Gorgeous 1930s Art Deco Trains Might Return to The Tube

By Holly Brockwell on at

The London Transport Museum is busily restoring three beautiful 1930s tube carriages that were withdrawn from service almost 50 years ago.

The plan is to get the 1935 and 1938 art deco carriages, known as 'Q stock', back to operational condition so they can be included in the LTM's 'heritage vehicle' events, in which people buy tickets to ride on retro vehicles from London's past.

The ambitious project was kickstarted by a bequest and some donations from friends of London Transport Museum. There's still £200,000 to raise, though, and LTM is asking for the public's help in getting these gorgeous carriages back on the rails.

Q35 at Ealing Common depot in 1936

The history attached to the carriages is phenomenal: they carried Londoners through the wartime evacuations of the thirties, the rebuilding efforts of the forties, the new hope of the fifties and the decadence of the swinging sixties. One carriage will be dedicated to each of those periods, to tell the stories of the trains and the people who rode in them.

Q38 at Earls Court in 1939

Q38 on the Eastbound District Line at Charing Cross, now Embankment, in 1956

The work is being completed by volunteers, "a mix of retired London Underground drivers, guards and engineers and people passionate about preserving London’s history." There's a lot of work to do: the compressors that powered the manually-opened doors need to be fixed, the wiring in the many 1930s fluted lampshades has to be brought up to modern standards (and they've had to order a tonne of replacement lampshades, more than they needed according to Ian Visits, so some of the surplus might be on sale soon), and there's damage from asbestos removal to be fixed.

Passengers on a Q35 Stock District Line train in 1944

Here's what the insides of the carriages look like at the moment:

They'll also need new signalling equipment if they're going to run on the modern rails, but that part is up in the air because it's pretty complex – they might have to just be static units, albeit with working features like the doors and lights.

If you'd like to help the London Transport Museum restore these pieces of travel history to their former glory, you can donate to the campaign here.

All images courtesy of the London Transport Museum.