Within a space of several months two major restorations have been successfully completed at the East Lancs Railway both taking long years and thousands upon thousands on man hours to complete. These are the Craven 105 Diesel Multiple Units and 80097 Standard 4 steam locomotive.
Both restorations tell their own story and both are now fully preserved for future generations to admire the workmanship and enjoy travelling on these first class locomotives.
I am dedicating this blog to the 105 and a separate blog to 80097 to pay tribute to all volunteers who helped bring these two railway vehicles back into service.
The British Rail Classes 105 and 106 diesel multiple units were built by Cravens Limited of Sheffield from 1956 to 1959, remarkably coexisting with steam services. The class were built with a side profile identical to British Railways Mark 1 carriage stock, using the same doors and windows. Due to the abundant use of use of asbestos in their construction, an extended usage by BR was ruled out.
As a result none were selected for refurbishment. The last passenger car was withdrawn from service in 1988. Hence why so few have been found and been restored.
Like all restoration project it starts with enthusiasts and back in 1996 the Bury 105 DMU Group were formed, their mission? To rescue the 105 which was being stored at the West Somerset railway but in a totally dilapidated condition. The group paid out the princely sum of £1 for the 105.
The two car Cravens Class 105 Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) had been the West Somerset Railway since 1980 and where BR had operated it for some 240,000 miles before it’s general condition was such that it was withdrawn from service.
The restoration of the Cravens 105, was carried out by a small but determined band of dedicated volunteers who, for 22 years, toiled with huge engineering challenges without original drawings and specifications to bring this DMU back to life.
The power car of the set is unique and is the sole survivor of fleet of nearly 200 vehicles. Two trailers (non powered) survive (one at the ELR and one at Llangollen). The set is owned by a small group of very long standing ELR members (around 12 people). The restoration however has been a nucleus of four people with around another six dedicated but very ad hoc.
In 2018 the work of the volunteers was richly rewarded when the group travelled to Birmingham to pick up a top prize at the Heritage Railway Association’s Annual award ceremony.