District 100 14071999 Robert BerryUnderground Coach 100 - Photo by Robert Berry 14th July 1999

The early history of this coach is uncertain. The body was found at Dymchurch, where it was in use as a storage shed, in 1976. It was reported to have been moved there from Ashford in 1902 though it is now thought to have been moved there later, perhaps much later. The carriage compartments are of the right number and size for 1st Class and it fits the general description of a batch of District Railway coaches built by the Ashbury Railway Carriage and Iron Company Ltd in 1884, which included some four-compartment first class examples. However there is a mystery about its number, The body was numbered 100 for that number and the class were found painted on the doors in gold leaf, whilst the number was found stamped on some door fittings. However limited evidence of the District Railways' numbering practice points to separate numbering for each class of carriage and there were never as many as 100 1st class carriages.

The restored body was mounted on a cut down underframe (from PMV No. 1225 built at Ashford in 1936) and ran for the first time in August 1980. The restoration was a pioneering effort to resurrect a Victorian carriage, an example later to be followed both here at the K&ESR and elsewhere. The interior was however a restoration of the most basic kind and the carriage ran for much of its life labelled as 3rd Class. At first it was finished in an authentic vanished livery but this proved of poor durability and a brown livery was later used which was, inaccurately, thought to be the colour which District Railway coaches latterly carried in service.

The Carriage is the only surviving one from the steam era (1868-1905) of the Metropolitan District Railway. It was therefore decided that for its latest overhaul the carriage would be restored as a 1st class carriage of the 1880’s, complete with light fittings and full upholstery. A contemporary sketch of the interior was found together with specifications of the seat and lining colours, and patterns for hat rack brackets located and made. Parts were sourced and replicated with internal light fittings produced and fitted (Pitsch style gas light fittings with LED lights) with replica dummy external light fittings manufactured. Self closing door locks to appropriate 1880’s pattern with associated door fittings were also made and fitted. It was returned to service in late 2018.