As you may have noticed in the News, Rumour and Gossip Page I have made reference to the move into preservation of this unique locomotive; its future having been secured by Cravens Heritage Trains.
The following details have been largely adapted and edited from Craven Heritage Train's own bulletin and the photos supplied by Bob Yeldham and Tube Troll; I'm more than happy to give credit to all sources.
Cravens Heritage Trains first discussed the possibility of saving the loco at its 2002 Annual General Meeting and a brief history of the loco was given. Craven Heritage Trains Ltd's (CHTL) directors thought that this unique vehicle should be preserved and that discussions should take place with the appropriate parties to persue this aim with a view to it being placed on display outside Epping signal cabin, which is also leased by CHTL. The decision of the meeting was that the attempts to proceed with the project should be made.
L11 - A Brief History
L11 was built as Acton Works in 1964 by joining the driving ends of two Standard stock driving motor cars, numbers 3080 and 3109, which had originally been built by Metropolitan-Cammell in 1931 as part of the Piccadilly Line Extension stock. Most of the equipment normally located beneath floor level - the main and auxiliary reservoirs, brake triple valves and piping - was relocated in the remaining section of the passenger compartment to ease servicing. The four original traction motors were retained and each pair was wired in series, thus working at half voltage. This gave L11 improved low speed operating characteristics, thus making it especially suitable for its shunting role.
The 'Acton' end was fitted with two Ward couplers, one each at surface and tube stock height. A Ward to Wedgelock coupling adapter could be fitted to make L11 compatible with more modern stocks. At the 'Ealing' end one Ward coupler was fitted at tube stock height. L11 was also fitted with sanding gear to enable it to haul stock up the steep gradient to Acton Town Station.
On entry into service the locomotive was painted in the then standard service stock maroon livery, but was repainted in the yellow scheme it retains today in 1983 for the London Transport Golden Jubilee Acton Works Open Day.
L11 was transferred from Acton to Ruislip in on 22 June 1989, so it is assumed to have been withdrawn from service around this time. It was returned to Acton on 7 November 1991 and was transferred (on paper) to the LU Heritage Fleet at Acton on 20 August 1993.
The locomotive had been stored in the open , but the land on which it was standing is now required for other uses. The LT Museum's Depot at Acton was not in a position to save it and, had it not been for the intervention of CHTL L11 would most probably have been scrapped.
Plans for Preservation
So, the decision having been taken, the practical aspects of the project now got underway.
The locomotive had been inspected by members of CHTL and considering the amount of time it had been in the open its external condition was reasonably good and it was felt that a cosmetic restoration could proceed without too much work being necessary, but of course there is always the possibility that it could be restored to working order in the future.
L11 as seen in Acton Works. (Photo courtesy of Cravens Heritage Trains)
L11 as seen in Acton Works. (Photo courtesy of Cravens Heritage Trains)
Next came a meeting between CHTL and Infraco BCV (IBCV), who own the land, at the site where it was hoped to locate L11, to explain the plans CHTL had for the land and its plans for the future. Although the land falls outside the land currently the subject of a lease to CHTL it was confirmed that IBCV has no future plans for it, and permission was granted for its future use as detailed by CHTL.
Various works had already occurred to both clear the site and improve its security and further plans were discussed take take this further forward.
It was now possible to confirm to LT Museum that CHTL was in a position to offer a permanent home for L11.
There was a hiccough reported in CHTL's bulletin in December 2003 when it briefly seemed that there may be plans afoot for the loco to remain and be restored at Acton, but in the event this did not materialise. In the same issue the arrival of a pile of sleepers at Epping was also reported on which the rails which would support L11 were to be mounted.
Next came an appeal by CHTL to raise the necessary funds to cover the costs of transporting the locomotive to Epping, additional security and the initial costs of conservation and preservation.
In March 2004 CHTL reported that there was finally formal agreement from London Underground for the loan of L11 into its care and arrangements were started to be put into place for the move by road from Acton to Epping.
Potentially, there were some problems with the physical moving of the loco as the brakes and wheels were locked solid, as it had remained undisturbed for a considerable period, but contact with the Emergency Response Unit of LU ensured that this could be overcome.
Next was the question of the track at Epping. This was constructed by the Central Line East Permanent Way team based at Hainault as a training exercise and the 'panel' was assembled in about five hours. CHTL's ever enterprising Chairman, Bob Yeldham, managed to secure a supply of ballast from GrantRail which was delivered to the site and later laid by the 'PWay' team.
So, now the site was prepared, the formal agreement to the loan of the locomotive received and plans for the move well laid.
Finally, all the planning is completed and the date for the move agreed.
As I report here the move took place on the evening of the 14th April 2004, being completed in the early hours of the following morning when L11 was finally in its new home.
Tube Troll was able to be in attendance to witness the move from Acton and caught the following image as it started its move.
The moment of the move! In this photo by Tube Troll L11 is seen on the back of the low loader departing from Acton Works and starting its journey to Epping.
In this photo by Tube Troll L11 is seen in location at Epping. The Signal Cabin, also in the care of CHTL is visible on the right of the picture.
The following photos by Bob Yeldham show some more angles and views of L11.
The 'Acton' End of the locomotive. The two Ward couplers are visible, as is the viewing window set into the 'M' Door
Although having received the 'attention' of the inevitable graffiti 'artists' whilst at Acton, the loco is, generally, in a good state of repair
The 'Ealing' end of L11. Note the single coupler and the lack of viewing window in the 'M' Door
Although obviously showing an accumulation of dirt and grime, the cab appears complete. Note the viewing window in the 'M' Door.
Looking through the locomotive from West to East. Again, the condition appears remarkably good, with the accumulation of years of dust. The metal surfaces are, of course, a little rusty, though from this photo this appears fairly cosmetic.
As mentioned above, funds have been raised to commence the preservation and restoration of L11. I believe that the plan is to restore the locomotive to its original maroon colour scheme and of course the initial cleaning and tidying of the interior is also to be put in hand.
The suggestion is that an inventory of the locomotive's mechanical equipment may also be made, to see the 'completeness' of the loco and which would also enable consideration to be given as to whether there would be a prospect of returning it to operating order in the future.
As work commences and progress is made I'll endeavour to keep this page up to date.
Update added 13 July 2004
Bob Yeldham has let me have some photos of the progress that has been made so far in the renovation of the loco. The photos are very much self explanatory.