1959 tube stock

This page was last revised on 28 June 2002.
Selected occasional additions up to 16 November 2013

This page remains on a black background UFN, in recognition of the Line on which these wonderful machines ended their days.

[PHOTO: 1959 stock arriving in tube: 59kB]

1959 stock being shown the Way Out.
Train 106 arrives at Belsize Park with a service from Morden for Edgware via the Bank, its eleventh journey that day (28 June 1999, about 17:40).


The 1959 Tube Stock worked on the Piccadilly, Central, Bakerloo and Northern Lines over a period of 40 years, up until withdrawal in late 1999. The last-ever public working took place on Thursday 27 January 2000; The last day of the 1959 Tube Stock documents that final working and the end of the era.


Seventy-six trains of 1959 Tube Stock were ordered for the Piccadilly Line, following successful trials with three prototype trains (designated 1956 stock). However, most of the units were delivered first to the Central Line to solve a short-term problem there, but the whole fleet worked the Piccadilly Line from mid-1964.

With the advent of the Heathrow extension, opened in 1977, brand-new 1973-stock trains were brought into use on the Piccadilly Line, displacing its 1959 stock onto the Northern Line. (The Aldywch shuttle did not use 1973 stock until 18 October 1979, so 1962-stock unit 1751 was the last 56/59/62-type train to work on the Piccadilly.)

A convoluted series of tube-train musical chairs arose during the 1980s as a result of several factors, including:

The upshot of this was that a total of 31 trains of 1959 stock operated the Bakerloo Line between 1983 and 1989, forming the complete stock allocation for that line from 21 November 1985 until some point after April 1986. A more detailed commentary on the intricacies of these musical chairs is provided on the 1972 MkII tube stock page.

Key dates for 1959 Tube Stock
1959 December 14 First train in service (Piccadilly Line, formed 1012+1015)
1960 July 25 First (temporary) Central Line operation
1975 December 1 First Northern Line working
1979 October 5 Last Piccadilly Line working (unit 1219 with ’62ts unit 1728)
1983 February 28 Bakerloo Line operation (until before 1989 July 7)
2000 January 27 Last day of operation in service (Northern Line, formed 1256+1187, train 132)

From 1975 to 2000 the 1959 stock provided remarkably reliable service on the Northern Line, where it long outlasted its expected lifespan. It worked alongside 1938 stock (until 1989); it hugely outlived the 1972 MkI tube stock (1972 to 1999); and its replacement, the so-called 1995 tube stock, entered service between July 1998 and April 2001!


[PHOTO: guard in position on old train, daytime: 48kB]

Together with the 1959 stock, Guards have been shown the Way Out as well.

On all current stocks, his duties are carried out by the Train Operator. At Edgware, the guard watches for the starter signal to clear before closing the doors and belling his train away. The rear unit is 1031, half of the Heritage train (Sunday 13 June 1999).

From mid-1998, and over the course of the following 15 months, the vast majority of the fleet was withdrawn from service; following decommissioning at Ruislip or Morden depots, the condemned stock departed for Mayer Parry recycling at Newmarket, Cambridgeshire. That from Ruislip left by rail, typically hauled by a class 37 loco, but units at Morden were split into individual cars and winched onto Allely’s low loaders to make their final journey by road.

In late spring 1999, it was rumoured that the planned summer closure of the Bank branch (Moorgate to Kennington southbound only, 3 July to 4 September inclusive, for relining of some curves in the tunnels) would reduce the stock-requirement enough that the remaining 1959 tube stock could be withdrawn; this turned out not to be the case, however, and a smattering of 1959 stock trains continued to operate in the peaks subsequently. By November 1999 there were about 15 trains left that could be used for passenger service, and these were quickly taken out of use as the weeks went by.

Your writer, although not then an employee of LUL, had the opportunity to take part in a spares reclaimation exercise at Morden depot which happened to involve part of the very first 1959-stock train built: two cars of unit 1015. At lunchtime on Wednesday 17 November 1999, the scrappers’ foreman said, OK, let’s have 1015 over then. The Duty Depot Manager stammered back, But it’s going out in service in the evening peak tonight…, to which the reply was All right then, we’ll scrap it when it gets back!. Unit 1015, which with unit 1012 had worked that first-ever ’59-stock service in December 1959, therefore operated over a period spanning just 28 days short of 40 years. Our exercise was the following weekend; Mayer Parry got half a tonne less metal off that unit than they expected…

A programme of further modifications to the new 1995 stock trains meant that there would not be reliably enough to provide the full service the while, and this gave 1959 stock (and the last few Guards) a little breathing-space until January 2000.

