Top marks for veteran electric loco’s nameplate as debate continues

By Geoff Courtney

While the debate continues in Heritage Railway about the fate of the original Metropolitan Railway electric locomotive brass nameplates that were replaced by alloy plates in 1953, one of the replacements fitted to the class leader has for several generations fascinated – and doubtless intrigued – pupils at a top independent school, where it is on permanent display near the head’s study.

The plate, John Lyon, was carried by No. 1, the first of 20 Bo-Bo electrics ordered by the Met from Metropolitan-Vickers and delivered to the railway in 1922-23 for operating the City and Baker Street to Aylesbury services as far as Rickmansworth, where electrification ended and steam took over.

Working electric: Metropolitan Railway No. 1 John Lyon at London Transport’s Neasden depot in 1963, two years after the Bo-Bo was switched to departmental use following its withdrawal from passenger service. In November 1972, one of the locomotive’s nameplates was presented to The John Lyon School at Harrow-on-the-Hill, where it is on display.

In 1933 the Metropolitan Railway became part of the new London Passenger Transport Board which introduced the London Transport brand, and the Bo-Bo electrics operated in this livery until the electrification of the line beyond Rickmansworth to Amersham in 1961.

This led to the withdrawal from service of the remaining 16 members of the class, but No. 1, one of four retained by London Transport for departmental use, was used for shunting at Neasden depot until 1972, when it was finally withdrawn due to frame fractures, and cut up two years later.

John Lyon, the man whose name No. 1 carried, was a wealthy farmer in Harrow, north-west London, and the founder in 1572 of what was to become Harrow School, now one of the country’s most famous public schools.

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