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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 71 - September 1992
Steam on the Met 1992 - Alan Sturrock
During May London Underground ran the third of its successful tours with steam over its main line. The two locos this year were 4-6-0 Black Five 44932 from the Midland Railway at Butterley, and 0-6-2 N7 69621 from Stour Valley. The coaches were seven Mark 1s (which BR have purchased for future tours), and also the electric loco Sarah Siddons.
The Black Five took part in the Aylesbury Open Day on 24 April and then went in steam via High Wycombe to Ruislip depot. The N7 was to have come down under the wires via the Great Eastern to Stratford and then across North London and Neasden. Everyone's friend, 'the man from Inter City', banned it at the last moment so it made its way by low loader.
On 12 May both locos and coaches were transferred over to Neasden depot. The N7 went just after dinner time and the Black Five at 20.00. I was able to see the locos at Harrow in the fading light, and hoped to have got a photo. Soon after, I caught a service train to Baker Street, and as we passed Neasden depot the train operator announced that "we will be passing a steam loco on the left hand side". It was quite pleasing as the public looked out and wondered if this was the new power for the Underground! On the following day both locos made test trips to Amersham after the evening rush hour, and I understand that all went well.
And so came 16 May, the first of the five days of operation. The N7 plus support coach left Neasden and travelled to Amersham where it stabled in the sidings. The Black Five with the seven mark 1's and Sarah left Neasden just after 09.00 and then had to go under the fly-under to get to Wembley. I was out photographing the train this day, and the loco made quite an effort to get up this steep incline. If left Harrow at 09.40 for the 35 minute journey of over 14 miles. The turn round time of 25 minutes gave passengers time to view the many stalls while the fresh engine was put on. On arrival at Harrow on platform 2 the train was propelled out by Sarah to the catch points just north of the station, and then pulled into platform 1. The steam ran light and then backed onto the train to form the 11.40 departure. This continued through the day to give six return trips, with the last one arriving back at Harrow at 21.20. The N7 and support coach followed 15 minutes later, and all were back at Neasden by 22.00. Timings for the day ran quite smoothly important because they had to be fitted in with both the Underground and the new Turbo trains. The last train from Harrow ran 30 minutes late: we were told that the N7 was struggling for steam.
On the Sunday I helped out on the Society stand at Harrow so I saw the operation of the trains and what passengers thought of it. I arrived before the first train to help set up the stand, so managed to get a few photos early on. Most of the passengers arrived in plenty of time before departure so had time to look at the stands and to buy refreshments. Train tickets at £8 were on sale for most trains during the day, and could also be bought for the following weekend. The Station Manager, besides telling passengers when the train would arrive and depart, also mentioned about the stands and refreshments. The Society got plenty of publicity about our 'Wheelpower' weekend over the May Bank Holiday, and we also handed out plenty of leaflets. It was really a great day with everyone enjoying themselves and, as one person put it, the "atmosphere was like a carnival." The coaches were ex BR Mark 1s which used to work on the 4TC sets on the lines to Bournemouth. They had been re-painted in a Metropolitan Brown at Ruislip, with a crest on the side. They also had bars at the windows as per the new BR instructions, and each end coach had a steward to help passengers and to sell booklets. On the Monday evening the N7 plus four coaches ran a special from Wembley Park to Stanmore, and although it was originally for staff, seats were sold to the public at £6. Also, on Monday lunchtime and Friday evening staff trips were run from Harrow to Amersham.
On Saturday 23 May I was out photographing again, travelling by train to the various vantage spots. By now the whole operation was working well and there were only minor delays. This gave me a chance to look at the stands and talk to several Society members. I went to Quainton on Sunday, and while travelling by train via Amersham I saw the locos at the beginning and end of the day. My Monday visit to Quainton only took me past Neasden but still with a view of both locos.
And so ended another successful two weekends of steam on commuter routes, with no attendant problems. The two locos were to go to Watford on the Monday morning to turn via the triangle, but in the end they took the stock back to Ruislip, and the locos then returned to their home depots. It is estimated that about 80 loco movements took place between Harrow and Amersham over the event, so everyone had a chance to see the engines in action. I would recommend the booklet Steam on the Met. 1992 by Capital Transport of Harrow which has our own Met 1 in colour on the front cover. This gives all the details of the line and history with plenty of photos of past and present.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 01 December 2017