Friends of 502 Group


Your story

Return of a National Icon

Group introduction

We are a locally based group founded in 2009 to pressurise National Railway Museum to actively protect the sole surviving Class 502 Electric Unit.

These Electric Units were designed and built at the Derby Works of London Midland and Scottish Railway in late 1930’s for the intensive commuter services from Liverpool to Southport, Crossens and Ormskirk. Our unit entered service in 1939 and ran until withdrawn in 1978 when it became part of the National Collection under the control of National railway Museum.

In early 1980’s supporters at Steamport in Southport renovated and repainted into original maroon livery. As Steamport moved to Preston to become Ribble Steam Railway from 1997 the unit returned to National Railway Museum’s custody where it languished in open exposed to the elements until 2009 when we were allowed to take control.

In late 2011 the ownership was transferred to our Group following which we moved in March 2012 into protected undercover accommodation in Burscough within the premises of Merseyside Transport Trust with whom we work closely

Our intention is to restore the unit to working condition and have it available for public operational use. This will be a ten year programme. As the bodywork has suffered severe weather effects since 1998 our initial objectives were to stabilise the deterioration and then look at a rolling programme to restore the body shell and interior. The former has been achieved. The chassis bogies and motors are in excellent condition requiring only modest attention.

We have been active since 2009. At inception there where 12 of us, now over 60. Largely the Officers are those with practical skills to undertake the work. So far we have only brought in specialist transport and welding skills.

Our objective is to have our Unit operating on a local Heritage Railway for enjoyment and educational purposes rather than as "stuffed and mounted" Museum Exhibit.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

Everything we have achieved so far has been largely funded by the generosity of our team and supported by generous donations from local community through Open Days organised in conjunction with out colleagues in Merseyside Transport Trust (MTT). We purchase all our materials locally receiving discounts and practical (non financial) support from our suppliers. This is two way traffic as both sides benefit. The purpose of this application is for floor coverings as the walking surfaces over the new steel flooring we are installing. So far we have funded everything ourselves. Our Unit has been around for 75 years. We are restoring with 30 to 40 year anticipated life expectancy. Your funding would be for what people see and use.

As we are achieving greater progress our local presence and Membership are increasing. We are increasingly well known and respected within Carriage side of Heritage Railway Community for taking on what many considered to be impossible. These will be our legacies

"I'm proud to be part of this Group's historic and permanent project to locally achieve what was not possible nationally.

(Tony Kuivala, Treasurer of Friends of 502 Group)"

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