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The Calder Valley Class 110 DMU

The class 110 Diesel Multiple Units were built specially for Calder Valley services  in 1961 by Birmingham RC&W.  They were high horsepower having two 180 hp Rolls Royce engines per power car or 720 hp per 3 car set.

In later years many were reduced to 2 car sets by removal of the trailer car (in 1983), making them into the dmus with the highest power/weight ratio on the whole of BR.

Their interior appointments were superior to the other types.   Twenty were based at Bradford Hammerton Street and ten at Newton Heath.    Later all the class worked out of Hammerton Street.  At peak times some trains were formed of two three car sets i.e. six cars.    A ride in the rear (first class) section of a 110 on the 5.8pm from Leeds which ran non-stop from Halifax to Rochdale was entertaining as it whipped round the curves.
    Because they were a bit superior they were in demand for other services in Yorkshire which resulted in units like class 103 Metropolitan Cammels and even 105 Cravens  turning up on Calder Valley services.   Other classes such as 108s were not unknown  --  these were two cars but longer vehicles and at one time there was a Calder Valley train which started from Hull and went on to Blackpool.   This was in winter when the daily Bradford-Blackpool  via Copy Pit was not running.   It was due at Rochdale at 0930 and was always heavily overloaded.       In a panic over costs West Yorkshire PTE agreed to some smaller 2 car sets being derated to one engine per car known as class 78's.  They could barely stagger up the hill from Bradford but fortunately did not have to tackle Miles Platting bank as they used the Cheetham Hill Loop, part of which is now the route of the Metrolink line.    On one famous occasion Margaret Thatcher had to take a Calder Valley train from Bradford to Leeds as a heavy snowstorm closed all the roads.   History does not record which class of mu was involved but it was not a 78.
The maximum length of a class 110 dmu train was 12 cars.  On occasions the Leeds-Bradford-Blackpool was 12 cars on summer Saturdays.   Another 12 car set was observed taking the Oldham Loop line on a Holiday week return extra from North Wales.
One thing we all miss from the days of the first generation dmus of course is being able to sit behind the driver with a clear view ahead.   Even if sometimes it meant having to purchase a first class ticket.


A selection of class 110s is in the gallery including one

of a 2 x 3 car with original front whiskers at Hall Royd Junction, Todmorden, eastbound.  1030 Liverpool Exchange-Harrogate on 17 July 1965.  Note Stanier 8F in background on Copy Pit banker duties.


Ian Holt & Richard S Greenwood



Contact Information


Meeting Place: Woolworths Social Club
Gipsy Lane
OL11 3HA

Meeting times


2nd Tuesday in Feb, April, June, August, Oct and December,in The Blue Pits Inn, 842 Manchester Road, Castleton, Rochdale, OL11 2SP