When first introduced, these units were all based with the similar Class 121 single carriage (railcar) units, on British Railways’ Western Region for suburban work out of London Paddington and Cornwall. The units were largely based at Southall, and Plymouth Laira depots; they were all built by Pressed Steel between 1959 and 1961.
Originally a 3-car unit, our Class 117 has an important position in the history of the Epping Ongar Railway, being the first passenger-carrying train in the EOR’s Preservation History. It is formed of Driving Motor Standard (DMS) No.51384, pictured right, and Driving Motor Brake Standard (DMBS) No.51342, pictured below.
Between 2004 and 2008, the unit valiantly operated the Sunday services of the fledgling Epping Ongar Railway. It was then decided to give the unit some much needed love and attention. A start was made on the interior, including re-upholstering the seats and replacing the interior wall and ceiling panels.
The exterior also required serious attention, with numerous leaks being found, and supports needing replacement. Both driving cabs have been refurbished, and new linoleum flooring fitted. The DMS has had a new roof fitted, and been rubbed down in preparation for a repaint into BR Green with 'whiskers'.
With windows on the partition between the driving cabs and passenger compartments, these types of DMUs have proven themselves popular with passengers, particularly small children, as they can see both the line ahead and the driver at the controls.
Status: DMBS Undergoing extensive restoration; DMS operational.
To boost capacity on some services, a fleet of ten driving trailers were built to work with the Class 121 bubble car units. They were almost identical in build, with the exception of being unpowered vehciles.
W56287 was built by Pressed Steel Ltd. in 1961 and spent most of its working life on the Paddington to Oxford route, as well as some of the surrounding branch lines. It was one of two of the fleet to be fitted with a corridor connection in 1988; the second vehcile, 56289 has also survived into preservation. Withdrawn June 1993, it spent time at other heritage lines in the east of England, before being hired in to create an operational DMU, currently being paired with our Class 117 DMS.
We have one 2-car DEMU on the railway, a 1957 "Hampshire" Class 205 unit, commonly known as a "Thumper".
These diesel-electric multiple units (DEMU) were once common on many commuter lines and nicknamed "Thumpers" due to the characteristic noise they produce.
205205 is the only unit with a corridor connection, having been experimentally converted and ‘modernised.’ Because of this, it was saved for preservation. Following 47 years of service, 205205 was withdrawn at Selhurst on 23 July 2004; on that day, the unit had worked the 07:26 Uckfield to London Bridge service, terminating at East Croydon. That November, it was hauled to Tonbridge West Yard for store, before continuing to St Leonards in December, for engine repairs. Following a return to Tonbridge in March 2005, it was then sold to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, though was little used owing to a broken fan clutch. It was sold to the EOR, and arrived in 2009.
The unit successfully re-entered service during the 2013 Autumn diesel gala, and was a regular performer on the line for two years, proving popular with families, enthusiasts and even the volunteer crews themselves. At the end of 2016 the unit was sidelined following discovery of an issue with the camshaft. Subsequent repairs saw the unit move under its own power again in late 2019. However, it is currently awaiting bodywork repairs.
Status: Serviceable; awaiting bodywork repairs.
Driving Motor 1031
In order to cope with a build-up of traffic on the Central and Piccadilly lines new stock was required to replace the last of the 'Standard' stock still in use on these lines in the 1950s.
As the name implies the 1959 tube stock was built in the late 1950s, by Metro Cammell, based on prototypes developed from the 1938 Stock. Seventy-six units in 3 and 4 car formations were ordered for the Piccadilly Line, though most units were transferred on to the Central Line due to the unreliability of the “Standard Stock” then in use, until replaced by the similar 1962 Stock. On the Central Line the 1959 Stock was augmented by an additional trailer vehicle which was incorporated into the 1962 Stock.
Having settled down on the Piccadilly line the 1959 Stock was transferred to the Northern Line following the replacement by new 1973 Stock upon the opening of the extension to Heathrow Airport. Some trains also saw use on the Bakerloo line.
The 1959 Stock was introduced with a distinctive, clean, silver exterior. With time, the unpainted exteriors became jaded and dirty and the blue and grey interiors dated quickly. Minor refurbishment took place in the mid-1990s.
Withdrawal of the 1959 Stock was a drawn-out affair, and when the last example was withdrawn on 28 January 2000, it was the only remaining tube train to be crewed with a motorman and a guard.
Our vehicle, number 1031, is a Driving Motor vehicle, which was retained at Morden depot and converted to a conference/training room. It is the second vehicle to carry this number, being the former 1085 - the original 1031 being damaged in an incident in 1986. In 1990, it was repainted into the 1922 underground livery at Vic Berry's in Leicester to celebrate 100 years of electric tube railways. The interior was painted cerulean blue. The other driving car of the unit is currently at the Mangapps Museum, along with one of its passenger cars.
1031 pictured at Neasden depot after arrival back from repainting in Leicester. (Photo: Brian Hardy)
The carriage was donated to the Epping Ongar Railway by the Underground. The carriage was in the way of major upgrade at the Morden Depot and it proved to be cost-effective to donate it to the Railway. The carriage was brought by low-loader from Morden and unloaded in a complicated procedure using two cranes.
The vehicle arrived at North Weald in May 2018 and houses a museum of the history of the Epping Ongar Railway and London Transport memorabilia.