Poster of the Week: Extension of the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow

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Extension of the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow, Tom Eckersley, 1971

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This week’s poster, Extension of the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow by Tom Eckersley, commemorates an important milestone in the history of the Tube. On Dec 16th, 1977 the Heathrow extension was opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth II with the words “I now have great pleasure in declaring the extension formally open and wishing success to those who will manage the line and those who will travel on it.” She followed in the footsteps of her great-grandfather Edward the VII (HRH The Prince of Wales at the time) who opened the Central Line “tuppenny tube” in 1890, called this because of its flat two-penny fare regardless of destination.

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Queen in interior of Piccadilly line 1973 tube stock, 1977

The Heathrow Extension offered direct access to the international airport from central London in just 40 minutes and for just 80p. It was the cheapest, quickest, and most direct way to reach the airport, beating out a £1 bus shuttle and £5.10 taxi ride. Prior to the extension, travelers who took the Tube would take a shuttle bus from Hatton Cross direct to the airport tarmac. The new extension, which was in the works for over 30 years, helped to liberate Londoners with quick and easy access to international travel via the new Heathrow Central Station.

Eckersley’s poster was in use on the network from 1971 to promote the project, and its style set the tone for the look and feel of the extension.  It is crisp and colourful, sleek and chic, and cleverly shows the Roundel supporting the graphic of the Tube line extension. The Heathrow Extension and the new station, in the middle of the airport complex, was the height of technological and design innovation. The new Tube trains featured the popular ‘Straub’ moquette. Designed by Marianne Straub, a contemporary textile designer and member of the well-known artist community of Great Bardfield in Essex, which also included the illustrators Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, this moquette was sharp and chic in blues and greens and was extremely popular with the public and widely used on the transport network.  The new Heathrow Central Station also featured a mural from Eckersley, which refined the design of an airplane to a sleek and simple four-colour graphic. There was a new, and quite imposing, automatic ticket machine in the station, which employed early computer technology to allow travelers to book their own journey without having to go to the ticket office. The station also featured new moving payments, aptly named “travelators” and computer assistance for underground routes in several languages.

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Tail fin Mural designed by Tom Eckersley

The extension was a great success, but innovation hasn’t stopped there as travelers are always looking for faster and better ways to get to their destination. In 1988 Heathrow Express opened with a new and improved solution, traveling from Paddington Station to Heathrow in just 15 minutes. A key part of this service is the top fleet of Heathrow Express trains, kept in top shape by Siemens, which is responsible for 24 hours a day, 365 days per year full-maintenance service of the fleet including overhaul and refurbishment.  The 16,000 passengers travelling each day on Heathrow Express journeys are now assured of a premium travel experience, thanks to the recent completion of a £16million, 20-month project of fleet transformation by Heathrow Express in partnership with Siemens and Railcare. The Heathrow Express has carried over 60 million people since 1988 and in the last decade, its energy-efficient trains have saved enough energy to boil 400 million kettles.

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The experimental press-button Passenger Route Indicator machine

Tom Eckersley’s work helped to define the style of London Transport, designing posters, station decoration, and graphics for timetables, events, and on-board information signage for buses and tube trains for an astonishing 60 years (1935-1995). His work was quite prolific and helped shape the style of the times. In addition to the vast amounts of work he did for London Transport he also worked other public and private agencies including BBC, Shell, the Ministry of Information, and the General Post Office. He is perhaps best know for his bright and colourful tile designs that decorate the platforms along the Victoria Line which Londoners still love today.

The poster Extension of the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow by Tom Eckersley is particularly appealing and has been a favorite for many years with audiences. It has been consistently in print and a top request in the London Transport Museum Shop.

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Written by Susannah Pegg-Harmel, Commercial Projects Manager

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National Autistic Society Project – Carriage 353: Volunteer Perspective

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Volunteers are integral to everything we do here at the Museum.  Gabby Brent is just one of many people who give up their time to assist in the running of the Museum. He is also a member of the National Autistic Society and he, along with five other members of the Society, was given the opportunity to take part in one of a number of community learning projects the Museum is undertaking to celebrate both the restoration of Metropolitan ‘Jubilee’ Carriage 353 and the Underground’s 150th anniversary.

