Category Archives: Project 353

National Autistic Society Project – Carriage 353: Volunteer Perspective


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.


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


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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

Discovering Forgotten Metro-land and Carriage 353

A lovely shot of our two most recent restoration projects - Metropolitan locomotive No.1 and 'Jubilee' Carriage 353 - seen together to celebrate the Underground's 150th anniversary
The Museum’s two most recent restoration projects – Metropolitan locomotive No.1 and ‘Jubilee’ Carriage 353 – seen together to celebrate the Underground’s 150th anniversary

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

Discover Forgotten Metro-land

Metropolitan locomotive No.1 pulling Jubilee Carriage 353 and a couple of Dreadnought carriages on one of its frequent trips along the stretch of line at Quainton Road
Metropolitan locomotive No.1 pulling Jubilee Carriage 353 and a couple of Dreadnought carriages on one of its frequent trips along the stretch of line at Quainton Road

‘Metroland/Beckoned us out to lanes in beechy Bucks’ – Sir John Betjeman

On the 3,4 and 7 August, Buckinghamshire Railway Centre was transported back in time as visitors flocked to a little corner of ‘Metro-land’ to rediscover the delights of a time when steam ruled the railways.

Based at picturesque Quainton Road station, a former outpost of the Metropolitan Railway, the event was a fun-filled extravaganza with a wide variety of family friendly activities to keep people of all ages fully entertained.

The highlight was undoubtedly the appearance of Met Loco No.1 and Jubilee Carriage 353 in full working order, both beautifully restored with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund and London Transport Museum friends in celebration of the Underground’s 150th anniversary. Enthusiasts and families alike savoured the opportunity to see what rail travel was like more than a hundred years ago as regular steam trips took place along a length of track at the Centre.

Brill No.1, a loving recreation of the 1900 Brill branch line trains, recalls past Metro-land journeys
Brill No.1, a loving recreation of the 1900 Brill branch line trains, recalls past Metro-land journeys

Not only did Met Loco No. 1 make an appearance, but so did a recreation of a 1900 Brill branch line engine, resplendent in Metropolitan livery. Visitors were given the opportunity to ride in open carts, reliving the experience of the first Underground travellers. A number of other vintage carriages were also attached to both Brill and Met No. 1.

The train rides didn’t stop there. The Centre’s miniature railway was in full operation, taking its passengers on an extensive tour of the top end of the site through leafy trails and dark tunnels.

As well as the steam train rides, London Transport Museum brought their Safety and Citizenship team, complete with show vehicle, to teach younger visitors how to stay safe while on the transport network. Also present was a bus and Tube bouncy castle which provided entertainment for energetic youngsters, and respite for their tired parents!

Train building was just one of many fun activities for youngsters throughout the day
Train building was just one of many fun activities for youngsters throughout the day

Craft workshops, an array of locomotives and rolling stock, a model railway, a fascinating museum, and film screenings of Sir John Betjeman’s Metro-land, amongst countless other activities, truly ensured this was an event to remember. The café provided tasty snacks and refreshments for those needing a bit of an energy boost in the warm August sun.

It was a fantastic few days which brought to life a forgotten Metro-land, with Buckinghamshire Railway Centre providing a fitting backdrop for another opportunity to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground.

Written by William Cooper, LTM Marketing and Development Intern

A first for the City of London tradition of cart marking

(Left to Right) Mike Brown MVO MD of London Underground, Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, London Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy, Master Carman Neil Coles (c) TfL
(Left to Right) Mike Brown MVO MD of London Underground, Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, London Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy, Master Carman Neil Coles © TfL

The centuries-old City of London tradition of ‘cart marking’, usually reserved for road vehicles, went underground on Wednesday 17 July when London Transport Museum’s 1892 Metropolitan Railway ‘Jubilee’ Carriage No. 353 was ‘marked’ by Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE and the Master Carman, Neil Coles.  The ceremony was watched by Sir Peter Hendy CBE, London’s Transport Commissioner, and Mike Brown MVO, Managing Director of London Underground and London Rail.

Organised by the Worshipful Company of Carmen, a livery company of the City of London, the ceremony usually involves marking a vehicle with a branding iron and most often takes place on the forecourt of the Guildhall in the heart of the City.

The tradition dates back over 500 years when all carts and carriages plying trade within the ‘Square Mile’ of London had to be licensed to operate within the City limits. The licence took the form of a branded mark applied directly to the vehicle.

This year, in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, the role of the City of London in the financing and building of the Metropolitan Railway (the world’s first underground railway) and the important role that Underground travel plays in the life of the City, the Worshipful Company of Carmen took the unusual step of including a rail vehicle in the ceremony – a first in the event’s history.  As the vehicle could not get inside the Guildhall forecourt, Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE and the Master Carman, Neil Coles, took a branded plaque to the carriage at Mansion House Station.

The ceremony took place on Platform 2 of the station and the carriage was on display for five hours between 11.00 and 16.00, giving the public a chance to admire the quality of the recent restoration, which was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Also in attendance at the event was Wesley Kerr, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s London Committee and Museum Director Sam Mullins.

Project 353 Community Learning Programme – An Exciting New Way of Working

In response to feedback from community organisations, Project 353 has introduced a new way of working with our Community Learning Partners – the two day model.

This model allows more flexibility for Community Partners and Participants, fitting in with the activities or groups they already support without putting pressure on their capacity. As with our longer term learning opportunities, all of the projects are inspired by the history & restoration of Metropolitan Railway Jubilee carriage No. 353 and our volunteers will create craft or artistic pieces related to it. The volunteers also have the opportunity to undertake a relevant piece of accredited learning through the National Open College Network or Arts Award.