Final weeks: January 2000

When New Year’s Day 2000 dawned, it was to a meagre four trains of 1959 stock that were in a fit state to run in service. There had been talk of their being withdrawn in the week before Christmas, returning for a one-off fling over the night of the millennium to reduce the cost of collateral damage by drunken revellers; this never happened, as far as I know. However, these trains were kept on for use on weekdays in peak hours and evenings only: two trains in service (working any of four diagrams), two sitting as spares at Edgware depot. Guards were rostered for these trains up to the end of the last full week in January 2000 (week ending 28th).

The four trains came into use after the bank holidays finished, on Tuesday 4 January. Two of them were retrospectively withdrawn on that day, leaving just two trains available for service (1032+1307 and 1256+1187). Three days later on Friday 7 January, and at zero notice, Alstom decided it could do without that safety net: a friend happened to be travelling on train 132 (Morden – Edgware – Morden) that evening, formed 1032+1307, and takes up the story:

At Camden Town northbound, I saw on the dot matrix that we were now reversing at Golders Green. At Hampstead, the driver announced that we would be terminating at Golders, and we swung into the loop (sure enough, G38 showed no aspect) and terminated in the middle platform. I walked to the front car, 1307; There was a whole crowd of us there, the signal cleared and off we went back south. The driver had been quite slow on the way up, but we were in parallel most of the way…

Now for the sad bit, at Golders the driver told me that this would be the last journey for 1032+1307, and he made announcements at Euston, Kennington and Stockwell telling the punters that. After Tooting Broadway, with only a few people on the train the guard turned the lights off and the driver opened the J door. Naturally, we all crowded around but couldn’t see much. At Morden we arrived in platform 1/2, and the guard/driver used the porter buttons for the last time. Finally, 1032+1307 departed for the depot, the driver took it out at 5mph so we all followed it along the platform. Then it disappeared into the depot; it was 30 minutes before I could bear travelling in a 95 again…

That weekend I received the above email, and other emails informing me that, in a surprise move by Alstom, the last 1959-stock train had already run. Somewhat crossly I rang Northern Line headquarters who seemed not to be aware of the fact, and were not in a position to say whether — nor when — a final fling might take place. There was further confusion the following Monday (10 January) when trains 134 and 153 were formed with both remaining trains of 1959 stock in the morning peak (1256+1187 and 1032+1307 respectively); so my friend’s last journey in 1307 had turned out not to be so.

Comment: I stumbled upon 1032+1307 in mid-July 2000 during an LURS visit to Lillie Bridge depot, where I found it hidden away in a corner awaiting possible conversion for weedkilling or tunnel-cleaning duties. These did not come to fruition. Cars 1307 and 2306 left Lillie Bridge (by road, as did the others) on 23 July 2001 to storage for possible future filming, and were spotted in a Norfolk scrapyard six months later. DM 1306 went to the Police Training Centre at Denton, Kent on 27 September 2001 (and was still there & intact in April 2007); and the four cars of unit 1032 went straight to the scrapyard of Booths, Rotherham, on 13-27 February 2002.

After 10 January, the silence was deafening: none of the enthusiasts, employees or official sources with whom I’d shared information seemed to know what might be going on. I now know that 1256+1187 went on to form train 43 for one round trip during the morning peak on Friday 14, and that the working on 10 January was the final outing for 1032+1307. After these, however, there were no further ’59-stock workings.

Except, that is, for the official Last Train. This was arranged at short notice and, with confirmation that there would be no farewell railtour, a large crowd of enthusiasts and well-wishers was anticipated.

A special page — The last day of the 1959 Tube Stock — takes up the story, and includes full coverage of the last-ever public workings for these veteran machines, which took place on Thursday 27 January 2000.