Gabby kindly agreed to speak to me about his experience of this particular project. More information can be found here but as a brief overview Gabby and the other participants took part in a two and a half day creative learning project exploring the restored Victorian Carriage 353, and related subjects and themes, through the use of drawing, applique and embroidery techniques.  By the end, each participant ended up with a beautiful felt depiction of Carriage 353.

Participants drew up plans based on a particular theme relating to 353, and choose particular materials for their artwork. Having done all that, they had to cut and stick materials to produce their panel. Gabby’s theme was the comparison between old and new, and he produced a wonderful piece of work contrasting Carriage 353 and the new S-Stock now running on the Metropolitan Line. Gabby was understandably very proud of what he had produced.

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Asked for his favourite thing about the project, Gabby noted that he particularly liked drawing both old and new versions of Metropolitan Line trains. He enjoyed putting the drawings side by side to evaluate the ways transport has progressed over the last 150 years. He also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the history of the Underground, thanks to a Museum tour given by our Visitor Services Manager Michael Dipre and generally exploring around the galleries. There was also a fascinating video showing the history of Carriage 353, from a first class carriage working on the Metropolitan Railway prior to 1900, through to its use as a garden shed, and finally its restoration.

Gabby enjoyed the format of the project, having to work in teams to discuss the history of London Underground, and also debating its future. The group atmosphere was really friendly, with everyone getting on well together. A highlight was the chance to dress up in old London Transport uniforms. It was great fun, and Gabby personally learnt that the style of the hats that people wore many years ago is still the style used today!

Unlike the other participants, Gabby also volunteers at London Transport Museum. He helps with school trip bookings and craft projects, such as creating station models for London Underground. He has volunteered since 2011 but has visited since the 1990s. Museums are a great passion of his and we are very lucky to have his help here.

When asked for his general thoughts on the project, Gabby made it clear that he had really enjoyed himself. He got on well with his fellow participants, loved learning about the Underground and Carriage 353, enjoyed the dressing up, and was proud of his felt artwork. A pretty good couple of days, I’d say!

Written by William Cooper, Marketing & Development Intern

 

National Autistic Society Project – Carriage 353 Community Project

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As part of the Carriage 353 restoration and learning project, a diverse range of community activities have been taking place over the past few months. In August, the National Autistic Society (NAS) took the chance to get involved in the celebrations. Six members of the society participated in a two and a half day creative project exploring the restored Victorian Metropolitan Railway Carriage 353, and related subjects and themes, through the use of drawing, applique and embroidery techniques. London Transport Museum (LTM) was the setting for the event which was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days for all involved.

The fun began with the screening of a fascinating film outlining the life of Carriage 353, from its use in the late nineteenth century on the Metropolitan Line, to its life as a garden shed, and finally to its recent restoration. It was then time to explore some of the themes of Victorian travel and the history of the Capital through consideration of some the Museum’s objects. For example, participants had the opportunity to get dressed up in old uniforms which helped bring our transport forebears, and their work, to life.

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Up next was an engaging tour by our Visitor Services Manager Michael Dipre. Everyone got a real feel for Victorian travel by sitting in former Metropolitan Railway carriages, an important reference point for the creative activities to be undertaken later in the day.

These activities centred on the creation of a fabric artwork depicting Carriage 353. Each participant chose a particular area of interest with regard to Carriage 353 on which to base their artwork, and created a detailed drawing, with a view to turning them into fabric pieces. Different fabrics and their textures were examined, with participants picking out suitable materials. Using fabric pens they then created an outline, before cutting out the pieces to collage together and create a fabric interpretation of their chosen theme. These then needed to be sewn together onto a calico panel.

Although everyone had some experience of sewing, a quick refresher was provided and soon they began appliqueing their fabric panels. Certainly a challenging task, the group showed impressive skills to embroider their panels.

The fabric panels display different aspects of Carriage 353 – its interior and exterior, and the contrast between the old carriages and new ones. These will be put together horizontally in a train-like fashion, with each panel resembling a carriage and will be exhibited in a touring exhibition, ending at LTM early next year.

It was certainly a thought-provoking activity and different participants had varying highlights. For Oke it was the drawing, whereas for James it was learning about the history of the carriage. For Gabby, it was the contrast between old and new that fascinated him the most.

