Past and Present: Word play on the Underground

Last Christmas a former colleague of mine from my days in London sent me this Christmas card (right) seasonally playing around with well-known places on the London Underground, writes Ian Lamb.

Apart from the humour attached to the exercise, the system itself is often overlooked in model railway scenes in favour of more conventional transport locations and rolling stock.

Two multi-car sets of 1992 Tube stock allocated to the Central Line fill the platforms at the London Underground’s eastern terminus at Epping station in August 2013. Ian Lamb

Additionally, in one sense a part of the former Central Line has been preserved as the Epping-Ongar Railway, while initially 1938 London Metropolitan stock found itself as steam replacements on the Isle of Wight Railway.

Just crying out to be modelled! Smallbrook Junction signal box token exchange. Dave Coasby

So many railways in Britain were established around 150 years ago. Purely by force of numbers in terms of passenger use – never mind any other criteria – London Underground is probably the best remembered, appropriately celebrating the occasion of achieving 150 years’ service in 2013.

However, at the same time as the London Underground was reaching 100 years in 1963, a good friend of mine – Dave Coasby – as a 16-year-old, with a cycling friend, took a holiday on the Isle of Wight, and was able to record the railway when it was steam operated.

“Both of us were ‘mad on trains’ and as we approached Ryde Pier Head the inevitable plume of steam could be seen from the railway station on the pier.”

Dave went on to say: “I’d fallen in love with the diminutive Adams 02 tank locos that were to be found there some years earlier when my family would travel to the IOW for our summer holidays.

If you prefer your models ‘off-the-shelf, ready-to-run’ then it’s worth considering Bachmann’s ‘S’ (metropolitan as against Tube stock) set, produced exclusively for the London Transport Museum.

They always seemed to be kept so clean and although small and having only a two-digit number (14 to 36 with gaps owing to scrapping) they all had nameplates of towns or villages on the island.

But it wasn’t just the locos that fascinated me, the rolling stock – be it passenger or goods – was such a mishmash of ancient and patched-up stock, although it has to be said, the coaches were kept in very presentable condition.”

For the full article, see December’s edition of Modelling – available now!

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