There were originally forty-three units, introduced in two batches. The first nineteen were built by the LMS for the electrification of the former Wirral Railway lines between Birkenhead Park, New Brighton and West Kirby in 1938. They also worked to Rock Ferry on the Mersey Railway. 

The remaining units were built by BR in 1956/57 and replaced the Mersey Railway units, some of which dated back to 1903. They were virtually identical to the LMS trains, a tribute to a design that was by then already eighteen years old. The only significant changes were in electrical equipment and traction motors. Included in the build were four vehicles, two trailers and two driving trailers to replace coaches destroyed by an air raid in 1941.

The units then settled into a routine existence, working between Liverpool Central and the Wirral for the next twenty-five years or so. Liveries changed over the years, from LMS red through two types of BR green, through to plain blue and finally blue and grey for all the units bar one. The units also gained communicating doors in the cabs and coach ends for working over the new single track Liverpool Loop tunnel opened in 1977. At the same time, a number of units from the BR batch also worked on the Northern Line, usually between Garston and Kirkby until all the new class 507s were in service. The last such use was in 1981.

Apart from the four coaches destroyed in the war, there were no withdrawals until 1980. The first to go was unit 28683, whose motor car was gutted by a serious fire at West Kirby on the 26 June of that year. The following year, the sets loaned to the Northern Line were returned and five LMS sets were stored. Four of them never ran again, while the fifth (28672) was converted to a sandite train and ran across the network over the following winters. This was finally withdrawn in December 1984.

By 1983, the replacement class 508s displaced from the Southern region were already working on the Northern Line. The first 508 to work on the Wirral was in June 1984, and serious withdrawals began. By August, seventeen were dumped at Cavendish sidings in Birkenhead awaiting scrapping, including the four units stored in 1981/82. All these sets at were cut up by January 1985. The 508 invasion was now in full force, and by the start of 1985, only five sets, all from the BR batch, were left in service. The final services were operated on 29 March, with BR sets 28371 and 28394 at work in the morning peak and LMS units 28680 and 28690 working the very last services of all in the evening. All four sets were then used on the farewell railtour on 13 April 1985. 

One set, LMS unit 28690 was destined to be preserved. On 06 April 1986, resplendent in LMS red, it ran several shuttles between Birkenhead North, Liverpool and Rock Ferry. It was used occasionally until 1988 when a lack of spares forced its withdrawal. It then spent a number of years in storage at Birkenhead Central shed. The intention was for it to be displayed at Birkenhead museum, but a change of plan saw only driving trailer 29289 being so treated. The other two vehicles were put up for sale and ran the risk of being scrapped. Fortunately, the Suburban Electric Railway Association bought the two vehicles, which are now kept at Coventry Railway Centre. In October 2003, SERA also acquired 29289, so all three vehicles now reside at Coventry. 

 To see a video of the last workings, click below:









 

Unit Formations, formed Driving Motor, Trailer, Driving Trailer.

Formations tended to remain the same.
 

LMS units                                                                                                        

28672  29702  29271                 28679  29709  29278                    28685  29715  29284
28673  29703  29272                 28680  29710  29279                    28686  29716  29285
28674  29704  29273                 28681  29711  29280                    28687  29717  29286*

28675  29705  29274                 28682  29712  29281                    28688  29718  29287
28676  29706  29275                 28683  29713  29282                    28689  29719  29288
28677  29707  29276                 28684  29714  29283                    28690  29720  29289
28678  29708  29277*                                                                      

*29708, 29277, 29717 & 29286 were destroyed by an air raid on12th/13 March 1941.They were replaced by new coaches 29831, 29155 and 29832, 29156 in July 1956.
 

BR units                                                                                     

28371  29843  29140                 28379  29824  29145                    28387  29846  29153
28372  29841  29132                 28380  29825  29135                    28388  29829  29133
28373  29838  29131                 28381  29837  29142                    28389  29833  29136
28374  29845  29137                 28382  29826  29147                    28390  29830  29154
28375  29821  29138                 28383  29840  29150                    28391  29827  29148
28376  29822  29146                 28384  29828  29151                    28392  29834  29143
28377  29823  29139                 28385  29839  29152                    28393  29835  29144
28378  29844  29134                 28386  29842  29149                    28394  29836  29141



Historical Data                                                                          

Unit         Entered     W/d from
No.             Service      Service       
                                                                                          

28672               13.03.38    04.11.81
28673               13.03.38    07.07.84
28674               13.03.38    12.05.82
28675               13.03.38    25.01.84
28676               13.03.38    16.07.84
28677               13.03.38    20.07.84
28678               13.03.38    03.09.84
28679               13.03.38    02.11.81
28680               13.03.38    29.03.85
28681               13.03.38    14.03.84
28682               13.03.38    04.11.81
28683               13.03.38    28.06.80
28684               13.03.38    04.04.84
28685               13.03.38    16.07.84
28686               13.03.38    13.05.82
28687               13.03.38    25.07.84
28688               13.03.38    14.08.84
28689               13.03.38    19.10.83
28690               13.03.38    29.03.85
28371               09.09.56    29.03.85
28372               19.08.56    26.02.85