The whole group took a great deal of care in their work, and worked extremely hard. They were rightly proud of what they had produced, and took time to admire the work of their peers. For some, the project showed them that they possessed some impressive creative skills they never believed they had!

Overall, everyone had a great time and enjoyed the chance to meet new people and get creative. The group made it clear that they can’t wait to come back together in the autumn for a tour of the Metropolitan Railway Carriage 353, when it will have returned to the LTM depot in Acton from its most recent adventures. Proud of their fabric artworks, they are also keen to bring their friends, family and colleagues to see their final pieces being exhibited both locally to the NAS, in the autumn of 2013, and at the London Transport Museum in early 2014.

Written by William Cooper, Marketing & Development Intern

Poster of the Week: Quickly away, thanks to pneumatic doors

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Quickly away, thanks to pneumatic doors, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1937

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This week is the London Design Festival, the annual event that celebrates great design with a flurry of events and exhibitions around London. Design means different things to different people; it may mean the way something looks, or the way something functions, or a combination of the two. This week’s poster, Quickly Away, thanks to Pneumatic Doors by Laszlo Maholy-Nagy, 1937, can be examined in two ways, both for its striking modern appearance as well as for the innovative technology that it illustrates. It is a testament to the defining role of design and technology in the modern era.

Laszlo Maholy-Nagy was a Hungarian-born artist who first gained notoriety as a Constructivist painter but is best known for his involvement in the Bauhaus school in Germany (1919-1933). The Bauhaus is known for its great contribution to early 20th century design, aesthetics, and craft. It was founded on the principles set out by the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain in the late 19th century; that objects should be both useful and beautiful, that the life of the maker should be sustained by the things that he makes, and that design should be approached holistically to create complete environments which aim to improve the lives of the inhabitants. The Bauhaus adapted these ideals for the modern age, using new techniques and materials to create furnishings and buildings for a post-Great War society.  Maholy-Nagy moved from Dadaist circles in Berlin to the Bauhaus School in Weimar in 1923 to teach the foundations course and serve as the head of the school’s metalworking department. He made a significant impact to the ideals of the school though his approach to combining photography and typography which he named ‘typophoto’. He recognized photography as a ‘productive’ medium, not just a tool for reproduction and documentation but an artistic medium worthy of consideration and experimentation, and he instigated this change of view at the Bauhaus. In 1928 he resigned from the Bauhaus and moved to Berlin where he began to work as a commercial artist, typographer, and independent curator.

Moholy-Nagy and others from the school including the founder, Walter Gropius, immigrated to London in 1935 where they hoped to open a new Bauhaus but failed to secure financial backing. At this time design was at the forefront of London Transport’s activities under the guidance of Frank Pick, with dramatic changes made in the 1920’s including the universal adoption of the modern Johnston font, Harry Beck’s diagrammatic map, the roundel, new architectural commissions, and artistic poster commissions that established the Underground as one of the first holistic and modern corporate identities.

Quickly Away, thanks to Pneumatic Doors was commissioned by London Transport in 1937 to illustrate the new doors on the Tube. The last manual doors on Tube trains were fully replaced with automatic ‘slam doors’ by 1929. Pneumatic doors were a 1930’s innovation that used air vacuum technology to open and close the doors. By using a simple enclosed air vacuum chamber, the air-engine arms were pulled back to open when the chamber was pressurised and a vacuum created, and then when released the doors would close slowly. These doors replaced the more forceful ‘slam doors’ which, as they sound, were not very pleasant to passengers and posed a safety risk. The new doors were more pleasant and also served as an automated safety check, as the train could not be signalled to start unless all doors were closed, and the poster served to enforce London Transport’s commitment to safety. Maholy-Nagy was quite taken with the role of new technologies. In his own words: ‘The reality of our century is technology: the invention, construction and maintenance of machines. To be a user of machines is to be of the spirit of this century. Machines have replaced the transcendal (sic) spiritualism of past eras.’

