4-Sub (Class 405)


Southern Railway publicity photograph

photograph: Glen Woods collection

The 4 Sub designation first appeared in 1941 for the prototype of a new class of suburban unit first put into service on the Victoria to Orpington line. Two motor brake second compartments sandwiched two trailer second compartment coaches, one of which had been designed as a composite. They were built with steel underframes and body panels, timber frames supporting the body panels and with canvass roofs. This generation of 4 Subs had domed cab fronts and in that respect were similar to the 2 Hals.

These units were nicknamed "Shebas". The nickname comes from the Bible "And when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon.....she came to Jerusalem with a very great train" 1 Kings 10 verses 1 & 2

When the Shebas were put in production between 1944 and 1945 there was a degree of criticism regarding the width of the compartments - not because this restricted the leg room but because there was insufficient width for passengers to stand without tramping on the feet of those occupying the seats.

Southern Railway publicity photograph

photograph: Glen Woods collection

A further generation of 4 Subs was introduced in 1946. Built with flat cab fronts and curving bodywork along the lines of the contemporary Bulleid mainline coach stock, they were of all steel construction. These 4 Subs were however mechanically and electrically similar to the earlier batch.

Again the coaches were all compartment and one trailer was also designed as a composite. As a result of the over-crowding issue in this series the number of third (later second) class compartments in the motor coaches was reduced from nine to eight and in the trailers from eleven to ten. This layout continued until 1947 when No 4377 was given an open saloon trailer instead of the compartment configuration

This arrangement appears to have won approval because the following series 4378 - 4387 of 1948 was built with open brake third motor coaches as well as the open saloon trailer. This was the final development of the 4Subs and although a few (4601 - 4608) reverted to the original formation Nos 4621 - 4754 of 1949 - 1951 had open motor coaches and one open trailer

4 Sub units were reformed over their lives, composite trailers being withdrawn and later saloon coaches replacing withdrawn earlier compartment stock. Withdrawal of undamaged units commenced in 1972 and all were out of service by the end of 1983. The 4 Subs were classified as class 405 under TOPS, but their unit numbers always remained under their original SR designation in the 4xxx series and were never renumbered into the 5xxx series to conform to TOPS.


British Railways Southern Region publicity photograph

photograph: Glen Woods collection

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This page was last updated 24 February 2013

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