50397 Class 103 Driving Motor Brake Second (Scrapped)

Last Location

Private Site: Swansea

Location History

Battlefield Line Jul 78-Mar 96

Current Status

Scrapped at Swansea, Sep 2009


Private Site: Snetterton Mar 96-Nov 99

Last Livery



Coventry Railway Centre Nov 99-Jun 06

Partner Vehicle(s)



Private Site: Swansea Jun 06-Sep 09

Record Last Updated

7 July 2018


Preservation Modifications
Heavily converted into an observation car in 1983, the vehicle lost most of its mechanical equipment with the engines and gearboxes gas being torched off and sold to the West Somerset Railway. Most of the cab, wiring, jumpers and brackets were also removed. The lighting circuit was wired directly to the batteries and controlled by a light switch in the remains of the cab, which was radically modified to improve the forward view. To stop entry both cab doors were replaced by fixed ex - LMS (secondman's) and ex -LNER (driver's) doors. The vacuum system was converted into a system more like a hauled coach and the smiths heaters were replaced by an unusual steam heating system.

Further modifications in 1986 & 1988 included the removal of interior bulkheads turning the brake area into a bar (later wheelchair area) leaving little of the original vehicle intact.

Preservation Information
Withdrawn from BR in Feb 1971, 50397 was stored at several locations including Penzance (Long Rock), Plymouth, Didcot, Old Oak Common and Harwich before arriving at the Battlefield Line in 1978 with partner 56160 for use as an observation saloon.

Because as a power car 50397 was such a major task to convert to an observation saloon (in fact, the only DMU power car to be so treated) this was not undertaken until 1981 and the vehicle entered service in 1982, emerging in green livery. By very nature of the conversion from a DMU powered vehicle to a coach, inevitably major modifications were needed (see modifications section).

In 1987 the vehicle was repainted maroon to match the hauled stock it was operating with but by 1989 the vehicle had been withdrawn following warping of the guards van doors.

Rapid deterioration followed, despite efforts such as re-riveting the roof, and the vehicle was partially asbestos stripped as it had become a heath hazard. The vehicle's bodyshell was deteriorating, with roof and window units leaking, ceiling panels falling, interior side panels bulging and asbestos falling underneath. The asbestos removal destroyed the entire interior panelling and only a few fittings were saved, steel sheeting over the front of the vehicle the rear of the vehicle and between the windows had to be cut away and the floor was also removed as blue asbestos fireproofing was beneath it. Blue asbestos remained in the heating ducts along the side of the vehicle and in a box section in RH of the cab. It was intended to return it to service as a observation saloon but this never happened.

The vehicle departed the Battlefield Line in 1996 in extremely poor condition and spent time at Snetterton and the Coventry Railway Centre (where it was repainted in red oxide primer in 2001). Latterly the vehicle was in the ownership of an individual who was unfortunately jailed for fraud, with severe legal/ownership issues affecting a number of vehicles including 50397, preventing any form of conservation and leading to further deterioration.

In 2006 a loan was agreed with the embryonic Amman Valley Railway who planned to restore the vehicle in two years, the vehicle moving to a hauliers yard at Fabian Way, Swansea.

No work was undertaken however and the vehicle, by now a completely derelict shell, was broken up in September 2009, despite last minute attempts to save the vehicle and have it join Class 100 56317 at the Great Yeldham Transport Museum.

50397 became the second of the three preserved Class 103 powercars to be scrapped, leaving only one complete Class 103 2-car set left in existance.


A very dilapidated 50397 at Swansea, 15/9/06. Amman Valley Railway


A very dilapidated 50397 at Swansea, 15/9/06. Amman Valley Railway


50397 in store at Port Tennant, Swansea, 15/9/06. Alf Roberts


50397, recently sold by the Coventry Railway Centre to the fledgling Amman Valley Railway, in store at Port Tennant, Swansea, 13/6/06. Phil Trotter


50397 is unloaded to its final home, a hauliers yard in Swansea, June 2006. Alf Roberts


50397 ready to depart from Coventry Railway Centre, 28/5/06. Leon Pegg


50397 stored at Coventry, 15/5/05. Simon Edwards


50397 in storage at Coventry Railway Centre, July 2004.Tom Clift


50397 in storage at Coventry Railway Centre, 13/6/03.Steve Hodgson


50397 in storage at Coventry Railway Centre, 13/6/03.Steve Hodgson


50397 after Alfred Roberts had started work on it, August 2001


50397 in storage at Coventry Railway Centre, 23/07/00. Alf Roberts


50397 in storage at Snetterton, March 1996. Alf Roberts


50397 neglected amid the weeds at Shackerstone, 22/5/95. Alf Roberts


A rare photograph showing 50397 during the period when it was actually used, at Shackerstone, 27/5/85. Chris Lings


50397 at Shackerstone 1981 whilst under conversion into an observation saloon, 1981. Alf Roberts




View of the remains of the cab. Alf Roberts


The front saloon. Alf Roberts


The middle saloon. Alf Roberts


The "open plan" guards van. Alf Roberts


The "open plan" guards van. Alf Roberts