On a balmy August day, our restored Carriage 353 again took to the tracks behind Met Loco No.1 to take expectant visitors back in time at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.
Introduced in 1887, No.353 is the only surviving example from a class of 59 carriages specially designed to work on the steam routes which comprised London’s transport network. These carriages were known as ‘Jubilee Stock’ in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Those who took their luxuriously upholstered seats on this beautifully restored example of a late Victorian Metropolitan Railway carriage were suitably impressed.
Asked for their favourite aspect of the ‘Jubilee’ carriage, travellers simply replied that it was the fact one of these carriages, the only surviving example, actually existed. They said it was a truly exciting privilege to have the opportunity to create times gone by and ride on something that people over one hundred years ago were using in the age of steam.
Sitting in one of the carriage’s elegantly dressed compartments, the most surprising thing about 353 for nearly everybody asked was the sheer quality of the restoration. They noted the wonderful detail that had been included, like the elaborate MR emblems. One passenger even celebrated the slightly hard ride as an authentic example of the conditions our predecessors would have experienced! The expert paintwork, gleaming in the summer sun, and rich velvet seating, along with the shiny bronze door handles, were all pointed out by riders as evidence of a really high quality restoration.
For some, the restored Carriage 353 is so fascinating because they have held a life-long interest in railways, or specifically the Metropolitan Railway upon which it used to run. The consensus seemed to be that it provides a tangible link to our heritage, showing us, with great authenticity, how our railways used to look, and how our ancestors used to travel. Nostalgia certainly plays a large part in 353’s attraction, taking us back to the days when the Metropolitan was run entirely by steam.
Whether it was nostalgia, admiration or astonishment, everyone was in complete agreement about one thing: that they had thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to have a ride on Carriage 353 as part of a great day out at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.
Written by William Cooper, LTM Marketing and Development Intern