Central London Railway Locomotives

The Central London Railway opened in 1900 between Shepherd's Bush and Bank (with a depot and workshop at Wood Lane). The Central London Railway was a deep level tube line like the already open City & South London Railway (though with a wider tunnel of 3.56m diameter - wider on curves [1]). Like the CSLR the Central London Railway ordered electric locomotives to haul unpowered coach stock [2]. Originally the plan had been to top and tail trains with a small locomotive at each end but due to fire safety fears the Central London Railway instead decided to have with just one larger locomotive per train with the locomotive being detached at each terminus where another locomotive was waiting on a spur to take the train back in the opposite direction.

Number built: 28
Built: 1899-1900
Builder: General Electric Company / CLR Wood Lane Depot
Motor: 4 British Thomson Houston traction motors (550v DC third rail)
Power: 1, 045 hp (776 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

The CLR ordered twenty eight central cab locomotives which were built by the General Electric Company in the US (originally it had been intended to build the locomotives in the UK but due to industrial unrest and lack of capacity this proved impossible [4]) in knocked down form and assembled at the CLR's Wood Lane Depot [5]. Importing the locomotives was not without mishap, one locomotive whilst being carried on a barge up the Thames ended up in the river - however it was rescued and after being fully dried out did enter service!) One hundred and sixty eight coaches were built by the Ashbury Railway Carriage & Iron Company and Brush Traction.

The CLR locomotives were noticeably larger than the CSLR ones weighting forty-four tons. They had four gearless motors with a high unsprung weight [6] and were soon causing vibration problems along the line with complaints coming in from occupants in buildings above the line [7]. An urgent solution to the problem was needed by the CLR, lighter motors were trialed which did reduce the vibration somewhat but the solution was arrived at when a number of coaches were modified with cab ends and electrical equipment. This became the Central London Railway 1903 Stock and soon replaced the locomotives on the line, becoming the first of a long long of tube stock on what became the Central Line. The original locomotives were replaced in service in 1903 and most were scrapped apart from a couple retained for shunting at Wood Lane Depot, one surviving until 1942.
CLR Locomotive and train at Wood Lane depot (public domain image [3]

Tunnel entrance at Shepherd's Bush, notice the central conductor rail (public domain image [3])

CLR Locomotive (public domain image [4])
[1] Piers Connor, The London Underground Electric Train (Crowood Press, 2015) p. 15
[2] "Central London Railway Car", Street Railway Journal (Vol. XVI No. 27) July 1900 p. 653
[3] Street Railway Journal (Vol. XVIII) 1901 p. 1051
[4] "Central London Underground Railway", Street Railway Journal (Vol. XIV No. 3) March 1898 p. 143
[5] J. Graeme Bruce & Desmond F. Croome, The Twopenny Tube (Capital Transport, 1996) p. 10
[6] "Fireproof cars on the Central London", Street Railway Journal (Vol. XXII No. 19) Nov 1903 p. 851
[7] Connor p. 36