Last surviving Mersey Rail Class 503 train arrives at Locomotive Storage in Margate

Mersey Rail Class 503 arrives in Margate Photo Nathan James Coade

The only Mersey Rail Class 503 Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) train in the country has arrived at the former Hornby factory site now owned by Locomotive Storage Ltd.

Locomotive Storage operates a storage and maintenance business for classic railway locomotives and heritage rolling stock.

Locomotive Bittern was due to be the first stock housed at the site – arrival due on June 2 – but has been pipped to the post by The Mersey Rail Class.

The train had a top speed in its day of 65mph. Built exclusively for use on the “Wirral and Mersey Iine (Liverpool to West Kirby, New Brighton and Rock Ferry), using the third rail power system as is used on the Southern Region today.

They units were introduced in two batches, the first in 1938 by LMS – London Midland and Scottish Railway – which the train shown in the picture was part of. It is in the 1938 LMS Livery.

The second batch was introduced in 1956 by the then nationalised British Railways to a similar design and known as “AM3’s.”

Photo Nathan James Coade

From new in 1938, they were delivered with power operated sliding doors. Thanet had to wait 50 years for this feature with the introduction of the 375 Electrostar EMUs.

All but the one train now delivered to Locomotive Storage were withdrawn from service and scrapped in 1985.

The remaining train last ran on a special service in 1988. It was preserved at the Electric Railway Museum Coventry which has closed recently, forcing all preserved EMUS there to be rehomed.

The main warehouse at the Margate factory site in Ramsgate Road has undergone extensive engineering works to prepare for the arrival of the first railway vehicles.

Photo John Horton


Seven railway tracks have been laid in the warehouse, with access loading docks to facilitate the unloading and loading of locomotives and carriages. It is expected that up to 30 items of rolling stock will eventually be housed there.

Photo John Horton

Locomotive Storage director Frank Martin said: “This vehicle has been moved to Margate pending its future restoration as the sole survivor of its class. It is in poor condition at the moment and will provide an interesting comparison with fully restored Bittern.”

Mersey Rail Class 503 information with thanks to John Horton


  1. An informative and interesting story.
    It will be good to see as and when more stock arrives at the former Rovex and Hornby factory site. As an ex-employee, it would make an interesting story about the history of the model factory site itself.

  2. The LMS Merseyrail Class 503s were very much cutting edge technology in the 1930s with power operated press button, sliding doors, and deep, cushioned seats that matched windows but with leather strap hangers, reflecting the design’s urban usage underground, Nice to see the unit getting under cover at last.

    • My friends and I used to love those leather straps … they were great for swinging off as the train took us home from school. We were gutted when they withdrew these in favour of the ‘new’ trains (which are themselves now due to be replaced) because they weren’t as good for misbehaving, and the train guard could tell us off via intercom!

  3. Wasn’t the Class 365 the first to have sliding doors in the early 90’s in thanet, where as the class 375 wasn’t until the early 2000’s.

  4. They were not known as AM3, that was the original classification for the Glasgow “Blue Trains” later Class 303

    • They certainly WERE known as AM3 way before the BR classification of 303s as AM3. Pretty certain it was an LMS-derived code.

  5. Glad to see the old Rovex building being used for storage and renovation rather than another empty derelict local site.

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