SEmG

4 Lav

Working the hourly stopping service from Victoria to Brighton a pair of 4Lav units shown passing Purley Oaks on what was then the down main line on 7th July 1963.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

 
Maunsell designed the four car 4Lav units for use on the newly electrified Brighton Line. They were built at Eastleigh in three batches (first 20 units and then another 13 units in 1932 and the final two units in 1940) the original units, numbered from 1921 to 1953, were renumbered 2921 to 2953 in 1936. Note the typical Maunsell "kink" in the coach side just behind the guards van. The final 1940 built pair carried the numbers 2954 and 2955.
 
2948 4Lav unit 2948 pauses at Haywards Heath with the corresponding hourly stopping service from London Bridge to Brighton.

photograph by Keith Harwood

 
The initial order, dated 16 May 1930, was for 44 units but this was later cut to 33 units when plans to run a semi-fast London - West Worthing service were dropped. (The underframes for the extra seven units were already built so were used instead for further suburban units). The two end cars of the 4Lav units were third class 70 seater motor driving brakes, and between them there were two non-driving composite first and third class trailers with compartment layout. One trailer was an 80 seater and the other was a 54 seater with a side corridor. A partition separated the first class compartments from the thirds in this car and there was a lavatory at each end. Units weighed 139 tons and were 256' 9" long and when delivered seated 70 first and 204 third class passengers.

Several units were damaged by enemy action during WWII, but none too seriously and all quickly repaired. Only serious accident resulting in a vehicle lost was the South Croydon crash in October 1947 after which 2926 ran with a 2Hal motorcoach for the rest of its life. In later years the amount of first class seating was reduced, the units then seating 46 first and 234 third (subsequently second).

 
An unidentified 4Lav seen at Clapham Junction, Also working the Brighton stopping service.

photograph by Ray Soper

4 Lav
 
4 Lav A pair of 4Lavs leaving Norbury station on a bright sunny day.

photograph by Mike Morant

 
Though most duties were on the main Brighton line, working in conjunction with 2Bil, 2Hal and 4Sub units, they also had regular workings eastwards to Ore and westwards to Littlehampton, also between Three Bridges and Horsham. For many years they ran a late evening service from London Bridge to Dartford, returning early the next morning, in order to put a pair at Slade Green Depot each night, as this is where all their electrical and bogie overhauls were done. Main body overhauls were dealt with at Lancing (along with accident damage) whilst all routine maintenance was carried out at Lovers Walk Depot, which was where the whole class was always based.
 
A Southern Railway publicity photograph showing one of the two Bullied units introduced in 1940. Note the resemblance to the 4101 series of 4Subs

photograph Glen Woods collection

4 Lav
 
Late in life units gained yellow cantrail markings for first class and air horns replaced their whistles. Three (2921/31/50) got full yellow ends but all were withdrawn still in green livery. These units served the Brighton line well and lasted until the majority were replaced by the far less comfortable 4Vep units in 1968. Just six units, 2923/24/28/39/49/50, lasted into the following year though these were all withdrawn on 5 April 1969 and the last units were scrapped by August of that year. During their last years in traffic they were frequently to be found sharing the hourly stopping services from Victoria and London Bridge to Brighton via Redhill (giving a half hourly service south of East Croydon) with 2Bil units, and were, additionally, the mainstay of the hourly semi fast Victoria to Brighton service.

 
4 Lav A 4Lav having a tow! 2947 being hauled by an E60xx electro-diesel with a brakevan at the rear.

photograph by Ray Soper

Additional text provided by John Atkinson

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This page was last updated 25 November 2012

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