Work is underway at our Museum Depot in Acton to restore three Q stock cars into operational condition. In November we launched a fundraising appeal to raise the £200,000 necessary to complete this ambitious restoration project.
Q stock trains first entered service on the District line eighty years ago in 1938. Unlike modern trains with identical carriages, Q stock trains were formed from a range of cars with very different profiles – passengers never knew what formation would pull into their platform!
Built in 1938, the newer Q stock cars were strikingly modern with sleek flared sides and smooth, curved roofs. These were purpose-built to be compatible with a range of older converted cars, with American design features. Dating as far back as 1923, these older cars were originally designated as either N, M, L, K or G stock. Running together, the different Q stock cars revealed the evolution of train design through the 1920s and 1930s.
One of the older Q stock car dating from 1923 is on display at the Museum, preserved exactly as it was when it came out of service in September 1971.
To tell the many stories of the Q stock trains, which were in passenger service for several decades, we decided to restore each car to a different moment in time, exploring different themes.
One car will illustrate wartime Britain, and the evacuation of school children from London in September 1939 at the start of the Second World War. The second will reflect life during the post-war years of austerity as London was being rebuilt in the 1940s. In stark contrast, the final car will show the growing prosperity of the 1950s, when people travelled for pleasure, taking trips to Theatreland in the West End and out to Kew Gardens and Richmond Park.
We are still a long way from choosing advertising posters for the cars and upholstering seats to reflect the three different decades, but work enabling these choices has already begun. In spring 2018 a group of Young Volunteers collected memories from people who remember travelling on Q stock trains along the District line, and a new group of Research Volunteers is going to join us soon, to take this research further.
A dedicated team of volunteers from all walks of life – from retired London Underground engineers, to carpenters, and engineering and history students – is carrying out work at Acton Depot, such as cleaning, repairing and overhauling the electrics, and wiring on one of the 1938 driving motor cars.
What unites these seemingly different people is their passion for London’s transport heritage, their drive to see the train operate again, and their willingness to learn something new.
If you would like to join the Q stock restoration team, please email: email@example.com.
Blog by Katariina Mauranen, Project Manager – Vehicle Restoration. Kat works in London Transport Museum’s curatorial department. She joined the Museum in 2014 as curator for the Battle Bus project and has previously worked on the restoration of historic boats.
Julia Allum, winner of the Silver Award in 2017 Prize for Illustration, and the artist behind this year’s promotional image, shares how her winning artwork was created, what it was like to take part in the competition and how her career benefited from it.
The AOI’s Poster Prize for Illustration was a competition I had been meaning to enter for quite a few years, but for some reason or another never got round to until 2016. When the call for entries was announced, a commission I was expecting had just fallen through and so I decided to put the extra time to good use.
The theme of the competition was ‘Sounds of the City’, and I wanted to tackle the brief from a different angle and produce something that wasn’t too obvious. After brainstorming several ideas, and being inspired by a visit to Kew Gardens, I decided to focus on wildlife living and thriving in the city. Parakeets seemed the ideal choice: not only do they have a distinctive, incredibly noisy sound, they also bring a little piece of the tropics to urban London.
The final poster design was a long way from where it began. The image initially developed through scribbles. I then spent a lot of time moving shapes around, and the design evolved from birds featuring within a cityscape to them being the main focus. I am fascinated by pattern, symmetry and repetition and enjoy exploring shapes and how they fit together to create images. What began as trees, slowly morphed into Transport for London’s roundel, and the final design began to take shape. Influenced by my love of Art Deco posters, my work has changed substantially over the years, it has gradually become more simplified and stylised.
When working on this design I was still in the early stages of this new style and a little unsure about it. In fact I was so unsure about my entry – thinking it was too simple to count as ‘proper’ illustration – that I didn’t tell anyone I had submitted it. It therefore came as a great surprise when I heard that my piece had been shortlisted; never in a million years did I think I would go on to win one of the awards!
In the eighteen months since, I have concentrated on producing work as much as I can; work I enjoy doing, and forging a style that is uniquely mine. In turn this has led to more enquiries and collaborations, including commissions for interior vinyl graphics, travel posters, editorial illustrations, a shopping bag for a national US chain and of course the marketing image for this year’s Poster Prize for Illustration. Furthermore, towards the end of last year I was in discussion with some dream clients, so I am looking forward to what 2019 may bring.
The Poster Prize for Illustration is such a wonderful platform for illustrators to showcase their work and further their career, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in organising it.
Besides receiving enquiries and commissions, the most important thing I took from the award was confidence and self-belief. This opportunity gave me the push I needed to take my career to the next level. Having my work acknowledged and praised by industry professionals, plus seeing my poster on the London underground gave me such a boost.
