Shildon move gives City commuters’ favourite a new lease of life

By Geoff Courtney

A PRESERVED LNER-designed EMU that gave more than three decades’ service with BR on busy trains between the commuter belt of Essex and London’s Liverpool Street station, faces a new lease of life after its transfer from the East Anglian Railway Museum to the Locomotion museum in Shildon, where it will be restored.

The unit is the sole survivor of 92 three-car sets that were built by Metro Cammell and Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Co in 1949 for the then newly-electrified London to Shenfield route, Britain’s first post Second World War electrification scheme.

Above and below: In a photograph from a BR leaflet published in 1951, one of the new Liverpool Street-Shenfield electric units is on the Ilford flyover and a B1-hauled express below. The flyover was built as part of the electrification of the route that was started in 1937 but, with work being suspended due to the Second World War, wasn’t completed until September 1949. One of the three-car electric units, No. 017, has been preserved and is currently at Locomotion in Co Durham for restoration.

Initially numbered in the LNER coach series, they were built for 1500v direct current operation but converted to 25,000v AC in 1960 and subsequently renumbered unit Nos. 001-092 and reclassified Class 306.

The sets, which were part of daily life for outer east London and Essex trainspotters during school holiday forays to the capital as well as City commuters, handled the heavy passenger traffic on the former GER and LNER line until 1981, with one three-car unit, No. 306017, being saved for preservation.

Saving No. 017 from the scrapheap was a worthy accolade for this popular class of EMUs that transported the denizens of London’s financial district to their offices for 32 years, and its early days in preservation comprised use as training for apprentices based at the Ilford maintenance depot that had been opened in 1949 specifically to house these EMUs.

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