London

Steam train to return to London Underground

  • 24 October 2012
  • From the section London
Met Locomotive No. 1
Met Locomotive No. 1 was sold for scrap after retiring from service in 1963

When the first London Tube journey took place 150 years ago long queues formed at each of the seven stations from Paddington to Farringdon.

London Transport Museum said about 40,000 people had travelled on the inaugural day.

And within six months 26,000 people were using it every day.

To mark the historic event in 1863 Transport for London (TfL) is putting together a commemorative service which will retrace the journey on 13 January.

All four components of the special train, which during their lifetimes ran on the Metropolitan Line, have interesting tales.

An 1898-built steam engine, known as Met Locomotive No. 1, will pull the carriages.

Rescued by enthusiasts

It is one of the last surviving of its kind but was sold for scrap after being the highlight of the Tube centenary celebrations in 1963.

The unwanted engine was bought by the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre in 1964, but it took another 20 years for enthusiasts from Quainton Railway Society to restore it.

Adrian Aylward, manager for the centre, said: "The main challenge was raising the money and work had to be done on the weekends by a team of volunteers."

The Jubilee carriage is the oldest surviving operational Tube coach

Mr Aylward said they were very proud the engine would herald the 150th year.

Linked to the engine will be the oldest surviving operational Tube carriage, the Metropolitan Railway Jubilee Carriage 353 which was built in 1892.

After its retirement in 1905 the first-class coach was sold to the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway.

But after the line closed in 1940, Tim Shields, curator at London Transport Museum, said it went on to be used as a shop, a clubhouse for US servicemen, a home and a farm outbuilding.

In 1974 it was saved for the London Transport collection.

The Chesham carriages ran on the Chesham branch of the Metropolitan Line

During its many reincarnations its interiors were altered several times.

A restoration team at Ffestiniog Railway workshops in Porthmadog, North Wales, had to rely on photographs and drawings to recreate the fixtures.

Attached to the Jubilee carriage in January will be set of four carriages that date back to 1898.

Known as the Chesham carriages, they began service in 1899 when the Chesham branch of the Metropolitan Line opened.

After featuring in the centenary celebrations with the steam engine, the coaches were sold to the Bluebell Railway Society where they continue to run on heritage tours.

'Cooking toast'

Completing the commemorative train is one of the world's oldest electric locomotives in service - No. 12 Sarah Siddons.

Named after a renowned 18th Century actress who lived in Baker Street, it is one of the world's oldest working electric locomotives.

Built in 1922, it was introduced to the network in 1923 to take passengers to Watford, Uxbridge and Rickmansworth.

Andy Barr, Heritage Operations Manager for TfL, said: "Sarah would pull the train from Baker Street up to Rickmansworth where she would be uncoupled and a steam locomotive would come on to the front. They would recouple in four minutes and carry on.

"Because of its live electrical system drivers would switch on the power in the grids and cook toast."

Since being decommissioned in 1960 it has been used to tow vehicles and runs on special tours.

John Campbell, lead engineer for the project, said: "I have known about Sarah Siddons since I was an apprentice at the age of 16. So having Sarah here and actually working on her is truly exciting."

The locomotive is being refitted with vacuum brakes to enable it to tow the steam engine and carriages.

TfL said the special steam train to commemorate the first Tube journey will carry up to 300 people and run between Olympia and Moorgate, a slightly longer journey than the original route.

Mr Barr said: "They [passengers] are going to have coach doors that open, they are going to have steam coming down through the windows and they are really going to feel as though they are travelling back in the 1890s."

Mike Brown, LU's managing director, said: "London Underground has always played a hugely important role in the success of our city - from the growth of the early network which led to the expansion of the suburbs in the last century, to the development of Canary Wharf's financial powerhouse in the 80s, and on to today's system which successfully moved record numbers of people during the Queen's Jubilee and London 2012 Games."

Special events will be held throughout next year to mark the 150 year anniversary.

As well as heritage rail trips on the network, disused Aldwych station will be transformed into a stage for shows.

The Royal Mint will also mark the landmark with new £2 coins.

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