3R (Class 206) "Tadpole" DEMUs

When in 1964 the time came for the Southern Region to replace steam hauled stock on the Reading to Tonbridge service the SR turned to its tradition of recycling rolling stock. Three Hastings 6S (class 201) DEMU units were disbanded releasing six motor brake second saloons and six trailer open seconds which were then mated to adapted driving trailers from BR design 2EPB units to form six 3R (R for Reading/Redhill) class 206 DEMU units. The EPB driving trailers had three compartments in their non driving end converted into a luggage compartment.

Because of the visible difference between the narrow width of the ex-Hastings stock and the standard width of the ex-EPB trailer these units rapidly became nicknamed "Tadpoles", a name which stuck throughout their working life. The remaining passenger accommodation in the EPB trailer was usually locked out of use.

1204 The difference in body width between the ex Hastings DEMU and ex 2EPB vehicles can clearly be seen in this picture of unit 1204 taken south of East Croydon station on 8th October 1972.

photograph by David Smith

In 1979 four Tadpoles units were disbanded. One 6S unit was reinstated and the EPB driving trailers were used to convert the remaining 2 car Hampshire DEMU units (2H) to 3 cars (3T/class 204) albeit with the intermediate driving cab out of use in their formation.

"Heritage" DMUs from the Western region replaced the Tadpoles on Reading to Tonbridge services, and in turn they were eventually replaced by class 165/166 DMU units of Thames Trains.

Class 206 Tadpole unit 1201 arriving at Betchworth......

photograph by Ray Soper

1201 ......and leaving a few moments later. The difference in the widths of the two leading coaches and the last coach is very apparent in this picture.

photograph by Ray Soper

Class 206 Tadpole Unit 206101, in BR blue and grey livery, arrives at Three Oaks with a train from Ashford to Hastings in August 1987. The original double track formation is clearly visible in this photograph, with the second platform still in situ.

photograph by Keith Harwood

1309 A tadpole at Uckfield. Unit Nº1309 waits in the platform during February 1986. The train is the 9:41 a.m. East Croydon to Eastbourne, which was really a positioning run for stock from the East Grinstead/Uckfield line on its way to St Leonards for servicing. It was discontinued with the East Grinstead electrification in 1987.

photograph by Mark Westcott

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