top of page
  • Writer's pictureM&GN

Society buys NNR’s “Eastern DMU”

Press release

April 16 2020

The Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society is pleased to announce the acquisition of the North Norfolk Railway’s Eastern Region Class 101 Met Cam diesel multiple unit.

This is part of the package of support which Society Trustees have made available to the Railway, designed to bring a much-needed cash injection at a time when trains cannot run. It is the second major capital element – the purchase of Hunslet 0-6-0ST Ring Haw was announced two weeks ago.

Chairman Neil Sharpe, speaking yesterday, said “We are pleased that the NNR Board has now agreed the sale. Together with other elements in the support package, the Society’s Trustees believe this will contribute significantly to securing the future of the Railway during this “down time” and as it plans for the restoration of services once the emergency passes.“

“This is an important acquisition for the Society. ‘Met Cam’ units feature large in East Anglia’s rail history during the second half of the 20th Century, first in the form of the visually similar “Met Cam lightweights” [until 1969] and then the Class 101s.”

The Class 101 was one of the largest and most successful of the first generation diesel units. They were certainly the longest lived. Over 600 vehicles in all were built at Metropolitan Cammell’s Washwood Heath plant in Birmingham between 1956 and 1959. The final five units continued in service until the end of 2003

Initially concentrated in the East of Scotland, the West Midlands, West Yorkshire and the North East, during their long careers they were used across much of the network. Their close association with East Anglia came in their final two decades, with two and three car sets based at Norwich and Cambridge and regular use seen on Sheringham trains.

46 vehicles survive in preservation with 5 on the NNR: Eastern Set E51228, E56062, NRM owned LMR set M51188, M56362, and spare DBMS M51192 from Ecclesbourne.

Staff on the NNR usually refer to 51228/56062 as “the Eastern Set” to distinguish it from the former LMR set owned by the National Railway Museum which is also resident on the line.

Closer investigation, however, reveals that E51228 and E56062 did not actually become ‘a set’ until they arrived on the NNR in 2003 and that their careers are quite different. Trailer E56062 entered traffic in August 1957, spending much of its life in the North East. It later moved to Norwich and finally to Manchester. Power car Sc51228 began life in Scotland where it remained for 30 years before moving South of the Border to the Midlands and finally to the North West.

On arriving at the NNR, after 9 months work, it was quickly pressed into traffic in June 2004. Until 2010 it was the main stay of Yellow and off-peak services on the line, regularly covering between 5,000 and 10,000 miles running per year.

Initially carrying BR corporate blue livery, it received BR green livery in 2010 and both cars were “back dated” to near original, pre-refurbished internal condition.

It was taken out of service between 2013 and 2017 to receive major works and the NRM owned Met Cam set was brought in to work services.

The “Eastern Set” came back into service in 2018 and since then has shared services with its sister set.

Mr Sharpe says “We see the unit continuing to provide a major contribution to the Railway’s service and look forward to seeing it do just that once the present emergency is over.”

Photographs: [approved to use]

Kevin Dowd: E56062 pictured at Ely in Regional Railways livery whilst allocated to Norwich.

Chris Moxon: The “Eastern Set” at work on the NNR July 2007

Note to editors

The Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway Society is the supporting charity of (and major shareholder in) the North Norfolk Railway, which operates a 5¼ mile heritage railway from Sheringham to Holt. Founded in October 1959 after the extensive closure of the M&GN system, the Society works to preserve, display and operate a wide range of historical artefacts which include five steam locomotives – Wissington, LNER B12 8572, GER J15/Y14 564, WD 90775 and Hunslet 0-6-0ST Ring Haw – diesel locos Class 08 D3935 and Class 31 diesel D5631 and many unique carriages and wagons

Objective, Vision and Mission Statement

The principle objective of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway Society (the Society) is to advance public education by the acquisition, restoration, preservation and exhibition of locomotives, rolling stock and other railway artefacts and, in particular, those of the former Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GNJR) and its successor companies. Its continued vision for the foreseeable future is to focus on geographical area of the M&GNJR and other aspects of East Anglian railway history.

The support package offered to the North Norfolk Railway, in addition to acquiring the Class 101 unit, comprises purchase of Ring Haw and the Grove Allen H404 crane, christened ‘Horace’. The Society has also offered the Railway use of its locomotives for reduced fees, once passenger services resume, bringing forward projects involving Society locomotives and grants for work on NNR owned assets once Weybourne Works and infrastructure teams are back in operation.

Mr Sharpe says:

“We feel confident that members will be behind us in offering this package to help secure the future of the Railway during and beyond the emergency and we have asked for their ongoing support in continuing membership and donations to the Society for us to put to such good use.”

“We look forward to the end of the restrictions, a return to normality and to the reopening of the Railway we all love.”

The North Norfolk Railway is one of East Anglia’s top tourist attractions, operating a 5¼ mile heritage railway from Sheringham to Holt which normally carries circa 160,000 passe

ngers a year.

63 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page