1956 prototype stock

Three 7-car prototype trains were ordered from three different manufacturers; they were numbered 1000+1003, 1004+1007 and 1008+1011. The unit and car numbering-scheme was continued with the 1959 stock, which is why 1959-stock numbering begins with unit 1012. The 1956 stock trains were each slightly different, but were of similar overall specification and general appearance. These lasted in service until the 1990s, but were gone before such time as I took an active interest in these matters; therefore I have no photographs of them, nor did I knowingly travel on one.

The Heritage train

For the Northern Line’s Centenary celebrations in 1990, a train of 1959 stock was refurbished to reflect the style of decor used in the early 1920s. Its outside was painted deep red, with maroon doors, cream window-surrounds and black lining; inside, specially-commissioned seating moquette and cerulean blue paintwork was the order of the day. Although withdrawn from service along with the rest of the ’59 stock, parts of both units have been saved for years to come. Photographs, information and details of the part-preservation of this Heritage train have been compiled on a separate page.

Sister trains: 1962 stock

The fleet of (virtually identical) 1962 stock trains which ran on the Central Line was largely withdrawn when the 1992 stock was delivered to replace it: a few units of ’62 stock were retained for passenger use on the Northern Line until late 1999, where they were treated interchangeably with ’59 stock units. The ’62 stock has its own page. Throughout this site a general reference to ’59 stock should be taken to include these few units of ’62 stock latterly used on the Northern Line, except when discussing specific units or differences.


Help Wanted: Roger Brown, who owns 3 of the 4 cars of unit 1304, wishes to sell them or otherwise seeks financial/practical assistance (and the remaining car 1305’s owner is prepared to donate it); subject to the four cars being preserved as a single entity. Can you help? Want to know more? email me.

Only one single car of operational 1959 stock is still in use: NDM car 9125 which forms part of the (otherwise 1962-stock) Central Line Sandite train; that train has recently been cosmetically overhauled and is no longer silver.

Four separate cars from the two units of the Heritage train have been preserved, at Mangapps Farm in Essex, and on the Alderney Railway in the English Channel. A further car of it has been re-refurbished at Morden where it rests on a plinth and is used as a classroom and training room. A proposal by Cravens Heritage Trains Ltd to preserve the four-car unit 1044 did not mature owing to lack of manpower, space and funds.

[PHOTO: 1959 stock DM car in a garden: 22kB]

However, former Northern Line regular traveller Mike Kelly acquired DM 1304 and had begun restoring it to mid-life condition in a Herefordshire garden. Thanks to Mike for the photo opposite. (See also Underground News 455, November 1999 and 472, April 2001.) Owing to a house-move, in June 2004 Mike’s 1304 passed into the hands — and garden! — of Roger Brown who already owns 1018-2018 (see below).

Driving Motor car 1305 (the other end of the unit that Mike Kelly’s DM came from) was removed from storage (awaiting scrapping) at Shoeburyness on 28 November 2000 and taken elsewhere in Essex. It now resides at the Sutton Hall Railway in private preservation — but I gather they are looking to pass it on to a good home.

DM car 1018 was in store at Shoeburyness but was sold on 17 October 2001 to the London’s Transport Museum, to whose Depot at Acton the car was eventually to return. However, this sale must either never have actually taken place, or been subsequently undone: for it never returned to LT metals. Your editor feels it is a pity that even the LT Museum was prepared to give up on having a car of 56/59/62 tube stock in its collection.

Instead, after months of planning and waiting, 1018 and adjacent trailer car 2018 were removed by road on Thursday 23 and Friday 24 October 2003 respectively. They went to Dorset for private preservation; their new owner, Roger Brown, tantalisingly reveals that they are just visible from the Down side of trains on the Salisbury–Exeter line, about three miles east of Gillingham station. In the evening of 25 June 2004 these were joined by Mike Kelly’s 1304. Although Roger considered selling his three carriages (1) due to increased work commitments, he has actually ended up arranging to acquire another three! These would be 2304 and 9305 from Shoeburyness, and 1305 from the Sutton Hall Railway (see above); this collection would enable unit 1304 (1304-2304-9305-1305) to be re-formed, with his original carriages 1018-2018 being used as spare-parts donors for unit 1304.

