Tube History

R47/R49/R59 Stock

R47-49-59 Stock Operates:
1938 - 1983 District line

The R47/49/59 stock operated on the District line between 1949 and 1983.

The R stock was constructed for use on the District line, consisting of just Trailers and Driving Motors, it was constructed in four distinct batches in 1938, 1949, 1952 and 1959.


The R stock was delivered in three batches, each Driving Motor being built from existing Q38 stock trailers with the addition of new Non-Driving-Motors, however the second batch included some new Driving Motors.

First batch in 1947 comprised of 225 carriages

82 Driving Motors converted between 1948 and 1951 from Q38 trailers by Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon dubbed the R38/1 stock

89 Non Driving Motors built between 1949 and 1950 by Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon dubbed R47 stock

54 Non Driving Motors built between 1949 and 1950 by Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon dubbed R47 stock

Second batch in 1949 comprising of 133 carriages

43 Driving Motors converted between 1951 and 1953 from Q38 trailers by Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon dubbed R38/2 stock

6 Driving Motors built between 1952 and 1953 by Metro Cammell dubbed R49 stock

84 Non Driving Motors built between 1952 and 1953 by Metro Cammell dubbed R49 stock

Third batch in 1959 comprising of 20 carriages

7 Driving Motors converted between 1958 and 1959 from Q38 stock trailers at Acton Works dubbed R38/3 stock

13 Non Driving Motors built in 1959 by Metro Cammell dubbed R59 stock

The Q38 stock carriages had previously been constructed by Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon between 1938 and 1940 with converting them into the R stock at a later date, these became dubbed R38 stock after their initial construction. The carriages for the stock where constructed newly, the R38 and R47 stocks where constructed from steel whereas the later R49 and R59 stocks where mostly constructed from aluminium alloy. The 49 stock was the first to enter service as an unpainted aluminium finish with the first train entering service on 10 March 1952.


The cars where formed into semi-permanent units, when they first operated as either a four-carriage unit comprising of DM - NDM - NDM - NDM or a two-carriage unit comprising of NDM - DM, when these where all in service there where 51 four-carriage and 87 two-carriage units.

The formation of the trains varied depending on the peak and off-peak services. A peak service would see trains comprising of a maximum of eight-carriages whereas off-peak the trains comprised of six carriages. In total 36 eight-carriage and 15 six-carriages could be formed during peak hours.


The R stock trains where visually similar to the O, P and Q38 stocks, however there where notable differences between them such as an external door open indicator, destination boards on rollers, flurescent lighting and differant ways of displaying advertisments internally and District line maps.

A noticeable design difference between the R38 stock and the other builds, is the use of four small windows in the central saloon between the central doors whereas this was replaced with two large windows in the later builds. The entire fleet had 40 seats per carriage, with the R38 stock including an additional two transverse seats in the central bay with the later builds having just one, there was also longitudinal seating.


The trains where initially painted red to match the O, P and Q38 stock trains, however an eight-carriage train was left unpainted from the R49 batch as an experiment. Consequently the R59 stock was constructed to be left unpainted, with the previous builds being painted silver-grey to match, during the day, when trains where formed six and eight carriage trains it was normal to observe trains that where both silver and red, furthermore the decision was made to repaint the entire R stock fleet to match the unpainted aluminium carriages, with this process being completed in 1968.

Early trials of automatically driven trains featured the R stock between 1962 and 1963 prior to the larger scale trials between Woodford and Hainault on the Central line where trains where tested before their full-scale use on the Victoria line. These early trials took place on the District line between Stamford Brook and Ravenscroft Park where an R stock train would be driven in automatic mode.

The practice of uncoupling was abandoned on the District line in 1971, with all District line trains standardised to seven-carriages. Thirty-six of the four-carriage units where reduced to three-carriage units and where coupled to two-carriage units to form a seven-carriage train; fifteen of the four-carriage units where lengthened to five-carriage units by adding one of the displaced carriages, these where also coupled to two-carriage units. There where twenty-one carriages that where spate, of R47 stock that where all scrapped.

Withdrawal and preservation

The scrappage of coupling on the District line in 1971 displaced twenty-one carriages which where withdrawn between October 1971 and February 1972 and subsequently scrapped. Fire damage between 1971 and 1972 led to several other carriages being withdrawn and scrapped. The withdrawal of the R stock began in March 1981 and was completed in March 1983.

The Athens-Piraeus Electric Railway was considering purchasing sixty R stock carriages to be formed into five-carriage trains. The dimentions of the systems are similar to those on the District line, however there where modification that where needed for the shoegear because the railway was electrified at 550 V DC though a third-rail. The deal was never completed and fell though.

The R stock was replaced by the D78 stock on the District line mainline and the C69/77 stock on the District line route between Edgware Road and Wimbledon because the platforms are shorter along this section of the route.

There have been three carriages that have been preserved, these are all driving motors:

Carriage Number
Preserved location
Mangapps Railway Museum
Walthamstow Pump House Museum
London Transport Museum Acton depot


First Aluminium

District line service Ealing

Interior drivers motor

Interior non-drivers motor

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A few selected videos about the R47/49/59 stock from YouTube.