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Unofficial DMU Namings

by Jonathan Horswell

During the late 1980s/early 1990s many staff saw good reason to apply an unofficial name to locomotives. It improved moral and gave the locos in question an identity other than just a number. The most easily remembered names were those applied by Tinsley depot staff to their locomotives, but down south, many first-generation DMUs and EMUs were named whilst working under the NSE banner. Although out of the context of this website, the EMU names were those of women, applied to the front end of Class 415 4 EPBs based at Slade Green depot. Staff at Reading depot joined in on the act and applied names to the front end of Class 101, 117 and 119 DMUs. The names consisted of neat black letters, usually beneath the centre windscreen, and all referred to the wives or girlfriends of the drivers. The names that I noted, though there could be others, were as follows:

Class 101
L832[51226 + 51499]SARAH
L833[51425 + 51504]CLAIRE
L834[51431 + 51501]JENNY
L835[51432 + 51498]VICKY
L836[51434 + 51503]LOUISE
L837[51437 + 53751]HEIDI
L838[53308 + 53331]SUSY/SUE (opposite ends)
L839[53310 + 53326]SHARON
L840[53311 + 53322]KATHY
later renamedLAURA
L841[53312 + 53322]TRACY
L842[53314 + 53327]TANYA
Class 117
L409[51344 + 51386]FRANCIS
Class 119
L575[51060 + 51088]ZOE
L579[51065 + 51103]DENISE
L580[51066 + 51094]WENDY
L588[51079 + 51107]LIZ
L594[51073 + 51104]HELEN
L595[51074 + 51086]LISA
L596[51076 + 51099]LYSETTE

Class 205 and 207 DEMUs at Eastleigh were also treated in a similar way. The other namings of note that took place around this time saw the two Salisbury route learning bubble cars of Class 121 receive names. Popular amongst staff, it was inevitable that the pair would be christened as twins:


These two names appeared on laminated cards placed in the centre windscreen, Ben consisted of white letters on a red ground and Bill was white on a blue ground. Ben would of course go on to become Pandora, the Network Rail Video Survey Unit so named because it had a box of tricks! This name inadvertently carried on the theme of female names and was applied in neat white lettering in the blanked off roof-mounted headcode boxes.

The only other heritage DMU name that was applied in unofficial format that I can find was the Class 122 route learning vehicle No.975023 (ex 55001), which was named Thunderbird 1, the name being applied (by Longsight depot staff?) in white letters behind the BR double arrows on the bodysides. It is seen in the image at Stockport on November 6th, 1993. Paul Moxon.

(Others - on the ScR there was 977177 (ex-55015) - 'Sandra', and circa the 1960s there were also unofficial names applied by South Gosforth, any more? - Stuart).

We don't seem to have any images on the website featuring these names other than Thunderbird, does anyone have any they can submit?

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