On 20 October 2005, 2304 and 9305 were delivered to a secure site in Wiltshire; these were the last two cars of 1959/1962 tube stock to leave long-term storage at MOD Shoeburyness.

(1) — My garden isn’t quite big enough for even one carriage; delivery would also require a weekend road closure and one of those cranes that arrives in pieces on several rear-steer multi-axle low loaders, and has 100-tonne counterweights!

With the last of the 1959/62 stock type withdrawn from LUL passenger service, the title of oldest passenger stock now belongs to the Metropolitan Line’s A60/62 stock which dates from 1960: that fleet was fully refurbished in the late 1990s, the trains frequently being mistaken for new!


[PHOTO: 1959 stock arriving in tube: 30kB]

Above: This picture was a reject from my Re-opening of Mornington Crescent page, but I have included it here for completeness. The location is Mornington Crescent, southbound platform, the date and time are 1998 April 27 at a little before a quarter past noon.

[PHOTO: 1959 stock arriving (in daylight): 46kB]

Above: Train 103 arrives at Finchley Central platform 1 with a train from Morden to Mill Hill East via Bank.

The leading unit is 1108 and the rear would almost certainly have been 1255 (sightings suggest they ran as a pair at that time). As can be seen through the window, the master controller is in the shut off position. Although number 1 is the usual platform for Mill Hill departures, at that time one train per day (T156 at 0611 Mon-Fri, T017 at 0627 Sat) departed from platform 2 in service, presumably as a rusty-rail working. On the front corners of the train can be seen black studs where the corner grab-rails used to be (see here for an example where they remain intact); they were removed in the (?) late 1980s or early 1990s to discourage surfers.

The black paint on the train’s roof dome has begun to peel away, exposing grey which was probably applied when the train was transferred from the Piccadilly in about 1976; one headlight has blown, and a heavy graffiti-attack has been incompletely removed. All these portend a lack of TLC on the part of Alstom Train Services Ltd, who took over maintenence of the outgoing trains as well as provision of the new ones. (Saturday 1 May 1999, scheduled as 18:27)

[PHOTO: 1959 stock interior (daytime, doors open): 53kB]

Above: The leading car (1108) of the train featured above is seen here upon arrival at Mill Hill East.

Most of the seat-cushions are in the blue/green livery (though a few orange/white/black ones can be seen at the far end by the J door) and the use of grey strap-hanger bobbles in place of black appears random. The doorway area sports the dove grey paint which was the norm on this stock.

[PHOTO: 1959 stock interior (daytime, portrait): 50kB]

Above: Another carriage from the same train as illustrated in the previous photo.

The lack of floor hatches for compressor access confirms that this is not a trailer car; the seat-corner grab handles in the extreme lower corners of this shot prove that I took it from the adjacent car, and there is no cab at either end: it must the the one NDM (Non Driving Motor, 9xxx) car in the train! The small floor hatch at the lower edge of the picture would be used when lifting the shoegear to isolate a car; again, trailers were different because they had no shoegear.

During our call at Mill Hill East (see above) I had walked back to the inner end of this unit, 1109, and took this rearward-facing shot of 9109 as we returned to Finchley Central. All seats in this car carry the orange/black/white Northern Line seating moquette, and all strap-hangers appear to be of the grey variety. Visible along the No. 1 side of the ceiling (the right-hand side as seen when looking towards the ‘A’ end, thus proving direction of view) is a plastic conduit which carries the Passenger Emergency Alarm (PEA) buttons and Public Address loudspeakers; these were installed as a 1959/62 stock-wide engineering modification in 1989-90.

[PHOTO: Two different types of seating moquette: 62kB]

Above: A closer view of the different seating-moquettes which appeared concurrently on this stock, even on the same seat as seen here in car 1109 (see above).

The seat-back carries a livery which also appeared on the unrefurbished 1973 stock, while the squab is upholstered in the standard Northern Line moquette that was fitted to all of the 1972 MkI trains. Exactly why there should be this mixture is unclear at the moment, but this second pattern (the 1980s official Northern Line moquette) was used on the 1959 stock for several years, as opposed to being drafted in from scrap 72/1s.

