Back in October of 2011 I did a post about the renovation of the oldest extant London Underground railway carriage - Metropolitan Railway Carriage Number 353, originally constructed and in use from 1892. Plans were well underway to restore 353 to its former 19th-century glory in time for 2013, the 150th anniversary of the London Underground system. I wondered then just what form these celebrations might take and how 353 would fit into them and now 2 years later, with 2013 rapidly approaching, the events to mark this momentous milestone have been revealed.
London Underground celebrations to mark 150 years
What splendid events they sound, too! Transport for London and the London Transport Museum have really pulled out all the stops to make these celebrations something to remember. For not only has Carriage No. 353 been fully restored - an impressive and laudable event in itself - but it will actually run on the Underground on two dates in January as the start of a year-long commemoration.
It gets even better. Four additional coaches of 1898 vintage will also accompany 353 on these special excursions. One of the oldest working electric locomotives, the 1922 Sarah Siddons, will be on hand to assist in the towing of these carriages. "Assist" because... the work will be shared with one of the last surviving Underground steam trains - Metropolitan Railway Locomotive No. 1. That's right - an 1898 steam engine is going to pull 19th-century carriages along a stretch of the London Underground!
In pictures: Steam train to recreate London Tube journey
I'm sure it will be an amazing experience - a real time warp - for those who will win the ballot that the London Transport Museum has deemed necessary to decide who can purchase tickets for these historical journeys. In any event it is an incredible way to mark 150 years of the world's first underground passenger railway and begins a whole year's worth of special events including: further heritage rail trips, books & poems, displays & exhibits, commemorative £2 coins, LU memorabilia and even a series of theatre events at the old Aldwych Underground station. So even if you can't get to see (or like me can't afford to see) these oldest survivors there is bound to be something else to take your fancy and suit your pocket. Well done to TfL/LTM and happy birthday to the London Underground!