28373               28.08.56    20.02.85
28374               28.08.56    09.11.83
28375               19.08.56    27.09.84
28376               09.09.56    09.11.84
28377               20.09.56    24.12.84
28378               11.10.56    05.12.84
28379               20.09.56    15.12.84
28380               01.10.56    12.01.84
28381               20.10.56    20.12.84
28382               20.10.56    01.10.84
28383               02.11.56    12.09.84
28384               02.11.56    12.09.84
28385               16.11.56    04.12.84
28386               16.11.56    25.06.84
28387               14.12.56    05.12.84
28388               11.01.57    19.10.84
28389               11.01.57    25.06.84
28390               30.01.57    03.04.84
28391               08.03.57    15.12.84
28392               13.02.57    25.02.85
28393               11.02.57    05.12.84
28394               31.05.57    29.03.85



Class 503 Disposal


UNIT     DATE CUT      LOCATION                             CONTRACTOR

23871      12/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
29843      12/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
29140      12/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
 

28372      10/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
29841      10/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
29132      12/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
 

28373      10/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
29838      10/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
29131      10/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
 

28374      16/12/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead              V Berry
29845      30/11/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead              V Berry
29137      29/11/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead              V Berry
 

28375      10/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29821      10/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29138      10/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
 

28376      04/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29822      05/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29146      04/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
 

28377      04/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward

29823      03/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29139      02/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward

 
28378      06/85               Northwich                                               V Berry
29844      06/85               Northwich                                               V Berry
29134      06/85               Northwich                                               V Berry
 

28379      05/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29824      05/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29145      05/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
 

28380      16/12/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29825      11/12/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29135      11/12/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
 

28381      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29837      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29142      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
 


28382      06/85               Northwich                                               V Berry
29826      06/85               Northwich                                               V Berry
29147      06/85               Northwich                                               V Berry
 

28383      12/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29840      12/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29150      12/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
 

28384      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29828      02/86               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29151      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
 

28385      05/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29839      05/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29152      05/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward          

 

28386      20/12/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29842      18/12/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29149      09/12/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
 

28387      03/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29846      03/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29153      02/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
 

28388      02/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29829      02/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
29133      02/86               Mollington Street, Birkenhead                 TW Ward
 

28389      21/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29833      22/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29136      04/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry

 

28390      06/12/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29830      07/12/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29154      08/12/84          Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry

 
28391     12/85 - 04/86    Mollington Street, Birkenhead                TW Ward
29827     12/85 - 06/86    Mollington Street, Birkenhead                TW Ward
29148     12/85 - 06/86    Mollington Street, Birkenhead                TW Ward
 

28392      09/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29834      09/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29143      09/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
 

28393      06/85               Northwich                                               V Berry
29835      06/85               Northwich                                               V Berry
29144      06/85               Northwich                                               V Berry
 

28394      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29836      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
29141      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                      V Berry
 

28672      10/85              Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
29702      10/85              Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
29271      10/85              Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
 


28673      12/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead                V Berry
29703      11/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead                V Berry
29272      10/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead                V Berry
 

28674      19/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29704      14/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29273      20/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
 

28675      10/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29705      07/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29274      05/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
 

28676      21/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29706      27/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29275      28/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry



28677      12/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29707      14/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29276      02/01/85         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
 

28678      06/85              Northwich                                               V Berry
29831      06/85              Northwich                                               V Berry
29155      06/85              Northwich                                               V Berry
 

28679      18/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29709      17/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29278      15/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry 



28680      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
29710      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
29279      11/85               Alexandra Dock, Liverpool                       V Berry
 


28681      03/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29711      22/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29280      21/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
 

28682      26/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29712      28/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29281      28/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry

 

28683      10/03/82         BREL Horwich
29713      10/03/82         BREL Horwich
29282      10/03/82         BREL Horwich

 

28684      29/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29714      01/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29283      02/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
 

28685      30/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29715      29/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29284      29/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
 

28686      04/10/83         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               HP Cartwright
29716      29/09/83         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               HP Cartwright
29285      22/09/85         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               HP Cartwright

 
28687      22/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29832      17/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29156      11/12/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
 

28688      06/85              Northwich                                                  V Berry
29718      06/85              Northwich                                                  V Berry
29287      06/85              Northwich                                                  V Berry
 

28689      29/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29719      15/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
29288      16/11/84         Cavendish Sidings, Birkenhead               V Berry
 

Notes

28672: Used as sandite unit after initial withdrawal in 1981, departmental number 977115 allocated to car 29702 but never carried, withdrawn again 06/12/84

28683: Withdrawn after sustaining fire damage at West Kirby 28/06/80

28686:  Recovered from storage for use in civil exercise at Moorfields 19/06/83

 

Information obtained from final railtour brochure, Rail Enthusiast magazine, and email from Steve Panter
 

My Class 503 Site