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Metropolitan Railway E Class 0-4-4T No. 1

Met. No. 1 early on 22nd August 2001 Met. No. 1 at its Easter 1985 relaunch with Don Estelle on the footplate

Phil Marsh - Met. No. 1 early on 22nd August 2001
Robert Frise - Met. No. 1 at its Easter 1985 relaunch with Don Estelle on the footplate

Met. No. 1 during October 2009 Gala

Andrew Bratton - Met. No. 1 during October 2009 Gala

Operational History

The Metropolitan Railway, a substantial part of which now forms the Metropolitan Line of the London Underground, once had a fleet of steam locomotives. The steam classes saw most use on surface lines, although trips underground were part of the daily routine for most types.

No. 1 is the only survivor of a class of seven engines designed by the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Met, Mr T. F. Clark, 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). No. 1, built in 1898, was the last locomotive constructed at Neasden Works. It was built as a replacement for "A" class 4-4-0T No. 1, which was broken up after an accident at Baker Street, at the junction of what is now the Inner Circle. Two identical locomotives, Nos. 77 and 78 were also built at Neasden, with a further four built by R & W Hawthorn Leslie of Newcastle in 1900-1. It seems likely that the class, designated "E", was to have been larger, as a gap was left in the list of locomotive numbers, the next number used being 90.

No. 1 and its classmates proved very successful and were more than capable of the work asked of them. On 4th July 1904, gaily decorated with flags and bunting it headed the first passenger train on the opening of the Uxbridge branch from Harrow on the Hill. 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. For over twenty years these locomotives were the mainstay of the Metropolitan services to Aylesbury, and still appeared after the introduction of larger engines, such as the "H" class tanks, in the 1920s.

From about this time the class was gradually used for less strenuous work on branch lines and freight and engineering workings, although all survived to be taken into London Transport stock when the Metropolitan was taken over by the London Passenger Transport Board on 13th April 1933. Met No. 1 became London Transport L.44, and it is known that by July 1936, though probably earlier, Met. 1 was repainted in London Transport livery. The duties of the class at this time included passenger services on the Chesham Branch, pilot engine at Rickmansworth, and goods transfer and engineering trains around Neasden.

Nos. 78, 79 and 82 were withdrawn in 1935, and No. 80 (L.47) in 1941, while the remaining three survived until 1963-4, when Nos. 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. For example L. 44 was recorded at Aylesbury on 21st August 1955 on a permanent way train.

These much loved LT locomotives also became popular on tours and specials including the 50th Jubilee of the Uxbridge Line and the Railway World Special, which did reach Quainton. No. 1 survived to work the last steam train on the Chesham Branch in 1960 and the last steam-hauled passenger train anywhere on LT 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 on 23rd May 1963, where it hauled four bogie coaches and a milk van.

Preservation History

An appeal, the Met Tank Appeal Fund, was set-up in 1962, originally to purchase the Metropolitan Railway 0-6-2 'F' Class locomotive L.52. This appeal changed its focus, as it was found that L.52 had a cracked mainframe, and L.44 was selected instead. 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. If it was not for the foresight of these preservation pioneers, we may not have an operational Metropolitan tank available today.

Following its final activities for London transport, L.44 was purchased by LRPS / Met Tank Appeal Fund. Met No. 1 was delivered in steam on 26th 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 an 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 she was stored for two years. Transfer by rail to Quainton followed on 23rd 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 on 13th August 1975 with the removal of the tanks and cab, followed by a boiler lifted in February 1976. L44 has been extensively overhauled, the first overhaul starting in August 1975 with the removal of the tanks and cab, followed by a boiler lifted in February 1976.

For a number of years Met No.1 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, Met No. 1 also attending various depot open days including the Upminster Open Days. Met No. 1 even ventured into Baker Street station, a "No Smoking" station!

