|Introduced||1896 – 1901|
|Driving Wheels||5ft 6ins|
|Cylinders||17¼in x 26in|
The world’s first underground railway, the Metropolitan, opened in January 1963. The first section of 3¾miles connected stations at Paddington (Bishop’s Road) (now Paddington), Edgware Road, Baker Street, Portland Road (now Great Portland Street), Gower Street (now Euston Square), King’s Cross (now King’s Cross St Pancras), and Farringdon Street (now Farringdon). The line was soon extended from both ends, and northwards via a branch from Baker Street. It reached Hammersmith in 1864, Richmond in 1877 and completed the Inner Circle in 1884, but the most important route was the line north into the Middlesex countryside, where it stimulated the development of new suburbs. Harrow was reached in 1880, and the line eventually extended to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 50 miles from Baker Street and the centre of London.
Initially the Metropolitan Railway relied on locomotive power supplied by the Great Western Railway. But in 1864 the railway acquired 18 4-4-0 tank engines built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester. A further 48 were built between 1866 and 1885. Although these locomotives were well equipped for working the inner suburban trains they were could not meet the needs of working out into Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire which required something faster and with a large coal capacity.
In 1891 four 0-4-4 tank engines were ordered from Neilsons in Glasgow which had many South Eastern Railway characteristics. These proved to be first-class machines and were the precursors of the E class tanks.
The E class tanks were the design of Thomas Clark who took over as Superintendent of the Metropolitan in 1896. A total of seven E class locomotives were built between 1896 and 1901 for the Metropolitan Railway: three by the railway at their Neasden Works and four by Hawthorn Leslie and Company in Newcastle upon Tyne.
They were designed for use on the Baker Street to Verney Junction service. (Verney Junction was the Metropolitan Railway’s furthest outpost, where it joined the LNWR Oxford to Bletchley line).
One locomotive became Metropolitan Railway number1 and was a replacement for A class (4-4-0T) locomotive which carried the same number and which had been scrapped after an accident at Baker Street. The other locomotives were numbered 77 to 82.
The E class were displaced from the main passenger trains by the 4-4-4T H class in 1920, moving to lesser jobs such as trains on the Chesham branch, goods trains and engineering duties. Following the Second World War, one E class locomotive was regularly stationed at Rickmansworth station to cover a failure of LNER locomotives working Metropolitan Line trains north of this point.
The completion of the Metropolitan Railway’s electrification programme made more engines of the same type unnecessary and also led to the removal of the condensing apparatus which had been fitted for working in the underground tunnels.
The first locomotive was scrapped in 1935 before it could be given a new London Transport number, something that only four locomotives would receive. Number 1 became L44, while numbers. 77, 80 and 81 became L46–L48.
The duties of the class whilst owned by London Transport included passenger services on the Chesham Branch, pilot engine at Rickmansworth, and goods transfer and engineering trains around Neasden.
Numbers 78, 79 and 82 were withdrawn in 1935, and 80 (L.47) in 1941, while the remaining three survived until 1963-4, when 77 and 81 (L.46 and L.48) were scrapped. In the immediate post war years L.44, L.46 and L.48 frequently worked the Baker Street to Aylesbury trains, possibly even getting as far as Quainton Road. These locomotives also frequently worked permanent way trains from Neasden, sometimes getting as far as Aylesbury to run round and take water. L44 was recorded at Aylesbury on in August 1955 on a permanent way train.
Metropolitan Railway 1 (L44)
This locomotive was the last engine built at Neasden when it was completed there in 1898 and became London Transport L44 in 1938.
It was one of a small group of engines retained for departmental duties after the LNER took over the passenger workings between Rickmanworth, Aylesbury and Verney Junction.
In July 1904 headed the first passenger train on the opening of the Uxbridge branch from Harrow on the Hill.
It was used on several occasions in the 1950s on rail-tour specials.
Upon withdrawal from service it was acquired by the London Railway Preservation Society in March 1964.
