Back in 1994 London Transport closed down the Ongar extension of the Central Line from Epping station, so it wasn’t without a little sense of irony that we found that the Epping and Ongar Railway, who now operate a heritage railway on the track, had got together with the London Transport Museum to run some very special trains to celebrate the 150th anniversary of London Underground.
We’d visited the Epping and Ongar Railway before (read about it here) but the opportunity to ride in a real piece of London’s history was too good to miss. Lots of people had had the same idea and the railway’s fleet of historic buses were all busy moving people from Epping Underground Station to the railway’s start point at North Weald Station.
Ready and waiting on the platform wee a variety of historic Metropolitan Line carriages that used to run on the tracks between central London and stations out in Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The star of the show was carriage No.353 which was built in 1892 and ran on the line up to 1906 when it was sold to the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Railway.
It eventually ended up as a a military tailors workshop before being lovingly restored by the London Transport Museum. We paid a £5 supplement on the day ticket price of £20 to ride in the plush velvet First Class luxury of what we were told was the Queen’s carriage of No. 353.
Taking us to Ongar was an old British Railways locomotive,
but waiting for us at the other end was Metropolitan No.1, which was going to pull us back to North Weald.
Metropolitan No. 1 was built in 1898 and it is the oldest surviving locomotive from the age of steam on London Underground’s Metropolitan Line. We had to change carriages as our special red ticket upgrade was only valid one way and our carriage for the return leg had an interior restored back to World War II complete with air raid instructions.
and a pre Harry Beck (the guy who designed the classic tube map) map of the Metropolitan Railway.
Arriving back at North Weald we also got to see the other London Transport steam locomotive L.150 as it got up steam to take the train back up the line, before heading off to Theydon Bois for a few drinks at The Queen Victoria and a curry at the Theydon Bois Balti House.
It was a fabulous day out so a big thank you to the volunteers at the Epping and Ongar Railway and the people from the London Transport Museum who made this trip back into history possible.
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