Our new exhibition Poster Prize for Illustration: London Stories, organised in partnership with the AOI, opens at London Transport Museum on 8 February 2019. On the same date, we invite you to join us at our Friday Late launch event, where the winners will be announced.
by Sam Mullins OBE, London Transport Museum’s Director
With Santa’s hideaway and all our Christmas decorations packed away for another year – not to mention all those festive jumpers – our thoughts at London Transport Museum turn to a packed programme in the year ahead.
With our Poster Girls exhibition now closed, the Exterion Gallery will stage The Poster Prize for Illustration: London Stories, brought to you in partnership with The Association of Illustrators. Opening on 8 February 2019, London Stories will bring together 100 remarkable and personal illustrations, each capturing a different story inspired by life in, and love of, London. Uncover some of London’s more unusual historic tales, learn about voyages of travel and romance, and unearth the secret signs that can be discovered across this great city. On the opening day of the exhibition, we will also be hosting one of our popular Friday Lates where we keep the doors open until 10pm. With music, bars, hot food, talks, quizzes, and craft activities, a Friday Late is a great way to discover the Museum as well as get an early preview of our newest exhibition.
Following on from London Stories, our next major exhibition, Hidden London, opens in October 2019. We will open up the hidden world of disused stations in a series of immersive experiences based on film, sounds, photos and objects. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fabulous illustrated book containing new photography and fresh research into the ghost stations and tunnels of Hidden London. This exhibition will complement our already popular Hidden London tour programme which we will continue to enhance and expand.
We will open our Depot at Acton three times this year in April, July and September, allowing you to go behind the scenes at the Museum’s ‘Aladdin’s Cave’. The London Transport Miniature Railway will once more be in action, take a ride on a historic bus, children can enjoy various craft and play activities as well as short talks and tours. Each weekend is themed, with our first weekend in April called ‘Love Your Line’ celebrating the District, Victoria, Jubilee and Overground lines. Staying with Acton, the restoration of three 1920/30s ‘Q’ stock cars is well under way, while the 1914 charabanc is being prepared for an active year.
As always, I would like to extend my thanks to all the staff and volunteers whose never ending passion and drive help us to deliver such an extraordinary programme of events and experiences at the Museum in Covent Garden and beyond. We look forward to you joining us for some, or all, of these fantastic events in 2019.
I have been very fortunate to work as Project Curator on ‘Celebrating Britain’s Transport Textile’ from 2017-2018. This project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has given us the opportunity to look into the use of moquette on the transport system since the 1920s.
Assisted by two Young Freelancers, Elizabeth Clark and Marie Stewart, we have uncovered many fascinating stories behind the design, manufacturing and use of moquette through the ages.
Moquette – which means carpet in French – is a tough woollen fabric that is used in upholstery on public transport all over the world. The fabric is produced using a weaving technique known as jacquard, and is typically made of 85% wool, 15% nylon mix, with a cotton backing. Before the use of moquette on public transport vehicles, seats were either unpadded timber seats and benches or upholstered in rattan, leather, leathercloth, cotton or silk velvets.
Research and collection
London Transport Museum’s collection holds over 400 samples of moquette from the 1920s to the present day. We conducted in depth research at many different institutions and collections that hold moquette across London and the UK. By meeting some of the specialist project partners we have gained an insight into why this fabric is so iconic to the life and soul of London and its transport system for over 100 years.
We worked in partnership with St Mungo’s, a charitable organisation which supports those who are homeless or have experienced homelessness. A ten-week course at ‘St Mungo’s Recovery College’ was run by a freelance educator and artist practitioner celebrating the design and history of moquette.
Visitors gained an insight into moquette through a wide range of public events at London Transport Museum and Acton Depot including; Urban Fabric (Friday Late), London Uncovered (Depot Open Weekend), Design Connections: Robert Elms in conversation with Wallace Sewell and Celebrating Britain’s Transport Textile (Symposium). The events brought together the project partners along with a varied audience of practitioners, lecturers, historians, museum professionals, volunteers, students as well as the public.
London Transport Museum is always at its quietest before a School’s Early Explorer Morning. There are no visitors yet and all the sounds in the galleries are turned off. Even late in the evening, long after the Museum closes, you can still hear the occasional audio narration echoing from a distant part of the galleries. But just before an Early Explorer Morning, all those sounds are silenced, and with good reason.
Our School’s Early Explorer Mornings have been running since 2014 and, three times a year, they provide us with an opportunity to welcome students with a broad range of Special Educational Needs (SEN), including Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), physical, emotional and behavioural needs.
