Q-stock was built in the 1920s and 1930s to two very different designs.The earlier cars show the American influence on early Underground operation, with their characteristic stepped “clerestory” roofs. Later Q-stock cars have an “Art deco” look with flared sides. Q-stock operated principally on the District Line, which has recently celebrated the 150th anniversary of the opening of the first section of this Line.
One of the earlier Q-stock cars is on display at the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden.
There are four other Q-stock cars in the Museum collection. They are:

  • 4416/17, built in 1938, and withdrawn from passenger service in 1972.
  • 08063, built in 1936, withdrawn from passenger service in 1971, and presented to the Museum in 1997.
  • 4184 dating from 1923 and withdrawn in 1971. 

The initial aim of the current Q-stock project is to restore three of the cars to operational condition.

Phase 1 will incorporate restoration of the two Q38 driving motor cars 4416 and 4417, along with Q35 trailer 08063, which is already close to operational condition.  Phase 2, restoration of Q23 4184, could then be undertaken once the three car train is operational, facilitated by a further fundraising campaign.

Here is an update on the progress of the project as at January 2020:

Work has been undertaken to confirm that the cars are still within gauge for the relevant sections of the modern Underground railway and can work with current line voltages. Another major issue is now beng addressed: whether the operation of these heritage cars is compatible with proposed new Underground signalling systems.

Whilst these studies have been under way, a considerable amount of preparatory work has been carried out by teams of dedicated volunteers. Some of this has been preliminary restoration work, particularly on the interior fittings, flooring and door mechanisms of one of the Q38 motor cars (4417). Research has also been conducted in contemporary technical publications; and parts stored at Acton Depot and elsewhere have been located, together with a list of other missing parts which will need to be replaced. Plans are being finalised for the period to which individual cars will be restored. These dates will vary from car to car, to allow different stories to be presented on the role Q-stock played in major events, such as the World War 2 evacuation and 1948 London Olympics.

A project manager has been appointed, funded from the donations already accumulated by the Friends. The project manager has produced a costed project plan, initially for the restoration of the three cars. 

Forthcoming actions are:

  • Restoration of two brake vans, to act as match wagons to facilitate the movement of the Q-stock cars when coupled to battery locomotives (and also to provide space for interpretative displays) 
  • Preparation of tender documents for restoration work to traction and other equipment below the car floors by an outside contractor
  • Removal of asbestos in one car (4416) on which work started in January 2020 and was completed in mid February 2020. This will allow the volunteer restoration teams to undertake the same interior work in car 4416, as they have already successfully done in car 4417.


As the project gains momentum, further donations are invited to ensure that the restoration plans can be delivered