L44 survived to work the last steam train on the Chesham Branch in July 1960 and the last steam-hauled passenger train anywhere on London Transport in 1961. But it was another two years before the locomotive was withdrawn, after a final moment of glory when in took part in the Metropolitan Centenary parade at Neasden in May 1963, where it hauled four bogie coaches and a milk van.
L44 (No.1) had the honour of working the last steam-hauled LT passenger train in 1961, and survived in use until 1965; it is now preserved at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.
An appeal, the Met Tank Appeal Fund, was set-up in 1962, originally to purchase the Metropolitan Railway 0-6-2 class F locomotive L52. This appeal changed its focus, as it was found that L52 had a cracked mainframe, and L44 was selected instead and a price of £450 agreed. The Met Tank Appeal fund was helped by the committee members of the London Railway Preservation Society (LRPS), a forerunner of the Quainton Railway Society.
Following its final activities for London transport, L44 was purchased by LRPS / Met Tank Appeal Fund and was delivered in steam in March 1964 to the LRPS’s temporary store at Skimpot Lane, Luton. Whilst at this depot an attempt was made to prepare the locomotive for a live steam appearance at the Bedford Centenary Exhibition in October 1968. Some defective stays were replaced and the Bedford shed boilersmith made plans for a hydraulic test, but unfortunately the locomotive was not permitted to be in action for the journey or in steam at the Exhibition.
The locomotive was subsequently moved to Aylesbury, where it was stored for two years. Transfer by rail to Quainton followed in September 1970, with a track slew from the mainline into the Down Yard. Some initial preservation and investigatory work was done, but the first major overhaul started in earnest in August 1975 with the removal of the tanks and cab, followed by a boiler lifted in February 1976
For a number of years the engine was maintained to the standard required of British Rail mainline running, and was periodically used for special steam trains organised by London Underground, over the old Metropolitan lines from its original birthplace at Neasden. These events were called Steam on the Met. It also visited a number of heritage railways.
A heavy overhaul of the engine was completed in 2001, with much of the work completed at Bill Parker’s Flour Mill restoration base.
During 2010 Metropolitan it came to the end of its current boiler certificate, with a special event in October 2010. The Society then looked at options for its next overhaul, ideally before the 150th Anniversary of the Metropolitan Railway in 2013. An agreement has been reached with London Transport Museum that Met No. 1 should be transported to the Flour Mill workshops for assessment and costing of the work needed to return the locomotive to steam in time for the 150th anniversary of steam on the Underground.
The latest restoration of the engine was completed in November 2012 with a steam test. It was then transported to Bitton on the Avon Valley Railway where it went under initial running trials and problem solving before being transported to the Severn Valley Railway for running in trials at the end of November. Using three Mark 1 carriages, trials were completed at 25mph, 30mph, 40mph and finally 50mph. Further preparatory work at the Severn Valley Railway included wheel weight balancing. The locomotive was then transported to London, being at London Transport’s Acton Depot by the 4th December 2012.
The first run on London Transport metals was undertaken in the early hours of the 16th December 2012 from LT Ealing Common Depot to Earls Court via the District Line. It then proceeded to Edgware Road via the Circle and District Line, and then onto Baker Street on the Metropolitan Line, travelling onto Kings Cross, Farringdon and Moorgate. The route was then reversed, with the 1912 built Metropolitan Railway Bo-Bo electric Sarah Siddons number12 in charge, with Met number 1 on the back of the formation. It hauled more trains on the London Transport rails before returning to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre in February 2013.
The engine has continued to visit heritage Railways.
The locomotive will spend the 2019 season on the Epping Ongar Railway.
The locomotive subsequently returned to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre where the overhaul of the locomotive commenced.
The boiler was lifted off the frames in October 2020 and is being stripped for inspection after which quotes will be sought for its overhaul. The boiler is likely to be sent away for a contract overhaul although as much work as possible on overhauling the locomotive will be undertaken at Quainton Road.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Buckinghamshire Railway Centre||Under overhaul||Quainton Railway Society|