Have you ever noted the home storage potential of a London Underground luggage rack, or lusted over the interior design qualities of a right-facing Jubilee Line lift button?
Is so you are not alone – collectors have gone wild for parts salvaged from decommissioned Tube trains, with goods ranging from seat fabric, station tiles and phone handsets raising more than £550,000 for heritage efforts.
Sales of Metropolitan Line luggage racks alone have generated more than half a million pounds for the London Transport Museum, while lift buttons have also proved popular – with thousands snapped up.
Sales of Metropolitan Line luggage racks alone have generated more than half a million pounds for the London Transport Museum (pictured is an example of how the racks can be used at home)
One of the original small Metropolitan Line luggage racks, which sold for £100 but have now been discontinued
Many of the items have become trendy interior features, with photos showing luggage racks being used for wall storage units and coat hangers.
The museum is run under the direction of Transport for London, so can take any decommissioned items into its heritage collection, or otherwise sell them to the public.
The most expensive item of ‘railwayana’ on offer are large lights costing £450 that were used at the Neasden Depot in north London before it was fitted with LED bulbs.
Among the most popular items are 1960s luggage racks salvaged from Metropolitan Line trains. More than 3,500 of these have been sold at £100 each, according to data from a freedom of information request by MailOnline.
Goods that have flown off the shelves
Overground train driver’s seat (£375): 8 – £3000
Jubilee Line buttons, right-facing arrow (£25): 1,053 – £26,325
Metropolitan Line carriage luggage rack – small size (£100): 3,554 – £355,400
Large size (£150): 1,020 – £153,000
XL station lights (£450): 2 – £900
Tunnel telephone handset (£75): 43 – £3225
Sloane Square station tile (20): 93 – £1860
Seating fabric (different prices depending on style): £8,949
GRAND TOTAL – £552,686.
The Museum have now brought out a replica version which is slightly larger and costs £150.
Jubilee Line lift buttons have also been a surprising hit, with 1,053 sold for a total cost of £26,325, while 43 telephone handsets have been snapped up at a cost of £75 each.
In the days before wireless phones these were used by drivers to contact one another and the control room while underground.
Samuel Pye, creative manager at architect Echin London, says there are plenty of interior design uses for the salvaged items, and used the luggage racks as an example.
He told MailOnline: ‘They say necessity is the mother of invention which is why designers often draw so much inspiration from the utilitarian designs of places like the London Underground.
‘The reclaimed luggage racks provide a great talking point and most importantly great storage for the home, from hallways to bathrooms, utility rooms, kitchens and offices.
‘A large percentage of London’s homes were built in the Victorian era with great ceiling heights but they lack the storage needed for our now cluttered lives.
‘Mounting these luggage racks up high is a great way to make the most of these proportions.’
Sales of Overground train seats have been slightly slower, with eight going for £375 each – while 93 tiles from Sloane Square station have sold for £20 each.
Meanwhile, replica seat fabric has also been a surprising hit, generating nearly £9000 worth of sales at £30 per square metre.
The most expensive item of ‘railwayana’ on offer are large lights costing £450 that were used at the Neasden Depot in north London before it was fitted with LED bulbs (left). An Overground train driver’s seat is available for £375
The museum has sold 93 tiles from Sloane Square station for £20 each – with all money helping to fund its work
This beware moving goods sign is on offer to transport enthusiasts for a pricey £100
Sam Mullins OBE, Director for London Transport Museum, said: ‘Every purchase supports London Transport Museum’s work as a charity and helps to conserve our iconic collection, from historic vehicles to a world-class collection of 20th century poster art – this is especially important to us in these challenging times.’
Fans of salvaged goods were also in luck recently when British Airways launched a fire sale of its assets amid the financial turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline sold off champagne flutes and fine china previously used to serve first class passengers, as well as slippers and trolleys.
The sale came after the airline’s owner revealed huge pandemic-fuelled losses of £5.4 billion in the year to September.
Customers and collectors could recreate an authentic BA first class experience by snapping up bespoke inflight dining items such as William Edwards plates (from £25), soup bowls (£30), cups (from £5) and saucers (£5).
Other first class items on sale included the bread basket (£42), the day blanket (£9) and the coaster (£5). And for £12 you can buy the top-cabin hot towels (which obviously arrive cold).
An original cash drawer recovered from an Underground station office – on sale for £300