The pneumatic technology is simply, elegantly illustrated in the poster. Maholy-Nagy employs his trademark style to provide the information needed to understand the technology through text and image in a graphically pleasing and colourful design.  One can imagine rushing by the poster on the way to catch an approaching train, just seeing it at a glance, and noticing its colourful and balanced composition of yellow, green, and black – simple colours and bold lines which had dominated the Bauhaus approach. On the other hand, with time to spare waiting for the last train to come, one would have had the time to take in all of the information provided and fully understand the technology, as the design concisely explains it.

After working in London for just two years, Maholy-Nagy moved to Chicago in late 1937 to open the New Bauhaus School of Design, which was reorganised as the Institute of Design and still exists today as part of the Illinois Institute of Technology. His work through the school influenced an entire generation of architects and designers.

Written by Susannah Pegg-Harmel, Commercial Projects Manager

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353 Goes Far East!

353 goes far East? Well certainly about as far East as it could and still claim London Underground legitimacy. The restoration of Metropolitan carriage no.353 to its former glory was a significant investment, and the Museum was helped out by a generous grant from the Lottery Heritage Fund. In recognition of this help, the carriage has been used at a number of events in 2013 at which the public can both see it and take a ride in its stunning first class interior.

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Hence on an early Saturday morning in July I found myself stood next to 353 on the platform of North Weald station of the heritage Epping and Ongar Railway, which was until 1994 part of London Transport’s Central Line. The Epping and Ongar Railway had organised an Underground 150 event as its contribution to this year’s celebrations.

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Truth be told, in my concern not to be late, I actually arrived a bit too early, just as the station was opening. Consequently I was treated to a happy hour or so watching while the trains for the day were formed up; it was a highly nostalgic image of what I would imagine a sleepy early morning in the summer on a steam secondary line must have been like.

The nostalgia quotient was piled on as a brace of Country Area RTs and a couple of RFs arrived on the apron outside the station, ready to run the shuttles bringing passengers from Epping station.

However, I wasn’t in deepest Essex to wallow in the past. For a change I was actually making myself useful and I spent the day acting as the steward on 353. This meant looking after the carriage, to make sure that nothing untoward happened to it. Just as importantly, I was also on hand to ensure that the public safely enjoyed their day and were able to understand a little bit about the history and restoration of 353. At this point I also have to mention the Epping and Ongar’s volunteers, who I found to be immensely friendly and helpful.

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So I spent a very happy day trundling to and fro through the summer countryside, in a train consisting of Metropolitan loco no. 1, carriage 353 and a “Dreadnought” carriage. I think it would be a fair reflection to say that a good time was had by all! (But especially me……)

Dave Olney, Volunteer

Royal Academy at the Depot

It will be apparent to most of you familiar with the Museum and this blog that posters are an important part of the Underground150 celebrations. It will also be apparent to regular readers of the volunteers’ blog that the vast majority of the Museum’s collection is actually kept at the Acton Depot. This is especially true for posters, with tens of thousands dating back over 100 years or so to the early part of the 20th century. Also at Acton Depot is a smaller collection of original artworks that were created in the production of the posters; however this numbers in the hundreds rather than the thousands.

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Recently I was lucky enough to join a private tour of the two collections organised for the Friends of the Royal Academy, guided by two of the Museum’s volunteers, Tom Cavanagh and John Dodd. I had keenly anticipated the event, being very interested in the poster collection myself. I also expected some illuminating questions and conversation, given the knowledge and interests of our guests.

I wasn’t disappointed on either count. Both John and Tom gave well informed and interesting tours of both collections, visiting them in turn with a group of ten or so. They entertained us with an excellent knowledge and understanding of the collection, and were able to pull out relevant and interesting items that engaged the groups. I was particularly impressed with John’s discourse on lithography! Not all the original artwork is painted – the collection includes collage, mosaic and stencil as well as the water colours, oils, etc. that one might expect.

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It was also interesting to note that none of the visitors had a particular interest in transport; proof (if it were needed) that the Museum’s collections can appeal to a surprisingly wide audience. And what better way to learn about it than in the hands of an enthusiastic volunteer?

Dave Olney, Volunteer

Poster of the Week: Simply nightlife by Tube and bus

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Simply nightlife by Tube and bus, Dan Fern, 1998

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In the 17th century Samuel Pepys wrote “when one is tired of London, one is tired of life.” With countless opportunities for going out, eating out and having fun it’s still true today.

