two digits were not carried on the units. These units are listed separately after the first list of Southern units.

The second part of the book is a listing of individual carriages. This is something I feel is often missing in published information on EMUs. Each different class of carriage in this section includes a diagram showing the coach and its layout. It also carries a full cross-reference to each unit the coach was allocated to in its lifetime.