Suburban Electric Railway Association      
Located at the ELECTRIC RAILWAY MUSEUM, Rowley Road, Baginton, Warwickshire           


South Tyneside 2-EPB EMU - Restoration Report
Updated 15/05/2017

Photo by Michael Mensing: Newcastle Central 19th May 1962, 16:03 service to South Shields.


The aim is to revert our South Tyneside EPB unit back to the appearance it had when running between Newcastle and South Shields between late 1954 and January 1963; thus recreating an authentic, and only example of, a North Eastern third rail passenger unit. To do this we must research the modifications that were made to the vehicles post 1963 and source original and reliable references on how to reverse those modifications and replace removed components.

Like all the other 14 two car South Tyneside units ours was subject to several modifications when it was transferred south. The headcode destination blinds and marker lights on the cab ends were removed and replaced with a CIG style two digit roller blind unit and the first class compartment was declassified. However, they all retained a number of their distinctive features; such as the longer brake van,the mark 1 suburban style seat cushions and their 90mph express gearing. Over the years the whole fleet came to be fitted with AWS, starting bells, loudaphones and eventually sealed beam headlights. As our unit went into departmental service the motor coach had all of its interior seating removed and had one special modification that we intend to retain; the facility to remotely control either a 33/1 or a Class 73 locomotive from the DMSO cab. But all of the other changes are planned to be reversed.

The project has been led by SERA member Robert Davidson

Our unit parked on the Fullwell Curve siding at Strawberry Hill Depot in 1995 immediately prior to being purchased for preservation.


Our unit was purchased in 1996 and moved to the Rother Valley Railway at Robertsbridge where it spent just over two years. Progress was made renovating the driving trailer semi saloon. The unit had to be moved to Coventry in late 1998 and once there work on it was stopped as there were other projects that had a higher priority. This remained the case for over a decade and attention was given back to it in 2014 when it was surveyed with a view to restarting the project. The initial work was carried out to weatherproof the unit as wet conditions had taken their toll on some areas and by the end of 2016 it was dry throughout.

This paved the way for work to begin in 2017 on the cab of the driving motor coach. The cab is the one area that clearly identifies an ex-North Eastern Region EPB unit so we aim to create that distinctive front end look to lay down a marker for the project.


  • Inside the cab we have removed the complete installations for the starting bells, headlight, AWS and Loudaphone. This includes not only the physical equipment but also the wiring that has been traced back to the master loom and removed completely from the terminals. In the case of the starting bells this includes the physical equipment from the brake van area.

  • The two tone warning horns have been taken off the roof and all pipework removed including the operating valve under the driver's desk. this leaves the port that will be used to attach the pipework to for the whistle that is to be re-fitted in due course.

  • The driver's desk has been dismantled to allow access to the recess behind it which has to be cleared of all the years of debris that has built up behind it, the area is also subject to some welding work. We need to fabricate a new desk to replace the one we removed as we need one without the holes that were cut for the warning horn controls.

  • The driver's side suffered a fair amount of water ingress over the years and some of the timber trim on the inside was rotten. This has been removed along with some of the panelling which will be either re-used or replaced.

  • All the paint is being removed from the cab front and sides, this is to expose the metal around the lower edges to determine how much needs to be cut out and replaced with new welded sections. We have ordered the steel sheet for this and the welding will be carried out in June.

    During the removal of layers of old paint we uncovered the original paint dates and markings painted on the unit when it was outshopped from Eastleigh Works. The unit was first painted on February 28th 1955. You can see this on the picture on the left.

  • The steps over the buffers, lamp irons and brake pipe retaining plates have been removed and stripped back to bare metal and primed. They have been stored until the welding work is complete and they can be re-fitted.

  • Back inside the cab we have taken off the headcode box and this has been sold to a collector, thus raising much needed funds for the project. This reveals one are where we need assistance. We know exactly what the original front end looked like from the outside and can re-create this but inside the cab we really need reference material to what the interior of the original cab destination and marker lights looked light. We are hoping someone may have a photo or we can track down copies of the original drawings. If you can help with this then please get in touch.


We are looking at some of the types of work to do during the tail end of 2017 when the weather precludes working on the outside of the unit which is stored in the open air.

We have identified the two inner end compartments of the driving trailer which are still in 'as withdrawn' condition and would be ideal for renovation back to passenger carrying standard, one of which is pictured on the left. Using the experience we gained in the early years of the project at Robertsbridge we have a very good understanding of woodwork and interior trim renovation so these would be good for the long term ambitions for the project.

To continue with work on the interior of the driving trailer we need to have an asbestos survey carried out, this is a mandatory Health & Safety requirement and has an estimated cost of 500:00.

In addition we have a real need to obtain a 20 foot container to store the seating components that are currently stored in the former saloon areas of the motor coach. This will allow us to asses the interior of that vehicle with regards to commencing the reconstruction of that vehicle in 2019. We need a waterproof container in good condition and the best quote we have for this is 1200:00.

If you can offer any financial support for this project or would consider becoming a regular financial supporter with a standing order of a few pounds a month then please get in contact with us.