Met. No. 1 has also visited a number of other preserved railways, including:

  • Mid Hants Railway in September 1987 for the lines 10th Anniversary and again in 2014
  • The Keighley and Worth Valley in April 1994 where it operated with the K & WVR's Dreadnought vintage coaches
  • The Bluebell in July 2007 as part of the celebration of the completion of their rake of four Metropolitan Chesham vintage coaches
  • Barrow Hill in August 2008 for their Rail Power 2008 event
  • Llangollen Railway for their suburban weekend in October 2008

A heavy overhaul of Met 1 was completed in 2001, with much of the work completed at Bill Parker's Flour Mill restoration base, its boiler certificate expiring in April 2011. Intermediate maintenance work has included:

  • Fitting of new springs
  • Water Tank Repairs
  • Steam Brake Refurbishment
  • Replacement Ash pan
  • Injector overhaul
  • Front Tube Plate Repair

Underground 150 and after

During 2010 Metropolitan No. 1 came to the end of its current boiler certificate, with a special Farewell to Met No.1 event in on 17th 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 loco to steam in time for the 150th anniversary of steam on the Underground. Once costings were available the Society and the London Transport Museum decided to launch a full restoration appeal. All transport and works for the first steps were at no cost to QRS. A tender was issued for restoration to Railway Group standards for mainline running, with a view to allowing Met. 1 onto the underground system in 2013. The tender was awarded to the Flour Mill where a heavy overhaul was recently completed, with the aim to run the first services on the London Underground in January 2013.

The latest restoration of Met. No. 1 finished on the 21st November 2012 with a steam test. Met No. 1 was then transported to Bitton on the Avon Valley Railway where she went under initial running trials and problem solving. Met No. 1 then was transported to the Severn Valley Railway for running in trials from the 28th to 30th 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 loco 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. Met No. 1 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 No. 12 in charge, with Met No. 1 on the back of the formation.

On January 10th 2013 Met No. 1 hauled the recently restored 4-wheeled Metropolitan Railway First Class Coach No. 353 and the Bluebell Railway's ex-LT four-coach Chesham set, with Metropolitan Railway Bo-Bo electric Sarah Siddons No. 12 bringing up the rear. This formation took 75 passengers from Earl's Court to Moorgate, via Baker Street. The formation set off at 1 am and returned a little more than 3 hours later. On the 13th January 2013 a VIP special ran over a similar route, with public trips being run on the 20th January.

On February 2013 Met 1 returned home to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre where it operated paired with Metropolitan Railway Dreadnought Carriage No. 465, which is on extended loan from the Vintage Carriages Trust. Met No.1 returned to London over the weekend of 13 - 14 April 2013, appearing at London Transport's Acton Depot open weekend. On the 25 - 27th May Met No. 1 ran several public trips on the northern end of the Metropolitan Line.

Met No. 1 was due to be used on the Steam Back on the Met event, in May 2013. Unfortunately she failed with a hot big-end bearing on the Saturday 25th May 2013. The crew spotted the problem during the 15:15 run from Harrow to Amersham on the 25th May, when double heading with BR(WR) No. 9466, in BR Black livery. Met No. 1 returned at slow speed to Ruislip Depot to allow rectification work to be undertaken. Met No. 1 did manage successfully to complete an overnight test in the early morning of 23rd May from Ruislip to Amersham and return.

In June 2013 Met No. 1 was partnered with the 4-wheeled Metropolitan Railway First Class Coach No. 353 at the Epping Ongar Railway's LU150 event on 21 - 24th June and 28th June to 1st July, a total days of operation. As well as No. 353, Met No. 1 took part in a reunion with two of the Vintage Carriage Trust's 1920's Metropolitan Dreadnought coaches; First class carriage No. 509 and brake No. 427. The last time Met No. 1 was seen in combination with two Dreadnought coaches was when she visited the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in 1994.

Met No. 1 then returned home to Quainton for a series of LU150 events. On Tuesday 6th August 2013 there was a Connoisseurs day with additional access and events on site. This was followed on the 3rd, 4th and 7th August by a Discover Forgotten Metro-land event featuring Met No. 1, Metropolitan Railway First Class Coach No. 353 and Metropolitan Railway Dreadnought Carriage No. 465. Met No. 1 was used for 14 days without any problems.

