To mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of District line, steam trains will once more ply the route. The line, which initially consisted of five stations, opened on 24 December 1868. In 1869, the service was extended westward to West Brompton, and in 1870, eastward to Blackfriars.
Within forty years of opening, it was running services to Ealing, Hounslow, Putney, East Ham, and New Cross. For a short time, there were even District line trains to Windsor and Southend-on-Sea.
The first phase of the District line was built using a cut-and-cover method. Workers would dig a trench, build a tunnel, and then cover it over again. Two thousand workers were employed to dig the tunnel and 200 horses were used to move the soil. The original District Railway trains could fit more than 400 people per train, but today, a District line train can carry more than 1,000 people during rush hour.
A series of events will run through the year
Heritage displays and leaflets telling the story of the line’s history will be handed out at stations from this weekend, while Cultural Tube maps, highlighting a range of fun places to visit along the line, will be placed at stations along the route. The handouts include information about the overall history of the line, as well as details about the history and architecture of each station.
Today (Saturday 26th Jan), between 11am and 1pm, there will also be staff handing out special tote bags to visitors at the following stations:
11:00 -Westminster station
11:30 – St. James’ Park station
12:00 – Victoria station
12:30 – Sloane Square station
13:00 – South Kensington station
In conjunction with the London Transport Museum, TfL will run a steam train along the District line later this year. The modernisation of signalling on the Hammersmith & City, District, Circle and Metropolitan lines means that this will be the last time a steam train will be able to travel through the central section of the Underground.
Details of the steam train tours will be announced later this year.
London Transport Museum is also fundraising to restore a rare part of the District line’s heritage – the last three surviving 1930s Q-stock Underground carriages, which were in service from 1938 to the late 1960s. £200,000 is needed to complete the restoration work to make the trains operational.