Tag Archives: project 353

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.

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.


Project 353 – Learning – Acton High School’s Story


Acton High School is a close neighbour of the Museum Depot at Acton, just a couple of minutes walk up the Gunnersbury Lane, so it’s perhaps not surprising that it has a long history of supporting the museum. The most recent example was through Project 353’s learning programme.

As Project 353 includes a major restoration project, with strong elements of research, craft skills and reproduction, it seemed natural to involve pupils with an aptitude for Art and Design Technology subjects.

Fifteen year 7 pupils found themselves in Covent Garden and London Transport Museum, with ‘Access All Areas’ for a day and a brief to pull together an exhibition that could be mounted in the school. Those involved from the museum included the Head of Marketing and the Curators of the carriage, posters and exhibitions. They willingly submitted to detailed questioning from the young participants on topics such as exhibition staging, poster design, marketing and curating.  Additionally the activities of the day were filmed by the students, giving them valuable experience and exposure to sophisticated techniques.

A Museum Learning professional then supported the group weekly over 10 weeks within the school. Facilitating workshops where the group created pieces to exhibit. Posters were produced, using a wide range of skills from painting to desktop publishing via collage. A video loop was also created and edited. Finally the whole exhibition was mounted in the foyer of Acton High, where it entertained and educated students and parents over a number of weeks before going on tour to Acton Library on the High Street.

All this hard work deserved a reward, and it came on 13th January this year when the team were invited to travel on 353 as part of the ‘Steam on the Met’ day, forming part of the Underground 150 celebrations. They were delighted to see the carriage in active use in all its glory, and be involved in such a prestigious event.

What about the benefits for Acton High? Simone Stocks, their Community Outreach Manager, told me that the project was a great opportunity to reinforce the school’s relationship with the Museum. The involvement of parents in the foyer exhibition had helped bring in local communities too. The students had been stretched; the museum had treated them as responsible adults, and they responded well to this. The access to experts working in a professional environment was a rare opportunity for many students, and as such an invaluable resource for the school.

Would Simone encourage others to get involved with Project 353’s Learning Programme? “Absolutely, it is so worthwhile, giving rare access to real-life situations for the students.”
The students, in their feedback, highlighted the benefits for them: “Opportunities based on what I’m good at, and a lot of collaboration”; “Good to get involved and have a new experience”; “It was fun and it challenged my learning”.

So I think we can safely say that everyone involved came away appreciating the great opportunity that they’d had and very grateful that they had participated!


Dynamic testing of Met 353 – November 2012

As recently restored 353 had not previously run in its current form (using a modified PMV underframe), it was necessary to bed in the suspension and brakes; and to build confidence in the performance and dynamic behaviour of the vehicle. The tests were undertaken on the Great Central Railway over a three day period, with mileage accumulation carried out on day 1 (Monday 19th November). For the initial test runs the carriage was sandwiched between two locomotives (Cl45 D123 and Cl20 D8098 ) to enable rapid reversals at the possession limits and build up mileage as quickly as possible.

Once safe operation at 25 mph had been demonstrated on the first day, the carriage was tested to 40 mph, then to a maximum higher speed of 50mph on day 2 (Tuesday 20th November). The Class 20 locomotive provided the motive power for the high speed test, and with the light load of the carriage was very quick in reaching the desired speed. Day 3 (Wednesday 21st November) was booked as spare in case there were any issues earlier in the week. In the event this was used for additional mileage accumulation.

The following amateur footage shows the test train leaving the outskirts of Loughborough during one of the high speed runs.

The GCR was chosen as it has relatively straight and even track; ideal conditions for undertaking brake calculations and measuring vertical and lateral accelerations. The railway had been granted a derogation from the Office of Rail Regulation  for undertaking the high speed test. The Institute of Railway Research carried out the safety assurance work for the carriage and conducted the instrumentation and testing of the vehicle with support from London Underground and Festiniog Railway representatives.


Restoring Met 353 – Testing of safety critical components

Wheel Sets

During May safety critical components such as the draw hooks and wheelsets were carefully cleaned and NDT tested (Non Destructive Testing). This important procedure highlights any defects within metalwork that could later lead to failure of the part in service. Thankfully the majority of components passed the examination, however a number of brake block carriers failed and replacements duly sourced. When complete the carriage will have a dual (air and vacuum) braking system fitted, allowing it to be compatible with a range of heritage rolling stock. Interestingly, a number of ex London Underground A-Stock components have been recovered for re-use on the carriage braking system. Items include an auxiliary reservoir tank and two pressure gauges formally fitted to 6136 and 5136.

The profile of the wheels was checked last year and the shape found to be fairly good – A moderate amount of wear was discovered but well within intervention limits. There are currently no plans to re-profile the wheels (now close to P8) and they should be good for another 100,000 miles!


Restoring Met 353 – Loan of carriage door

Carriage Door

It can be very difficult to undertake an accurate and faithful restoration if original components are missing, or the information required to reproduce them unknown. One such challenge has been to identify the type of door latches once fitted to Met353. As none of the originals survived it was most fortuitous to recently find a complete door from another early Metropolitan Railway carriage, Met212 built by Ashbury in 1881. This has been kindly loaned to the project team by the Quainton Railway Society (QRS) and the detailed information gained from inspecting this example is proving invaluable to the build. After some careful cleaning and dismantling, it quickly became apparent the lock mechanism was designed by Edwin Robert Wethered, an inventor once based in Woolwich, London. It closely matches his patent: 407,268 submitted in 1889.

Met212 at Aylesbury © Albin J. Reed

Notes: Met212 was one of the last 8-wheeled stock carriages to be operated by the Metropolitan Railway. It was later modified for use as a sleet clearing vehicle and survived into London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) ownership in 1933. Once withdrawn from railway use, the carriage body was grounded next to staff allotments alongside Aylesbury train station. A door was rescued by QRS before the carriage was finally broken up in 1967.


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: www.ltmuseum.co.uk/collections/projects/met-353


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: http://www.hlf.org.uk/news/Pages/Worldsoldestknownundergroundcarriagetoberestored.aspx