Entertainment in London has provided an endless array of vibrant and enticing subjects for transport posters. Many have aimed to encourage travel to the city in the evenings and at weekends. Others have encouraged regular commuters to stay in the city after work, rather than travelling home at rush hour, thereby managing demand on the system.

Trends in leisure are also reflected in London’s transport posters. This week’s Poster of the Week, produced in 1998 by Dan Fern, ex-Professor of Graphic Art at the Royal College of Art, draws on the popularity of the 90s House superclubs. A closer look reveals a collage of encounters during a night out – a DJ mixing records, a crowd dancing and a night bus.

London’s nightlife is now more diverse than ever – for the achingly hip Dalston or Shoreditch are the places to see and be seen, the rich and famous can be found in the trendy up-market bars of Chelsea and Notting Hill, and around the Angel tube station you’ll find plenty of ‘townie’ type pubs.

Across London, the drinking holes du jour are now speakeasies. Taking inspiration from America’s Prohibition era, you’ll find them hidden in a block of flats and behind unmarked doors and unassuming entrances. Think cocktail menus hidden in books, drinks served in teacups, decor that isn’t all it seems and glamorous dress codes. So remember to take a second look next time you pass a mysterious doorway!

London’s transport has played a huge role in helping the Capital’s nightlife to function and we’re proud to be part of something so lively and exciting!

Written by Tamsin Lancaster, LTM Development Manager

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Poster of the Week: Where is this bower beside the silver Thames?

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Where is this bower beside the silver Thames?, Jean Dupas, 1930

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As the swoosh of skirts, flash of the fashion photographers lenses and clip-clop of heels rings around Somerset House, we are celebrating next week’s opening of London Fashion Week with Jean Dupas’s 1930 poster Where is this bower beside the Silver Thames?. Whilst todays fashion pack navigates the cobblestones of The Strand in six-inch stilettos, Dupas depicted Art Deco dames lounging beside the river Thames. Not unlike the street style blogs that capture the fashion frenzy that peppers the streets of London from September 13th to 17th, Dupas creates a poster which mimics the editorial style of a magazine shoot and combines it with a more natural and authentic surrounding.

Dupas’ style was based on the new precepts of Cubism, creating surreal, idealised landscapes. He won the Prix de Rome (a scholarship for art students) in 1910 and spent two years in Italy where he painted Les Pigeons Blanc. This final painting from his time in Rome was presented at the Salon des Artistes Français (an association of sculptors and artists that holds a yearly exhibition) in 1922 where it received a gold medal and was thought to be the work that established his reputation as a painter. In 1925, he participated in the Grand Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, one of the most heralded exhibitions of all time. Dupas exhibited Les Perruches and, whilst not one of his more famous paintings, it is considered one of the most defining of his career and the Art Deco movement.

Dupas’ women were almost always depicted with elongated necks; almond shaped eyes and cropped hair. In this particular poster the scene is reminiscent of a fashion shoot – the lounging yet posed positions of the figures and the mixture of long gowns and bathing suits emulating what you would expect from a fashion photograph today. This may have been influenced from Dupas’ contributions to Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as the inspiration he drew from one Robert Bridges poems, There is a Hill. Dupas evoked particular imagery from the poem the title of this poster was taken from. For instance, Bridges wrote:

There is a hill beside the silver Thames,
Shady with birch and beech and odorous pine
And brilliant underfoot with thousand gems
Steeply the thickets to his floods decline.
Straight trees in every place
Their thick tops interlace,
And pendent branches trail their foliage fine
Upon his watery face.

This section could have inspired Dupas’ depiction of elongated female, model-esque figures (Straight trees in every place…) in long gowns (…trail their foliage fine…), which in turn evokes the feel of models on the set of a fashion shoot.

