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To the uninitiated, the reign of the Southern Region diesel-electric multiple-unit sets in public service - the fleet comprising the various 'Hastings', 'Hampshire', 'Berkshire', 'Oxted' and 'Tadpole' variants - lasted around 47 years, from their introduction in 1957 to their final demise in 2004. On the surface this was a creditable achievement, especially as they were conceived as little more than a stopgap, an interim stage of motive power between steam and the planned electrification. The Southern Railway had been slowly extending its electrified network to cover the various main routes throughout the 1930s and this was to continue during the 1950s and 1960s. Whilst this was cost effective on the heavily used main line and suburban services there were a number of lines that would not support the investment, or were under threat of closure such as the Mid-Hants line from Alton to Winchester and the Swanage branch. As with all generalisations there was an exception - the London to Hastings line. Heavily used, and requiring modernisation, it could not accommodate standard-size rolling stock - due to limited clearances along the route. The result was a 'slim line' DEMU, with slab-sided vehicles. As the routes over which they operated were either electrified or closed, the units gradually saw their duties change and the classes were gradually withdrawn. A number, however, survived into the era of Privatisation and into the 21st century. Acquiring cult status amongst enthusiasts, a number have survived into preservation (many courtesy of the generosity of Porterbrook who donated a number to preservation schemes).