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South London Units


2SL Wandsworth Road station

photograph by Mike Morant

A 2-SL unit photographed at Wandsworth Road station in 1954 towards the end of its life. It cannot be positively identified but in a larger version of this photograph the stock number of the coach appears to end in 58, which would make it N°9758, the trailer of unit N°1808.

Like the 2-Wim units (below), the 2-SLs were two coach suburban units converted in 1929 from 1908 LBSC stock. They differed, though, in being from 16 former AC Driving Motor Brake Thirds. Eight were converted to DC DMBTs whilst the other eight became Driving Trailer Brake Composites. Standard SR cab fronts ere fitted though the units retained their flat roofs where the AC bow collectors had been. The same 60' underframes were utilised though the bogies were replaced with new SR motor bogies and ex-LBSC trailing bogies. The units carried the stock numbers 1801 to 1808.

Being provided with the standard SR power, control and braking systems meant that in theory the SL units could work in multiple with other SR suburban units. However, their width meant that they were effectively restricted to just the South London Line and the Wimbledon Line. Normally working as single units, they would be paired to form a four car unit for peak hours. As with the 2-Wim units, the headcode 2 was carried as a full width letter, not a number, though our photograph here shows it as a narrow width numeral. Maybe there was a shortage of stencils by 1954! One unit, N°1807 was destroyed in an air raid in 1940 whilst in the Peckham Rye depot. In 1941 the first class compartments were re-classified as third class, something that was never reversed after the war. N°1802 was withdrawn in 1951 but the remainder of the class continued in service until autumn of 1954 when they were replaced by new 2-EPB units.

2 Wim

2 Wim at West Croydon

photograph by the late Eric Arnold, courtesy of Mike Morant

2-Wim unit N°s1810 in the bay platform at West Croydon that was used for the West Croydon - Wimbledon trains. This photograph was taken in early British Railways days with the unit bearing the words "BRITISH RAILWAYS" and an 's' prefix to the unit number.

Note the unique full-width headcode number used on this and the South London line routes, which were considered to be letters (see headcodes).

The 2-Wim units were 2 coach suburban units converted in 1929 from former LBSCR ac South London line first class trailers for working the Wimbledon route, hence the class notation. This was the second time these coaches had been re-cycled as they were originally first class trailers built in 1908 and 1909 for the South London line's 6,700 volt ac EMUs. They were then taken out of South London Line use and spent some 19 years trundling up and down the Brighton main line as first class, locomotive-hauled, coaches. Then in 1929 the pendulum swung back again and they were converted once more to electric stock at Peckham Rye workshops in readiness for the electrification of the Wimbledon - West Croydon line the following year. Four of the converted coaches had traction engines fitted whilst the other four were driving trailers to be paired with the motor coaches.

The driving motor coaches had seven third class compartments with a side corridor whereas the trailers were provided with two first class and four third class compartments, each two coach unit seating 16 first class and 91 third class passengers. They were 127' 4" long overall and 9' 3" wide. The units were allocated numbers 1909 - 1912 when first converted but were re-numbered 1809 - 1812 during 1934. Due to their width they were restricted to the Wimbledon line (known colloquially as "The Toot" by locals) and the South London line, whilst 2-SL units (above) from there could sometimes be found on the Wimbledon line, though due to the short bay platform at West Croydon station the Wimbledon line trains were just a single two-coach unit, although there is a photo in a book by Leslie Oppitz of two 2-Wim units coupled together in "bank holiday formation", so it did happen at least on one recorded occasion. Did they use a through platform at West Croydon for this perhaps? On the South London line, however, the norm was a two coach unit except at peak times when two units could be coupled together and worked in multiple. All of the units were withdrawn during 1954.

This page was last updated 7 November 2020

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