These projects will be mainly focussed on communities in west London who are under-represented in museums and heritage. Their projects will take place over the summer and will include activities such as story-telling and collecting, mural making and digital arts.

Once all of the two-day projects are complete, the pieces will be curated into a joint community exhibition celebrating their achievements and will tour each of their local areas – so watch this space for further details of both the projects as they begin and to see the work exhibited!

Project 353 Artwork being created by young learners
Project 353 Artwork being created by young learners

Project 353 Community Learning Programme – Accredited Learning

A key objective of Project 353’s Community Learning Programme is the opportunity for group participants to work towards a piece of accredited learning, documenting what they have achieved through their involvement with a 353 community project.

We have supported our volunteers to work towards one of three types of accreditation: The National Open College Network (NOCN) Certificate in Accessing Travel & Transport, The National Open College Network (NOCN) Certificate in Discovering Local History or the Arts Award at Bronze Level.

NOCN Travel & Transport Portfolio

The NOCN Certificate in Accessing Travel & Transport supports learners to understand more about the transport network, to feel confident in route and journey planning and to understand how to travel safely both within Transport for London’s modes and beyond

The NOCN Certificate in Discovering Local History supports learners to discover how local or national events in history – such as the opening of the London Underground 150 years ago – impacted the communities in their local area and to share this knowledge with others.

The Arts Award at Bronze Level is for learners aged 16-25 and supports them to develop a creative skill, share this skill with others and develop confidence in responding to artistic or cultural exhibitions and communicating about cultural, heritage or artistic pieces.

Project 353’s mix of artistic, cultural and historical learning means learners can choose as a group which option to take and the project is moulded to suit their aspirations.

While some learners choose not to undertake accreditation, those that do have found it helps them to articulate what they have achieved to those around them such as teachers, social workers or future employers.

On top of this, learners have expressed a real sense of pride, confidence and ownership in the programme by having their involvement formally recognised.

A carriage fit for a Queen

150 years of London Underground
Mike Brown shows the Queen the carriage at Baker Street, 20th March 2013 © Chris Radburn (PA)

Coach 353 was originally known as a ‘Jubilee’ coach, the design having been introduced in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee.  Having been such an important part of the Underground’s 150th anniversary celebrations, after a long and chequered career as carriage, workshop, club room, shop and home, coach 353 came full circle on 20 March 2013 when presented to HRH Queen Elizabeth II at Baker Street.

The royal party, including the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Cambridge, made a formal visit to mark the 150th anniversary. They were presented to station and operational staff and to those of us responsible for the restoration and operation of 353, including the apprentice and workshop manager from the Ffestiniog Railway, the chair of our Friends, our chairman and  sponsors Cubic and Siemens.

Shunted into the bay platform 2 at Baker Street, 353 glowed under the lights in all its varnished teak glory, next a four car train of the latest ‘S’- stock with ‘Buckingham Palace’ shown on its destination board. Thus both the past and the future of the Underground were inspected by the royal party and a presentation of a framed ‘Trooping the Colour’ poster by Margaret Calkin James from 1932 made to Her Royal Highness. Our trustee, Howard Collins, then stole the media show by presenting a ‘Baby on Board’ lapel badge to the Duchess of Cambridge. 353 stayed in the bay for the rest of the day and attracted a great deal of interest before being moved back overnight to our Acton Depot.

We Love Steam!


A look back at the April Depot Open Weekend

As part of the Museum’s celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, London Transport Museum opened its Depot in Acton for an extended Depot Open Week in April. Throughout the week we offered a series of special workshops which gave members of the public the opportunity to see more of the Museum’s transport collections and learn a new skill based on the heritage of the newly restored Carriage No. 353. The workshops were extremely popular and included vehicle photography, a Cab-it day, textile design and creative writing.

On the Saturday we opened the doors for our annual Depot Open Weekend with a series of activities designed around the theme of ‘We Love Steam’. Undeterred by the inclement weather, long queues formed out of the Depot and onto Gunnersbury Lane on what was set to become the busiest ever public opening of the Museum the team had ever experienced.


Alongside opportunities to stand on the footplate of the recently restored Met Locomotive  No. 1 which was in light steam, visitors were encouraged to see for themselves the opulent interior of the newly restored Carriage No. 353 on show in all its gold leaf glory, and wonder what it must have been like to travel First Class on the Victorian Underground. Volunteers from the London Transport Museum Friends, our partnership funders for the project were on hand to reveal the rich history of the oldest known surviving Metropolitan Railway carriage and tell the story of its recently completed restoration.

Also in attendance were staff and volunteers of the Ffestiniog Railway, restorers of Carriage No. 353 who had transported the Welsh Highland Railway locomotive  Prince from North Wales as part of their own celebrations of the 150th anniversary of narrow gauge railway. Long queues formed all day for the opportunity to stand on the footplate of Met 1, look around Carriage No. 353 and to take part in short rides on Prince. We recorded the highest ever turnout for a Depot Open Weekend and welcomed over 5,800 visitors smashing all previous attendance figures.

The weekend’s other activities included rides the ever-popular Acton Miniature Railway, collections tours and talks on Carriage No. 353’s history and recent restoration delivered by the Project Curator Tim Shields. The Museum’s restored train also provided the inspiration for our programme of family activities. Younger visitors were given the opportunity to create their own model steam train and decorate a Victorian lady or gentleman who might have travelled on Carriage No. 353 in the 19th Century.

On the Sunday, we were delighted to welcome Wesley Kerr, the Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s London Committee who surveyed the recent restoration of the carriage, boarded the footplate of Met 1 and enjoyed rides on both Prince and the Acton Miniature Railway. The next Depot Open Week takes place in October.