Category Archives: Project 353

Restoring Met353 – A craftsman’s perspective

One of the first challenges has been to repair the teak frame of the carriage; and undo the damage caused by many decades of human use and exposure to the elements. Surprisingly, in spite of being a timber frame, most of the damage has been caused by rust.

In the 1890s, the normal way to construct the wooden framework of a railway carriage was to use traditional joints such as ‘mortise and tenon’ and ‘lap joints’. In the absence of any effective glue, steel woodscrews were used to keep these joints together. Where further reinforcement was required  steel brackets were added, held in place by bolts or coachscrews. Over time these steel screws and bolts have rusted, and as they rusted they have caused considerable damage.

Image 1 (Left): Comparison of severely rusted coachscrew with complete example
Image 2 (Right): Rusted screw with resulting split in wood

As the screws and bolts slowly rusted, the expanding corrosion inexorably forced the wood apart, bending and splitting it. In some places, such as the tops of the corner posts, the fixings have split and splayed the timber in every possible direction.

To repair this sort of damage, the rusty fixings must first be carefully removed, the splits stabilised, holes plugged, and finally the surface replaced with a structural veneer of sound material. Once complete, the repair will be visually unobtrusive and should last for many years.

The above information was kindly provided by David Gunn, a Festiniog Railway craftsman working on the restoration of Met 353.

History of Met 353 (1974 – 1980s)


Whilst the restoration is on-going at the Festiniog Railway further research is being undertaken into the history of Metropolitan Railway carriage 353. Acquired by London Transport in 1974, several colour images have recently come to light showing the transportation of the carriage from Shrivenham and its subsequent storage at Ruislip depot.

Using a Central Distribution Services (LT) lorry the carriage was collected from Knapps dairy farm (located just off Shrivenham high street, Oxfordshire) in August 1974. It had been kept in the corner of the farmyard for over 34 years, but now required rescuing due to planned redevelopment of the farm site. Although exposed for many years to changing weather conditions, the carriage remained structurally sound and when inspected was found to be in surprisingly good condition for its age.

On arrival at Ruislip depot the carriage was moved undercover and added to London Transports historical relics collection. Various restoration options were explored over the following years including the idea of sectioning one compartment for public display. Thankfully the carriage was preserved intact, and after 37 years in storage is finally being restored to operational use.

Restoration update – February 2012

Over the past six months good progress has been made on restoring the carriage. After removing most of the exterior panelling to reveal the framework, work started on repairing the main structure and roof timbers. Nothing unforeseen has been discovered and overall the condition of the woodwork is very good. With the insertion of new compartment partition walls made of Pitch Pine (as originally fitted), the profile of the carriage body has been gently restored and subsequently stabilised.

Exterior corner areas of the carriage that had suffered from rot have been cut out and repaired using prime Teak. Minor damage to exterior woodwork caused by cracking and shrinkage has been repaired using glued in plugs and slips. Where possible the repair is made of Teak salvaged from parts of the carriage that can’t otherwise be reused. Although visible when varnished, the repair respects the integrity of the carriage and allows clear identification of where work has taken place. Whilst most of the restoration is taking place in the workshops at Boston Lodge, the fabrication of modular items such as replica gas lamps, seating and door handles are taking place off-site and will be added later during the project.

What’s next? A great deal of thought has been going into the design of the underframe and how it will be modified to accommodate the carriage body. Auto-Cad drawings have been produced detailing the proposed changes and have been checked by an independent Assurance Engineer. The task of stripping and shortening the underframe is expected to start in the next few weeks. In terms of schedule for completion, the project is still on target to return the carriage to operational condition by October 2012. To find out more about the project please see:

Restoration update – October 2011

Preparations have been underway developing the project management plan for the carriage restoration. This important strand of work will dictate how the rebuild of Met 353 will be implemented; it has involved further research into the design of the carriage, identifying resources, assessing risks, refining costs and bringing togther the team who will be working on the project. As reported previously the contract has been awarded to the Ffestiniog Railway carriage engineering works, located at Boston Lodge near Porthmadog in North Wales. The company has an excellent reputation for restoring carriages to a very high standard, incorporating professional workmanship with attention to detail. Funding from the HLF has also enabled the Ffestiniog Railway carriage engineering works to recruit an apprentice, who will play a key role in the restoration whilst working towards a two-year NVQ Level 2 in Carpentry. A suitable 4-wheeled underframe (ex BR Southern Region, PMV 1746) has been kindly donated by the Quainton Railway Society for use in the restoration of Met353.

In common with other heritage railway carriage restoration projects, the steel structure will be modified and shortened to accommodate the wooden body. Unfortunately, the original underframe built by Cravens for Met 353 has been missing for over 60 years – presumably scrapped a long time ago! Over the next few weeks the windows, panelling, doors and interior mouldings will be removed to reveal the main structure before it is repaired and restored to shape. Historically significant items, such as grab handles added to the carriage during Weston Clevedon & Portishead Light Railway (WC&PR) ownership, will be removed and saved. The engineering changes proposed to the underframe will need to be carefully designed, implemented and tested. To ensure these challenges are met, an independent engineer will be recruited with considerable experience of both heritage railway and Network Rail rolling stock operation and of vehicle acceptance. Working alongside will be an engineering representative from London Underground, who will monitor the work and make sure the carriage conforms for operation on Underground lines. Whilst it is early days within the life cycle of the project, I am confident the team working on the carriage will have it completed in time for special operation during the 150th anniversary in 2013.

HLF Stage 2 Award for Project 353

The museum is pleased to announce that it has been successful in its Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) application to restore Metropolitan Railway First Class ‘Jubilee’ carriage No.353. The Phase 2 decision secures £422,000 of HLF funding, which together with a £150,000 contribution from the London Transport Museum Friends, enables the restoration project and its associated learning programme to go ahead as planned.

To read the HLF press release see:

Restoration update – August 2011

Last week the wooden carriage body was delivered to the Festiniog Railway engineering works at Boston Lodge for further assessment. The road transfer from the Museum Depot took place over a two day period, with the final part of the journey involving use of the narrow gauge railway line. The photograph shows the carriage being hauled as a special ‘out-of-gauge load’ through the local town of Porthmadog on its way to the workshop.

HLF Stage 1 Award for Project 353

London Transport Museum has received a Stage 1 Development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to support the preparation of a Museum bid to the HLF for the restoration of our Metropolitan Railway ‘Jubilee’ First class carriage No.353.

The decision to restore the carriage will be announced later this summer. If all goes to plan we hope we will be able to include the restored carriage in the year-long series of exhibitions, activities and events to celebrate the anniversary – 150 Years of the London Underground

We are also supporting Quainton’s own restoration project for their Met 1 locomotive.

Exciting times ahead!

Please note that this is the full extent of information we have at the moment and therefore we’re currently unable to accept enquiries on this matter. Keep checking back for updates.