3 Car Suburban Units

Originally the South Eastern and Chatham Railway had proposed electrifying its inner suburban lines using a system with two conductor rails. One conductor rail would be outside the running rails carrying 1500 volts DC positive and the other between the running rails carrying 1500 volts DC negative. In theory it was a good system because it avoided the clearance problems associated with an overhead catenary whilst requiring substantially fewer sub-stations than the LSWR's 600 volt system.

However time was not on the SECR's side and by the time they had got their proposals together various committees had been formed in the run up to the grouping in 1922 to discuss the various electrification systems and how they would impact the new Southern Railway after the grouping. Broadly it was felt that all of the systems had disadvantages but eventually it was agreed that both the existing LSWR and LBSCR sytems should continue but that the complications of the SECR scheme would probably outweigh the theoretical savings on the initial installation.

When finally electrification work started on the former SECR it was using the 600 volt side conductor rail system adopted by the LSWR and in 1925 the first of no less than one hundred and thirty four electric units appeared. They came in two different guises: Units 1496 to 1524 were newly built but in the tradition established by the LSWR units 1401 to 1495 and 1525 to 1534 were converted from existing former SECR four and six-wheeled coaching stock in Ashford works.

Originally Nº1500 a 1925 Eastern Division unit seen here augmented to a 4-Sub unit with a Bulleid trailer and renumbered S4330. Although the old LSWR alphabetic headcode system was intially used for all suburban routes S4330 is seen carrying a numeric headcode on a Cannon Street - Orpington service

photograph by A J Wills

This new stock for the eastern section was quite distinct from the contemporary South Western stock. Although it had the domed roof over the cab there were no torpedo ends and the cab front was flatter than the southwestern units were but still slightly bowed along the lines of the LBSCR SLs in their original form and being longer than the South Western units allowing an extra compartment in each coach.

The new units were on underframes that were 62ft 0ins (18.9m)long which, having been introduced by the SECR for their Continental stock in 1921 now became the standard length for all standard electric stock built by the Southern from then on. The trailers were built by the Birmingham Carriage & Wagon Co Ltd motor coaches by the Metropolitan Carriage & Wagon Co Ltd and they were fitted with Dick Kerr 300hp motors.

Nº4328 Augmented with a new Bulleid trailer at Hither Green in September 1955

photograph by A J Wills

Orpington03 Now as Nº014, one of the 1925 South Eastern units, reduced to a two car unit and now in the Engineer's Department at Lovers Walk depot having been converted into a de-icing unit

photograph: Transport of Delight website

Nº4338, another of the converted South Eastern 3 Car Suburban Sets, also in the sidings at Micheldever following withdrawal. .

photograph: Mike Morant collection.


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This page was last updated 2 April 2013

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