Met No. 1 and the London Transport Museum's beautiful Jubilee Carriage 353, left Quainton on the 28th August, for London Transport's Ruislip Depot in preparation for a series of Amersham steam runs. Met No. 1 appeared at Amersham for a LU150 event on the 7th September 2013, but unfortunately failed its fitness to run exam on the 8th September due to a minor steam leak. The leak was caulked by a team from the Flour Mill Workshop, but the work was not completed in time for the 8th September runs.

Met No. 1 was again partnered with the 4-wheeled Metropolitan Railway First Class Coach No. 353 at the Severn Valley Railway's Autumn Steam Gala on the 20 - 22nd September 2013. This visit was in part to thank the Severn Valley Railway for the use of their facilities for running in and the 50mph test run. Met No. 1 had been earmarked to return to Quainton for a gala on the 6th October but budget cuts meant it went straight to the Bodmin & Wenford Railway.

On 12-13th October 2013 Met. No. 1 visited the Bodmin & Wenford Railway for their Victorian gala which saw 3 nineteenth century locomotives in steam. As well as meeting Beattie's sister locomotive, No. 30587, again, Met No. 1 also hauled B & WR's newly restored GWR Special Saloon No. 248.

Following a guest appearance at London Transport Museum's Action open day on the 1st - 3rd November, was due to run on the Uxbridge Branch on Sunday 8th December. Met. 1 successfully completed a series of loaded test runs from Ruislip Depot to Uxbridge on Monday 2nd but was then failed on the Friday. Details will follow in due course, but it would appear that an old patch dating from the locos original use on London Underground had failed after some 60 years or so. The Flour Mill's Prairie completed the runs in its place. Met No. 1 returned to Quainton until the end of January 2014.

Met. No. 1 visited the Mid Hants Railway running in on Thursday 6th March 2014, with public services on 7-9th March. Met No. 1 hauled a number of services including a shuttle service using the Mid Hants Thumper unit. We are grateful to Judi Lion for permission to publish the picture below. Met. No. 1 then visited the Swindon and Cricklade Railway over Easter weekend 2014 and for their Steam Gala over the weekend of 26th / 27th April 2014. She suffered a hot axlebox whilst at Swindon & Cricklade, but this was repaired in time for the Steam Gala. Met. No. 1 next moved onto the Didcot Railway Centre for the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.

During 2014 Met. No. 1 also visited:

  • Great Central Railway (Swithland) - 9-11th May
  • Hammersmith - Moorgate - Saturday 2nd & 9th August - including a run behind Met No. 1 from Northfields to Moorgate on the Piccadilly Line. Three journeys were from Moorgate to Hammersmith behind Sarah Siddons, with a return trip behind Met. No. 1. The last run of the day returned to Northfields with Sarah Siddons on the front and Met. No. 1 on the back of the train. The trains ran with the Bluebell Railway's ex-LT four-coach Chesham set, the 4-wheeled Metropolitan Railway First Class Coach No. 353, Metropolitan milk van No. 5 and Metropolitan Railway Bo-Bo electric Sarah Siddons No. 12.
  • Chesham Branch - Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th August - top and tailing with GWR prairie No. 5521 in LT Maroon Livery as No. L.150, and Metropolitan Railway Bo-Bo electric Sarah Siddons No. 12 steam taking over the branch for the first time since 1962.
  • Barry Tourist Railway - August Bank Holiday Weekend
  • Epping Ongar Railway - End of Tube Gala - 26 - 28 September 2014. Accompanied by the London Transport Hopper Wagon HW418 and LT Flat Brake Van No. FB. 578, from Quainton.
  • Swanage Railway - Autumn Steam Gala - 17 - 19 October 2014. Operated services double headed with Drummond M7 No. 30053

Met No. 1 visited the Flour Mill after the Swanage Railway Gala to have new tyres fitted to her 4 driving wheels before returning to Quainton.

Met No. 1 took part in another Steam in the Met event on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September 2015 for the Watford 90 weekend. Here Met No. 1 appeared again with the Bluebell's 4 coach Chesham set, the Metropolitan Railway Jubilee Coach No. 353, the Met. milk van No. 3 and the Metropolitan Bo-Bo electric No. 12 Sarah Siddons.

Met No. 1 again visited the Flour Mill for maintenance. Whilst at the Flour Mill over winter 2015 they fitted new brake blocks, replaced a broken spring, fitted a prototype spark arrestor and thoroughly serviced her.