[PHOTO: 1959 stock interior (in tube): 52kB]

1959 car with experimental interior livery.

The interior of the cars looks fairly unpleasant here, largely because of the harsh lighting which has underexposed the rest of the shot. The windows in this stock pre-date the introduction of long, rectangular windows in metal frames: they are roughly square and wooden-framed. The panelling and door areas are cream-coloured instead of the standard dove grey, because this unit (number not recorded) is one of about 25 which were given interior repaints in experimental colours: yellow, lilac, catkin, and garland green.

This photo was taken on the evening of 1998 August 8, in a tube station (note the doors open on the left). I didn’t note which station we were at, but subsequently I spotted the fatter-than-usual blue bar in the LU roundel, visible through the open doorway above the draught screen. I know that I went via the City Branch all the way to Morden, and after looking at the original print of the photo I can reveal that this is the southbound platform at South Wimbledon (Merton), which has the (Merton) written below the South Wimbledon on the roundels. I have also attempted to identify which carriage of the train I am in:

The platform appears on the left but, since the platforms are on the right at South Wimbledon, I must be facing rearwards; at the rear of this car can be seen the guard’s panels (as in next picture), so the car must be a Driving Motor: we can eliminate two of the four DM cars because they would have the guard’s panel at the front end (with the Guard working one of them). Only one DM car in each unit has an active cab, the other is mothballed and relegated to forming the middle of the train because Train Radio has not been fitted; usual practice has been to mothball the guard’s panels in Middle DM cars too. Since, in the next picture, these panels appear to be non-mothballed, and we already established that they are at the rear of the car, this must be the front car in the train: my back is therefore against the ‘J’ door leading into the cab where the driver is.

[PHOTO: 1959 stock, guard's position: 56kB]

The Guard’s position on 1959 tube stock

The Guard’s position looks as if it has seen many years of service; it consists of two panels like this, the one on the left being almost a mirror-image of this one. A tip-up seat, seen at bottom left, is provided, and a bar is slid into position across the gangway to segregate the Guard’s area when in use. Incidentally, this right-hand panel is labelled 2, which makes this car an ‘A’-end Driving Motor: if it were a ‘D’-end, the numbers would be the other way round (see below). This narrows down the number of cars that this (and the previous) could be, since we can now establish that it is the leading DM of an ‘A’-end ’59-stock unit (therefore a 4-car) carrying experimental interior paintwork!

Three banks of buttons are seen here: that nearest the door, top to bottom, is (Pilot light), Local Open, Local Close; along the bottom right to left, is Open, Close, Open, Signal; both Open buttons are pushed to open the doors on this side of the train; the signal button has a raised rim around it to ensure it is not pressed accidentally. Left-hand bank, top to bottom, is Rear doors cut-in, rear doors cut-out, heating on, heating off. Note the vertical grab bar next to the door, which the Guard can hang on to whilst looking out of the door as the train departs from each platform.

In the top-left portion of the control panel is the train intercom: the driver presses the button on the right and speaks into the mouthpiece on the left, the driver’s reply being heard via the loudspeaker below. On the left in the plyboard surround is an air-pressure gauge which, when I studied it, remained at exactly 65psi throughout my journey, so I believe it is reading the pressure in the brake pipe. The Guard would know straight away if an auto air brake application were made (e.g. as required at the station before a terminal station, or in the event of the deadman being released or the train being ‘tripped’ on a train-stop). The large handle near the ceiling is the emergency brake handle which opens the brake pipe to the atmosphere, and would be used both during Testing The Brake, and if the guard needed to stop the train immediately (such as if someone were caught in the doors). On the opposite-side panel, there is no pressure gauge, emergency handle or intercom, and the heating buttons are exchanged for ones controlling the carriage lighting; a tip-down shelf is provided, which I have only seen used by the Guard for putting his bag on, but presumably it was originally intended as something to rest on whilst filling in the Guard’s log. All the controls are enabled by the Guard inserting his position key and rotating it about a vertical axis, in an aperture at the top of the left-hand panel beneath a hinged lid. This photo was taken at the same occasion and same train as the previous, so the guard’s panel is painted in cream rather than dove grey.

