The “Heritage” 1959 tube stock train

This page was last revised on 28 June 2002,
with minor selected updates on 15 May 2011, 26 June 2013, 15 May 2018 and 14 September 2021.

The Northern Line’s 100th birthday

In 1990 the Northern Line celebrated its 100th anniversary, and it was decided to refurbish one train of 1959 tube stock in the style of a bygone era. Piers Connor, who worked for London Underground at the time, explained to the newsgroup his involvement in the project and what work was done; his explanation (dated April 1998) is reprinted here by kind permission:

The red painted train with the “cerulean blue” interiors and 1920s upholstery was a labour of love which I personally instituted for the 100th birthday celebrations for the Northern Line when I worked for LU. I selected this livery because it was the best LU ever had (1922 to 1927 approx.) and I managed to find the original specs for the seat materials which were specially prepared for us by John Holdsworths of Halifax — who made the original cloth in the 1920s.

It’s a pity that they can’t keep the 7 cars together but a railway is for the passengers not the gricers so as long as it has round wheels and glass in the windows, it will run.

The Railway Technical Web Pages, run by Piers, is a mine of useful information.

As Piers says, since 1990 the two units which formed the train — 1044 and 1031 (DM car 1031 used to be car number 1085) — tended to be paired with one of the many unpainted ones, there being no reason (save nostalgic) to run them together. During the first three months of 1999, they did operate as a pair, but were then split again. The two units operated very well independently, but suffered from spurious door and electrical problems when coupled together. At one time it was anticipated that one or both of the units would be used for a “1959 stock farewell tour”, but this never happened.

Withdrawal and Preservation

Unit 1031

Unit 1031 was a stalwart of the fleet: only four of the 152 units of 1959 stock outlasted it, and they were all built later too!. For some weeks 1031 had been running with unpainted unit 1300, and the pair remained in traffic until formal withdrawal on 4 January 2000 (their last run in service was probably before the New Year, however). Unpainted unit 1300 was sent for scrap shortly afterwards, but 1031 lingered on “out the back” at Morden depot on No. 16 road until the unit was split into its component cars in April 2000.

This is the fate of the three cars of Unit 1031:

Unit 1044

Unit 1044 meanwhile had been sitting “stopped” in Morden depot since June 1999, following a serious Door Irregularity problem which went something like this:

The guard realised he had no pilot light whilst the train was moving, and found that doors were opening spuriously between stations. At first, he was worried he’d opened them by accident, and the driver was afraid he might have left without the bell, but CCTV proved that the doors had opened of their own accord all at different times. Given the above, and that a previous guard had taken the train out of service for similar reasons (he got the pilot light when he could hear doors still closing), it’s not surprising that the unit was put to one side in the depot. Apparently 1044 was “rough shunted” at some point, which might have been a contributory factor in this fault appearing.

That was in mid-summer 1999, and although 1044 was technically not scrapped during the interim, it never ran in passenger service after that point. It was retrospectively given an official withdrawal date of 23 June 1999, which might be presumed to be the date of the above incident. It was subsequently considered for possible preservation by Cravens Heritage Trains Ltd. and, coupled to 1962-stock unit 1751, was moved under its own power from Golders Green to Ruislip on 25 January 2000. However, Cravens Heritage Trains decided — perhaps wisely — that they had neither a location to put the train, nor the funds and manpower to preserve it, and so they turned it down. 1751 went for scrap in July 2000, but happily it was not the end of the line for 1044…

This is the fate of the four cars of Unit 1044:


[PHOTO: Heritage ’59-stock 3-car in tube station: 53kB]

Unit 1031 calling at the extra-wide southbound platform at Angel.

Having just travelled from King’s Cross, at Angel I alighted from the Heritage train which was operating a southbound City-branch service: I just captured it on film as the doors started to close. Angel’s extra-wide southbound platform provides more space for the photographer to try different angles and, being recently converted from its two-track layout, is well lit.

Each train of 1959 tube stock was made from two units, one being a 3-car, the other a 4-car; the rear unit (seen here) is the 3-car “half” of the Heritage train, and is formed of 1030-2030-1031 (1030 nearest camera). Gold lettering has been used for the car-numbers and “UndergrounD” legends on the outside, whilst the rich greeny colour inside is the cerulean blue that Piers mentions above. (1998 November 7, at 16:37)

[PHOTO: Interior of Heritage tube train, in tunnel: 51kB]

The interior of car 1031, showing the Cerulean Blue paintwork (which actually looks green).

This interior view of leading DM car 1031 shows the specially-commissioned seating-moquette to advantage, and was taken at Camden Town southbound (ex Barnet; note the tiling visible through the closing doors) on January 29 1999 when the pair of units was together. This shot has been over-exposed to avoid the “harsh lighting” effect seen on the main 1959 stock page: however, despite the use of fluorescent tubes for most of the internal lighting, in the same way as normal, the atmosphere inside these sets was rather more relaxing and peaceful in my experience than the somewhat austere grey or yellow usually applied. Recordings prove that the noise-quality remained constant, however!

[PHOTO: Guard’s panel of Heritage tube train: 64kB]

A Guard’s control-panel on car 1031.

From the same car and occasion as the above: As this is a ‘D’ end Driving Motor car, the No. 2 Guard’s Panel is on the left as seen from the saloon; it too has been given a coat of Cerulean Blue paint, which is gradually peeling off as a result of wear & tear. This panel can be compared to an example of a right-hand panel, revealing a difference in button layout because the right-hand panel has to fit in the Loudaphone set.

[PHOTO: Heritage train disappearing into tube at Morden (day): 77kB]

The “Heritage” train departing Morden, with unit 1044 at the rear.

Unit 1044, bringing up the rear of train 007, leaves Morden platform 5 with a service to High Barnet via the Bank; within seconds the train will see no more daylight for a nominal 17 miles and 528 yards — the longest railway tunnel in Great Britain (but I make it 17 miles and 209 yards, from Quail: which is right?). With the bodysides scarlet, the doors maroon, grey for the roof and cream with black lining around the windows, this train is a pleasure to look at and brightened the day up for commuters when they happened to catch it. The vantage-point for this picture is clearly visible, as is the southbound tube, and the yellow Section Switch box — that one being for the negative rail of section 405, as denoted by the black sign and letter A. (Friday 12 February 1999)