London Underground Standard Stock / 1923 Tube Stock / Pre 1938 Tube Stock

As the 1920s dawned the London tube network was growing rapidly but there was also a need to replace much of the first generation tube stock which has mostly been built without air operated doors. To fulfil this need for a lot of rolling stock what became known as Standard Stock was built over an eleven year period though in a number of production batches. They have also been called 1923 Tube Stock and Pre 1938 Tube Stock (the 1938 Tube Stock being the next major type to be built).

Number built: 1466
Built: 1923-34
Builder: Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company, Cammell Laird,
Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Company, Leeds Forge,
Metropolitan-Cammell, Union Construction Company
Engine: GEC WT54 or Metropolitan-Vickers MV152 traction motors (630v DC fourth rail)

To start with six experimental cars (5 trailers and 1 control trailer) were ordered in 1922 for evaluation purposes [1], they came from a variety of manufacturers who were given a general specification for the trailers but free to follow their own design internally [2] though the stock generally had the same external appearance. These cars were later known as 1922 Tube Stock or Competition Stock.

The control trailers and motor cars were a Underground Group design with a wooden mock-up being built at Golders Green of what would soon be a very familiar sight to London's commuters [3]. The first production order came in 1923 for 191 cars. Further orders came in subsequent years for extensions to the tube network and also as original plans to retrofit earlier stock with air doors were abandoned. The Standard Stock trains to start with used a mixture of GEC and Metropolitan-Vickers electrical equipment, the equipment being stored in switch compartments behind the cabs in the motor cars.

As the 1920s continued more orders were placed but differences were made to the design. Production builds in 1926 and 1927 began to have British Thomson-Houston traction equipment which had been used on earlier tube stock and proved to be more reliable than GEC and MV's equipment [4]. The 1927 batch also had modified bogies with smaller wheels. Batches made in the 1930s had electro-pneumatic brakes and modified control equipment to allow for higher speeds. After the completion of the final production batch in 1934 a total of 1466 cars had been built comprising 645 motor cars, 270 control trailers and 551 trailers.

Standard Stock operated on the Northern, Piccadilly and Bakerloo Lines of the Underground. Later on they were also ran on the Central Line. Originally built as 5-car trains later batches were ordered as 6 or 7 cars, some were later run as 8 car trains [5]. Some shorter formations were also run such as on the Piccadilly Aldwych branch [6].

By the 1950s the Standard Stock fleet was starting to wear out, many had been stored in the open air during the war and this hadn't done them much good. They were unable to cope with the more intensive service patterns required. Replacement took place in the early 1960s with the last Standard Stock passenger trains being run on the Northern City Line in 1966. Some continued in departmental use until 1978.

The story of Standard Stock was not over though. In the late 1960s the Isle of Wight was in need of EMUs for its soon-to-be electrified Island Line. A number of Standard Stock cars became the Class 485 and 486 EMUs for British Rail [7]. They served on the Isle of Wight until 1991, nearly 70 years after the building of the first experimental cars!
Preserved 3327 at London Transport Depot

Former L131 departmental vehicle at LTM Depot Acton

Front view of 3327

Cab of 3327 
3327 interior

Note the switch compartment behind the cab

[1] Brian Hardy, Underground Train File Tube Stock 1933-1959 (Capital Transport, 2001) p. 21
[2] J. Graeme Bruce, The London Underground Tube Stock (Ian Allan, 1988) p. 53
[3] Paul Moss, London Underground (Haynes, 2014) p. 65
[4] Piers Connor, The London Underground Electric Train (Crowood, 2015) p. 48
[5] Piers Connor, "The London Electric Train: a post-script", Underground News No. 670 (October 2017) p. 683
[6] Antony Badsey-Ellis & Mike Horne, The Aldwych Branch (Capital Transport, 2009) p. 68
[7] Brian Hardy, Tube Trains on the Isle of Wight (Capital Transport, 2003) p. 13