During 2016, 2017 and 2018 Met. No. 1 has visited:

  • Midland Railway - Butterley - March - June 2016
  • Dean Forest Railway - Norchard - 1st - 3rd July 2016
  • Mid Norfolk Railway - Dereham - August 2016 (failed at August Gala)
  • Epping and Ongar Railway - Ongar - October 2016 to January 2017
  • Epping and Ongar Railway - Ongar - April 2017
  • Epping and Ongar Railway - Ongar - August 2017
  • Epping and Ongar Railway - Ongar - Apil 2018

Met No. 1 was scheduled to appear as part of Steam on LT 10th and 11th September 2016. The train was due to be topped and tailed consisting, from the north end, triple headed with Met No. 1, Prairie L150 and a Class 20 (for air brakes) with another Class 20 on the back. There are due to be 3 round trips between Harrow and Amersham. Unfortunately this trip had to be cancelled due to stock problems. Another steam on the Met session on 10th - 11th September 2016 was also cancelled due to proposed industrial action. Met 1 appeared at Quainton's Steam Gala in October 2016.

In September 2017 Met No. 1 again appeared along with No. 9466 on Steam on the Met. Four trips a day from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Amersham, with the last trip also taking in Ruislip. The trips also included two class 20 locos both to provide additional power if required and to act as translators to the 4TC set of coachs.

Met. No. 1 at Ropley on Sunday 9th March 2014

Judi Lion - Met. No. 1 at Ropley on Sunday 9th March 2014

Met. No. 1 at Ropley on Sunday 9th March 2014

Gavin Hamilton - Met. No. 1 test run for Steam on the Met in 1989

Met. No. 1 running round at the Epping Ongar Railway

Karl Roblett - Met. No. 1 running round at the Epping Ongar Railway

A Builders Plate Conundrum

A number of years ago a QRS member funded the manufacture of a set of replacement builders plates for the locomotive. However, a number of years passed before they were fitted whilst the puzzling evidence of why there was no sign of the original fitting location was researched. As mentioned above Met No. 1 was built to replace the original of that number, a Beyer Peacock locomotive similar to No. 23 in the LT Museum. It would appear that the Operating Department applied to the Metropolitan Railway Board for funds with which to replace No. 1. This was denied for financial reasons.

At about this time the small batch of the E class locomotives was being built at Neasden Works, together with spare parts to maintain them. The Operating Department was still desperate for another locomotive, so arrangements were made to manufacture one additional set of spares to repair the original Met No. 1. When assembled a new locomotive emerged, but on paper the original Met No. 1 had been repaired. The loco was given No. 1 and not a higher number for this reason. To have fitted builders plates with the date of "building" would of course been a giveaway - hence the inability to find the original fitting location.

The Restoration of Metropolitan No. 1 - Quainton News No. 34 Spring 1978
A First 'AcQuaintance' - Albin J Reed - Quainton News No. 62 Spring 1987
Steam Heritage Awards - Quainton News No. 63 - Summer 1987
Over the Alps with No. 1 - Quainton News No. 64 Winter 1987 / 88
Quainton Steam on London Transport Metals - Quainton News No. 68 Winter 1990 / 91
Met No 1 - New Loco or Rebuild! - Allan Baker - Quainton News No. 100 October 2008
Metropolitan No. 1 - Andrew Bratton - Quainton News No. 109 - Autumn 109
Flagship Locos - Quainton News No. 101 - April 2009

Builder :- Metropolitan Railway Date Built :- 1898 Origin :- Metropolitan Railway
London Transport
Number :- 1 Alternate Numbers :- LT L.44 Name :- -
Wheel Arrangement :- 0-4-4T Tractive Effort :- 14, 515 lb Boiler Pressure :- 150 psi
Cylinder Dimensions :- 17" x 26" Weight :- 54t 10c Driving Wheel Dia. :- 5' 6"
Owner :- QRS Status :- Operational Location :- Ongar
Accession Number :- W/0002 Arrival Date :- LRPS 1964 / QRS 1969 Power Classification :- Met - Not Classified

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 28 June 2019