Oldest underground train in Britain to return to London Transport Museum in £422,000 rebuild

By Culture24 Reporter | 07 October 2011
A black and white photo of a train carriage
Carriage Number 353 is about to return to public view© Supplied by the London Transport Museum
The public will be allowed to sneak inside the world’s oldest surviving underground train in a £422,000 restoration to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground.

The Metropolitan Railway Carriage Number 353, built in 1892 as one of 59 carriages for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee five years beforehand, rattled along the track now known as the Jubilee Line until it was withdrawn when the Metropolitan Railway was electrified in 1905.

The 27ft long, 8ft wide wooden beauty, bought by London Transport in 1974, will be accommodated at the London Transport Museum, where it will be used to showcase early underground travel under plans for the anniversary year in 2013.

"Restoring this carriage gives people the opportunity to experience what early Underground travel was like,” said transport expert Christian Walmer.

“It is difficult to understand today just how different the system was when it was operated by smoky steam trains hauling wooden coaches with passengers packed into individual compartments.

“This coach is an important part of Britain's heritage, since we were the first country to have an Underground system which was, in fact, the only one ever to be operated by steam locomotives."

A major Heritage Lottery Fund grant and support from the London Transport Museum Friends have paid for the project, which is expected to take a year to complete and will eventually see the carriage embark on a ten-year tour of heritage railways in London and the South-East.

More pictures:

A black and white photo of an ancient train on a track
The carriage will be fully restored alongside a programme of learning and conservation© Supplied by the London Transport Museum
A photo of an old ink map
A drawing of the carriage from 1898© Supplied by the London Transport Museum
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