My Favourite Train

LT Underground 1938 Northern Line Stock

A Reprint of an Article in The Coupling of March 2000 - as told by Tony Griffiths to Mike Watts

"I have fond memories of many of the journeys I travelled in my early years, before I left home to get married," said Tony. "Travelling on the Northern Line tube was the only travel we were able to do to any extent from my home near Clapham North. The limits of my journeys were such 'renown' places as Tooting Broadway, Elephant & Castle, the Oval (to see the cricket), and even up to Finsbury Park, for no particular reason."

When London Transport introduced the 'new' standard stock to the Northern Line and the Bakerloo Line in 1938, it became very quickly the definitive 'tube' stock, in line with the standard sub-surface stock of a couple of years earlier.

The new tube stock ran as standard 7-car trains and featured a smooth and stylish flush- sided exterior combined with an uncluttered interior, with underfloor control apparatus. In terms of seat comfort for a tube train, most agree that it has never been bettered in any LT tube stock. Tony agrees with this, "It was as comfortable in the 1960s as when it was new in 1938."

So well-conceived was the 1938 stock that the 1959 replacement stock for the Piccadilly and Central Lines was virtually a carbon copy, except for less comfortable seats.

Your writer can confirm that comfort, for in 1998 he travelled on re-furbished stock now in use on the Isle of Wight line from Ryde. Even its stylish 90s livery suits the 'tube' train very well.

"I used to enjoy standing on the platform as close to the rear exit from the running tunnel to get the blast of air from an oncoming train," says Tony. "Clapham North was good with its island platform deep underground. You could get two trains from opposite directions appear at the same time."

Underground travel had its unfortunate side, of course. "On one journey the train I was on was stuck for over 1 hour half way between the Oval and Clapham North. Without the any loudspeaker system in those days, we had no idea what was happening and no-one could tell us."

"Since that day I have never travelled on the Northern line, as I developed a deep fear of underground trains. This fear has never really gone. A few years ago, on a return visit from Canada, I used the Piccadilly line from Heathrow and many of those old fears came rushing back."

Still, all these fears have not killed Tony's enthusiasm for tube trains completely. He has a model of an LT tube line beneath his SR model railway layout, complete with a 4-car 1938 stock train set, made up from kits from Harrow Model Shop.

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April 2001