Celebrating Walthamstow’s old Vic

Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum is marking a special anniversary this weekend, writes Lindsay Collier

Victoria Line carriages

Original Victoria Line carriages have undergone restoration at Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum and are now open for the public to see

Waltham Forest can not only boast of being the home of renowned innovators in art and film-making – but also in transport and engineering.

While William Morris and Alfred Hitchcock remain the borough’s two most famous sons, the area’s contribution to innovation in transport must not be forgotten.

In 1882 Britain’s first form of battery-powered vehicle, a tram, was built in Leytonstone; in 1894 the first British internal combustion engine car was constructed by Frederick Bremer in Walthamstow; in 1909 the first all-British aviation flight was flown by Alliott Verdon (AV) Roe over Walthamstow Marshes; and in 1910 the first standardised bus in the world, the double-decker B Type, was built in Walthamstow.

But there is one additional achievement that is missing from this list, and it is one being celebrated at Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum this month. Saturday 1st September marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the world’s first fully-automated underground railway. The Victoria Line opened in September 1968, without a ceremony of any kind, between Walthamstow Central and Highbury and Islington. The full route to Brixton was not opened until 1972.

The museum in South Access Road has three original 1967 Victoria Line carriages, a complete car numbered 3186 and two sections numbered 3049 and 3016.

Car 3186, given to us by Transport for London, has been completely refurbished and is often used for filming. It also boasts a pop-up restaurant as well as a display exhibit.

Car 3049 is a cab section and was purchased by the museum from London Underground. This will eventually become part of a small Victoria Line carriage when joined up with car 3016; this section will also be used as a museum celebrating the history of the line.

Car 3016 is the star attraction as it has not been refurbished, with the interior being the same as it was when it first came into service in 1968. It is the only original 1967 Victoria Line car that exists and is worth a look inside for a trip down memory lane.

Over the weekend of 1st and 2nd September there will be various vintage vehicles on display at the museum, as well as models and an exhibition on the history of the Victoria Line. Our unique 1896 Marshall steam engines will also be running.

If you miss the event you can still come down to the museum on one of our regular Sunday open days, between 11am and 4pm, and check out our fantastic collection of vintage transport.

Victoria Line turns 50

This month marks half-a-century since Walthamstow was finally put on the Tube Map.

The Victoria Line’s Walthamstow Central and Blackhorse Road stations were officially opened on 1st September 1968, although trains initially only went as far as Highbury and Islington.

Victoria line construction

The Victoria Line under construction in the 1960s (credit Transport for London)

The line’s northern terminus was going to called ‘Walthamstow Hoe Street’ to distinguish it from the existing overground railway station, then called Hoe Street, until the decision was made to join together both stations and name them ‘Walthamstow Central’.

Construction took eight years and at the time of its opening the Victoria Line was the first new underground railway in London for more than 60 years. The route was extended south to Brixton in 1971, but the line as we know it now was completed a year later with the opening of Pimlico Station.

Today, the Victoria Line operates 36 trains per hour at the busiest times, with 100 seconds between trains, making it the most frequent train service in the UK and second-most frequent in the world. Two years ago it also began running overnight services on weekends, as part of the Night Tube.

The Victoria Line’s head of operations Frank Ibe said: “The Victoria Line has been a key part of London’s transport network for 50 years and it’s amazing to think how many billions of journeys have been made in its history.

“When it opened, the Victoria Line was one of the most modern subways in the world and thanks to the recent improvements it still sets the standard for the rest of the world today.”


For more information on Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum:

Visit e17pumphouse.org.uk

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