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Sarah Siddons Tour of Metropolitan Lines

28th April 2001

© by John Lunn

This tour of the Met Lines and the visit to the Jubilee Line control room had been originally booked to take place in November 2000 but owing to the atrocious weather at that time the tour was postponed until the 28th April this year.

This was most fortunate as it gave the Institution more time to advertise the tour and also brought it into our 90th year since founding in 1911.

Our train for this the first ever (& only?) Locomotive & Carriage Institution railtour consisted of an ex BR SR 4TC push pull set and ex Metropolitan Railway electric locomotive No. 12 “Sarah Siddons” of 1923.  Sarah Siddons was built by Metropolitan Vickers of Barrow and is fitted with Metro Vick control gear and traction motors of 300 hp each giving a total power output of 1200 hp.

Sarah Siddons today has had many alterations made to her in line with past test duties and some for modern running conditions. She is at present used for occasional shunting duties in Ruislip depot.

Inside Sarah Siddons is very sparse, the driving position is almost identical with that of the former Southern Railway 4 SUB units, which dated from 1936, a type with which I had more than a passing acquaintance. The control stand is similar a to that used in pre-war trains, Westinghouse brake equipment, no speedometer and no amp gauge, although a modern addition is a pair of lights to indicate the (I) locomotive had gone from series to full parallel. There are no weak field windings on the motors. A modern air brake has been added and this was in use on the tour.

The 'engine compartment’ contained all contactors/resistances, compressor and so forth and the whole locomotive interior is open - there being no bulkheads/walls of any description.

When in service I would expect these locomotives to have been rather uncomfortable to work on, as they would have been cold in winter, until all the resistances warmed up in service. Likewise in summer I could imagine a late turn on a warm day would have been like sitting in a sauna and add to this a small stall to sit on and a ride that would ensure you did not nod off!

The 4TC set internally is very much as it was when BR sold it to LUL. Externally however the set has been finished in Metropolitan red livery to match the locomotive the route of our tour was from No. 1 platform at Baker Street to Amersham via Watford and returning to Baker Street, again via Watford and also Uxbridge.

Eighty-three members and guests of the Locomotive & Carriage Institution and a smaller number of members of the London Underground Society joined the train at Baker Street Our departure was a bit late owing to the wrong routing of the inward ECS and was with the TC set leading down to Watford where on our arrival some 13 minutes were available for taking photos. Onward to Amersham with Sarah Siddons leading, the journey took about 20 minutes and arrival was on time in platform 1 at 12.11. The train was berthed in platform 1 for one and a half hours whilst the eager masses descended upon an unsuspecting Amersham in the search for food and drink.

During the lunch stop our Hon. Member R.H.N. (Dick) Hardy came to the station (Dick lives in Amersham) to chat with members. Regrettably, I missed him.

Departure from Amersham at 13.43 was on time and the journey to Watford was uneventful but pleasant and it was also made possible for members of the council to take turns to ride on Saran Siddons on the return journey.

The stop at Watford at 14.04 allowed 15 minutes for photography and for alt the council members on the tour to be invited to take part in a group photo in front of Sarah Siddons.

The Chairman, David Kirkland, and myself rode on the locomotive from Watford to Harrow on the Hill and enjoyed a driver’s eye view of the Metropolitan and the lively ride given by Sarah. I was interested in the way Sarah was being driven and in watching the series/parallel lights operating and thinking that an amp meter would be of greater use especially if hand notching has to be used.

From Harrow on the Hill we travelled to Uxbridge where a brief stop allowed us to look at the newly restored art-deco style station with its cast concrete platform canopy and stained glass at the entrance and exit end of the platforms. The present Uxbridge station was opened on 4th December 1938 being on a site closer to the n the original station. The stark concrete structure reflects the age it was and the influence of Holden who did much design work for London Transport during the 1930s.

From Uxbridge we set off once more, this time to a special stop at Neasden for 43 members to take part in the Jubilee Line control room visit. Those remaining on the train returned to Baker Street and the tour’s end.

Our president Nick Agnew conducted those of us at Neasden to the Jubilee line control and training centre where after introductions our party was split into four groups and then dispatched to see the Jubilee line control room, the control training centre and the driver simulator. The fourth group remained for a brief talk by Nick Agnew on the Jubilee Line.

We arrived at Neasden just before 4 pm and did not depart until almost 7pm, such was the interest in this tour and the enthusiasm of those who conducted us around. Before we departed a certificate commemorating our visit was presented.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our President, Nick Agnew, for his work in making this tour and visit possible, all the staff of London Underground who gave their time and efforts, our membership secretary Peter Lindop who made the headboards and our member Graham Vickers who carried out the function of Locomotive & Carriage official photographer.

Thank you one and all.    John Lunn, May 2001.

After the tour on Sarah Siddons, we visited the Jubilee Line Neasden Control Centre where we tried out the Jubilee Line Driver Simulator and the visited the Jubilee Line Main Signalling Control Room.

If you have enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in the following related L&CI visits:

JLE Control

The Jubilee Line Control Room at Neasden, also on 28th April 2001 and

The Jubilee Line Drive Simulator, also on 28th April 2001

"Sarah Siddons Tour 2011" Another Institution tour behind Sarah Siddons, ten years later.

JLE Driver Sim Sarah Siddons 2011