[PHOTO (blurred): 1959 stock approaching in tube station: 38kB]

Above: A northbound Northern Line train pulls into Kennington platform 1 with a train for High Barnet.

A northbound train approaches at Kennington platform 1; the high-intensity headlight certainly lives up to its name in this picture, but it is worth noting that it is a fairly recent addition: motormen used not to have anything except the headcode lamps and so drove basically blind through the tunnels, seeing only the signal lamps and perhaps the lights of the next station. The shape which appears black in the central window (in the ‘M’ door) is the motorman’s jacket which is hung on the hook provided on the inside of the J door. (1998 November 1 at 18:24)

[PHOTO: 1959 stock with doors open, in tube station: 47kB]

Above: A look back along the northbound Northern Line train featured above, now waiting in Kennington platform 1 for the correct departure time, when it will run via Charing Cross to High Barnet.

This is train number 062, formed with the ‘D’-end unit 1182-2182-1183 (left to right) leading, seen at 18:24 on November 1, 1998 after it had run round the loop; the number 2 guard’s panel (left-hand side on ‘D’ ends) can be seen at the nearby open door.

[PHOTO: 1959 stock in wide tube station: 45kB]

Above: In the rather gloomy half-light of the extra-large Euston platform 6 (southbound Northern Line, City branch), a Morden-bound train of 1959 stock sits with its doors closed for an instant prior to departure.

When the Guard has seen the Pilot Light illuminate to show all doors are closed, he will press the Signal button which rings the bell in the motorman’s cab; unlike on National Railways, a single ding meant Start. Careful observation reveals the mainly-obscured guard standing by his open ‘local’ door at the rear of the train. To the left can be seen the boarding which covers up the mouth of the disused northbound tunnel, whose track passed beneath where I am crouching, until the 1960s.

I am at the eastern end of a pair of platforms (southern end if you’re on this Northern Line platform, northern end if you’re on the Victoria Line platform to my left, but eastern end if you’re looking at a map! (1998 November 1 at around 19:30)

[PHOTO: Morden with 2x '59 stock (telephoto): 71kB]

Above: Northern Line trains at the line’s southern terminus of Morden.

The vantage-point for this foreshortened view is directly above the start of the twin tunnels, which form the longest tunnels on London Underground: 17.25 miles to East Finchley (via Bank). I have to admit that I took the idea of photographing at this spot from John Glover, who uses it to good effect in his book, London Underground in Colour; however, as he waited for all three platforms to contain 1959 stock trains and also chose a sunny day, his result was more pleasing! Of note is the three-road, five-platform-face layout, with the lines to Morden depot visible in the centre beyond the bridge; also, the many short lengths of negative (central) conductor-rail, and small wooden deflectors either side of each crossing rail that prevent the negative shoes from being knocked off. The ’59-stock train pulling out from platform 1 & 2 is for Golders Green via Bank, that sitting in platform 5 waiting to run to High Barnet via Charing Cross. (1998 November 21)

It is worth noting that both this view, and that shown in the next photo, have changed considerably since these photos were taken. A sizeable and permanent two-storey portakabin-like affair has been erected on a concrete-and-steel-girders raft which covers the whole width of the north end of the station platforms — this is Garth House, which opened in October 2000 and contains a new Traincrew Depot (with sign-on point, canteen, mess-room, lockers, and so forth). The exterior of the elegant curved station canopy can only be seen from beneath or at close quarters, and an oppressive gloom pervades the half of the station which used not already to be covered by a building! I shall have to return to this spot and take a comparison photograph. Perhaps a reader who uses it can tell how it compares to the old accommodation which was to the west of platform 5 (access via footbridge)?

[PHOTO: 59 stock arrives with 95 stock looking on: 60kB]

A train of 1959 stock arrives, as 1995 stock awaits departure.

A train of long-serving 1959 tube stock is seen crossing over to arrive at Morden platforms 3 and 4, watched by its new cousin on the right (with DM 51705 showing). The building seen above the cab of the incoming train was, at the time, a crew toilet, wash room and tea point. However, as explained in the previous caption, much has changed at Morden since then and so makes this view of historical interest. But back on 21 November 1998, as the new stock took hold of the line, so the old stock was beginning to return to its depots for the last time…