The old Waterloo & City Line shut 25 years ago

The old Waterloo & City Line shut 25 years ago

Twenty-five years ago today the Waterloo & City Line – as London knew it closed for good. The old line or the ‘Drain’ as it was affectionately known to Londoners had reached the end of its days. Friday May 28th 1993, was a whole day of celebrations and countless numbers of well wishers who had come to see the old trains work their last services between Waterloo and Bank.

Waterloo station on the day the old services ended 25 years ago.

Notice announcing modernisation of the line.

May 1993 was indeed the end of the old Waterloo and City Railway. It became what was essentially a new tube line with new stock and LU’s fourth rail system. It shut for two months to allow full replacement of the trains and total conversion of the lines and signalling to take place. Prior to the 28th some of the work had been partially undertaken and evidence of LU’s fourth rail system could already be seen as well as cables for the new signalling system.

The following photographs were from a batch I took on the final day of the old order on the Waterloo & City line. They were somewhat dark thus the dynamic range is a bit off.

On 28 May we say goodbye to the City.

The old trains were in fact Southern era ones. They had elements of the Southern Railway still evident inside. Nowhere on the systems owned by British Rail was there any railway stock of such vintage!

The trains’ styling which was clearly art deco varied among the different carriages. The motor coaches had their own little passenger compartments, whilst the non-motor stock had seats at both ends raised above the bogies. They were most unusual, and no other train of this sort has ever been seen elsewhere on the tube.

The art deco nature of the trains no doubt meant these were the last survivors featuring that classic style to be employed on public train services in the UK. The ones previous to these (on the surface main lines of the UK) had probably all been withdrawn by the sixties! (The last survivor was in fact one used on the West Highland line until 1968.)

Photographers at Bank.

Toward the end of the 1980s the 1940 rolling stock fleet was giving increasingly difficult service. They were of similar vintage to the 1938 tube stock however their design was entirely different. Each train consisted of driving motor coaches (which could be driven on their own) and non-motor carriages.

The only time one would see the single motor coaches in operation would be during any shunting work that might be needed at Waterloo.

The lovely wooden trimming and partition on the old motorcoaches which created a sort of private compartment area.

Bank station 15.57pm 28th May 1993.

Train at Bank in the afternoon of 28th May 1993.

The old trains were fast trains and quite stable but that was on the straight sections of the line. For some reason they swayed quite alarmingly through the curves en route and at times the swaying was so bad one would almost feel nauseated. That was perhaps the one problem with these lovely old trains.

Waterloo on the Friday afternoon – about six hours left before the services ended.

The nice smooth run at either end of the line would always become unsteady and the carriages swayed alarmingly once the trains hit the line’s first sharp curves in either direction. The section running under the eastern end of Stamford Street as the line tries to follow a sinuous course beneath Upper Ground, Hatfields and Stamford Street was indeed very sharply curved.

If one was not careful it was quite possible to be thrown off one’s seat. Not to worry there were plenty of grab rails up and down the carriages so anyone wishing to hold on and steady themselves could do so.

Interior of one of the non-motor coaches.

In some ways this was a draw of the old trains, that roller coaster sensation that took unsuspecting travellers by surprise – nowhere else on any other railway in the world (besides an amusement park) did one get the sensation that could be found on the Waterloo and City Line.

The driver’s cab.

The glorious Network South East livery on a real NSE train at Waterloo!

The decision was taken to change the look of the Waterloo and City Line came about because of the construction of the 1992 stock for the Central Line. It was decided to extend the construction of these trains to allow for an allocation to the Waterloo and City. The work meant the fourth rail system had to be installed and a new aluminium centre current rail was provided.

Aluminum central contact rail already in place at Waterloo on 28th May 1993.

Although some of the work had been done prior to closure (as my pictures show there was indeed aluminum centre fourth rail in place within Waterloo station) the closure was necessary to be able to do this work in the tunnels as well as new cabling for a new signalling system etc. (The original steel positive rails were eventually replaced in 2008 with aluminum rails.)

Ultimately the 1993 upgrade meant the line was controlled entirely from Waterloo – the old system had a signal cabin at Bank used only during rush hours – so that was no longer needed.

The old signal cabin at Bank.

The new stock was initially known as Class 482. When LU took over the Waterloo and City in 1994 this designation was dropped as they were essentially 1992 stock. For the record the old trains had been known as Class 487.

Guys wearing gas masks (commemorating the fact the trains had been introduced on the line during wartime.)

The very last old Waterloo & City Line service – no headcode yet! Note aluminum centre rail and new cabling.

The last train left Waterloo at 20.29pm and Bank at 20.36pm. Despite celebrations throughout the day the final run was somewhat muted although it is said the driver had the whistle on full blast as the train departed Bank.

Readying for the final journey to Bank – complete with ‘C’ headcode.

On the return the platform at Waterloo was pretty crowded it wasnt really possible to take any good pictures, everyone was shuffling about trying to find positions to take their final pictures of the old W & C line.

After 28 May 1993, the services on the Waterloo and City were replaced by a temporary bus service. The line reopened two months later on 19 July 1993 with the new Class 482 stock. These had been delivered to the Waterloo and City Line on the bank holiday weekend of 29-31st May 1993. At the same time the old stock was taken away.

The transfer of the trains took place via crane lift at the access point which is sited directly above the Waterloo & City’s sidings in Spur Road. Since the closure of the Armstrong lift this location is the one and only means by which trains can be removed from – or delivered to – the Waterloo and City Line.

Postscript: The W&C 25 years later….

Waterloo station at 15.47pm on the 28th May 1993 (inset) and this morning at 08.15am (28 May 2018.)

The old headcode panel at Bank this morning – first time in 25 years it had been back to this station!

I present a bit of the old Waterloo & City Line – this is the ‘A’ headcode panel that rode the very last train from Bank to Waterloo on 28th May 1993. At Waterloo, the last train was shunted up and down the platform to give everyone photo opportunities then the single motor coach, numbered 56 at the north end of the last train was demonstrated running on its own.

The headcode at practically the exact spot where it was given to me on 28th May 1993.

The driver brought out the headcode and opted to give it to one of the many people standing on the platform (this was from the rear end of the motor coach or rather the front end as it was now standing on the platform without a train! The last train had in fact featured a ‘C’ headcode.) That person happened to be me! The event as I remember was recorded on film. The headcode panel has hung on the wall in my home ever since. For the first time in 25 years this old Waterloo & City line headcode panel went back to Waterloo for a brief photo session!