This reflects what was happening around the time the poster was produced. Dupas designed posters for the Underground Group and London Transport from 1930-1933, a time when cheaper fabrics such as rayon and the availability of ready-made clothing meant fashion was no longer the privilege of the upper classes. Advertisers were putting more effort into appealing to this expanding female market that were interested and involved in fashion. This is when the adoption of the fashion plate style that Dupas’ poster reflects began, showing stylish women in sumptuous clothing that female consumers would, hopefully, want to emulate. This was also a time when newspapers were dedicating more space to fashion news and events and magazines devoted solely to the topic of fashion were widely available. Dupas depiction of these statuesque women posing in a completely contrasted natural environment is reflective of the current evolution of street style and the spectacle that is Fashion Week. Capturing the beauty of the subject and their distinction from their surrounds is a subtle feature in this particular poster and one that will not go unnoticed next week as the fashion world saunters from show to show.

Written By Keely Quinn and Kirsty Parsons

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Met 1 and the Golden Age of Steam

This weekend you can once again experience the golden age of steam with the return of the newly restored Metropolitan Steam Locomotive No. 1 to the Metropolitan line. A number of journeys will be taking place between Amersham and Harrow-on-the Hill as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations.

In this post we revisit the significance of that first journey in 1863.

London was the largest city in the world by the 1840s, but this rapid growth brought with it serious congestion problems.  The inner city streets were narrow and crowded and the railways could only bring people and goods in to the outer edge of the Capital. A range of proposals to improve matters were rejected until Charles Pearson, City Solicitor, came up with a politically acceptable and commercially viable solution in 1854 – the Metropolitan Railway. The lithograph below shows just one of the rejected proposals – an elevated railway in which carriages would run along the tops of extended verandas attached to buildings at first floor level. Pedestrians and horse-drawn traffic can been seen in the street below.

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The world’s first underground railway opened to the public on 10 January 1863.  The short 3½ mile line connected the mainline stations at Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross to Farringdon, at the edge of the City.  The ‘Met’ was a great success and extensions to both ends of the line soon followed.

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A second underground railway company, the Metropolitan District Railway, opened in 1868.  The intention was that the two companies would work together to form an ‘Inner Circle’, linking all London’s mainline termini.  They soon fell out however, and the Circle was only completed in 1884, after government intervention.

The two companies did co-operate in planning for electrification, but the plans changed when a powerful American businessman, Charles Tyson Yerkes, took over the District.  Under Yerkes, the Inner Circle and District were electrified along American lines by 1905, powered by a new generating station at Lots Road, Chelsea.  Independent as ever, the ‘Met’ built its own power house at Neasden.  Metropolitan electric services reached Harrow in 1908, and extended t Rickmansworth in 1924.  Electrification to Aylesbury was planned as part of the 1935-40 New Works Programme, but the work was interrupted by the Second World War and steam passenger services continued beyond Rickmansworth until 1961.

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Metropolitan Railway Locomotive No.1

Met No. 1 is an E-class engine, designed by T F Clark for use on the Metropolitan Railway’s extension lines’ north of Baker Street.  It was the last Metropolitan loco to be built at Neasden Works in 1898.

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The engine was re-numbered London Transport L.44 after 1933, sharing duties on the Chesham branch. It worked the last steam service on this line in July 1960, and the last steam-hauled passenger train in regular service between Rickmansworth and Amersham in September 1961.  After the Metropolitan Centenary celebrations at Neasden in 1963, L.44 was sold to the Quainton Railway Society as a working engine and repainted No.1 once more.

In 2011 London Transport Museum and Buckinghamshire Railway Centre formed a partnership to have Met No.1 overhauled at the Flour Mill Workshops, Gloucestershire ready for the 150th anniversary of the Underground.

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Finished interior – Carriage 353

Metropolitan Railway Carriage No.353

Met carriage No.353 was built in the 1892 by Craven’s of Sheffield.  It is the only surviving example of a Metropolitan Railway first class four-wheeled ‘Jubilee’ carriage.  Withdrawn from service in 1905, it was sold to the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Light Railway in Somerset.  After the Second World War the carriage was used as a clubhouse for American servicemen.  It continued to have an eventful life, being used as a low cost home, an antiques shop and finally a farm outbuilding.  Thankfully the carriage survived long enough to be acquired for the London Transport collection I 1974.

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With financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Friends of the London Transport Museum, Met carriage No.353 has been fully restored to operational condition at the Ffestiniog Railway workshops.

Don’t forget to join in the fun this weekend at Amersham where you can once again experience the golden age of steam!