For many SEN students high levels of noise, big groups of people and unfamiliar places can be stressful, uncomfortable and unmanageable. This can make many everyday situations difficult to deal with, and a visit to a museum as busy and noisy as the London Transport Museum is practically impossible. By turning off the sounds across the Museum, restricting the number of groups who come and keeping the Museum closed for an extra hour to allow exclusive access for our SEN students, we can combat some potential barriers to visiting.
Our latest School’s Early Explorer Morning took place on Friday 16 November. For some of the children visiting as part of school groups, it was an opportunity that remains a rare one; one visiting teacher told us the highlight of the trip was that for her learners, we were “giving them opportunities that otherwise [they] wouldn’t have – including driving/sitting on trains and buses”.
As well as offering a quiet introduction to the Museum, we also provided a number of additional flexible and sensory experiences, designed to cater for a range of learning needs and abilities. Explorers were able to explore our All Aboard play zone, meet historic characters, get close to our collection with our object handling team, climb aboard our vehicles and make use of our self-guided sensory explorer bags.
These multi-sensory bags are filled with objects and resources that enable learners to make deeper connections to our collection. They focus on four key vehicles in the Museum galleries and contain a range of objects for learners to interact with, including sounds, smells, images, props and interactive objects. These were developed in consultation with SEN teachers, pupils and sensory story specialist Jo Grace, as part of our commitment to supporting teachers’ needs across our School’s programmes. They are, according to a visiting speech and language specialist, “like having a little bit of school in a bag”, and “the best such bags she had ever seen.”
On a School’s Early Explorer Morning, the Museum stays at its quietest for a while after opening. As the school groups drift in one by one though, the noise rises – although not to the same pitch as when the Museum is at its busiest – with the excitement of children having the entire Museum to themselves when they may not have the opportunity to visit such places at all.
On the 16 November, many of the school groups decided to stay in the Museum after the noises were switched back on, and the Museum opened up to the public and visitors started filtering in. Having become comfortable in the Museum environment, many of the students found that they were more relaxed and more able to be themselves in an occasionally chaotic environment.
As the visiting teacher said: “thank you for the amazing day on Friday. Our pupils loved it so much and had a day they will always remember.”
The Museum aims to ensure all visitors to have an enjoyable and meaningful learning experience. We are committed to making London Transport Museum as accessible as possible for all children, including those with physical and learning difficulties. And happily, on those quiet mornings when we open only for our Early Explorers, we can.
Our next School’s Early Explorer morning is on Friday 29 March 2019.
The Museum’s Family Programme also delivers Early Explorer Mornings for family visitors. The next one coming up is on Saturday 15 December 2018 from 8.30 until 10.00. In 2019 an Early Explorer Morning or Explorer Evening for families will run every school holiday – dates coming soon.
If you would like more information about the School’s and Family’s Early Explorer mornings and other events, please do get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
London Transport Museum’s Young Freelancers are young people, aged 16 – 25, passionate about creative learning and museums. They work on a project by project basis supporting workshops and activities for different Museum audiences. They receive support and training whilst learning on the job, and also have the opportunity to complete an Arts Award qualification.
The aim of the Young People’s Skills Programme was to help a group of young volunteers to create an activity for the Skills Late 2018 event at the Museum. A Skills Late is a cross between a jobs fair and a museum late event. This year, we had a live DJ, an Apprentice Lounge, and stands from leading employers in the transport and technology industries such as Bombardier, Hitachi Rail Europe, Microsoft, Mott MacDonald, Siemens, telent, and Transport for London.
Our six talented, young volunteers had varied creative interests from animation and drawing, to story-telling and making maps. What united them was the desire to boost their own skills whilst helping other career seekers.
Lead Freelancer Becky Hatchett and I organised a Design Sprint Week for the volunteers, where they explored the Museum’s collection, attended sessions on presentation skills, and built their Arts Award portfolio.
During this week, they met with members of our Learning Team, Skanska graduates, Hazel Grant (Recruitment Manager at TfL), and Seema Kaler (Transport Planner) who all provided valuable insight on different skills building.
The main focus of Design Sprint Week was for the volunteer to identify solutions to common questions young career seekers have, such as: what questions to ask employers; what different types of jobs exist in transport and infrastructure; how to find out about jobs that suit their interests and skills.
The volunteers divided themselves into groups and presented their solutions to our Learning Team in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style – although much more jovial and relaxed!
The Learning Team were blown away by what the volunteers had come up with for the Skills Late event: a fun dress-up station where visitors could wear transport sector uniforms, and volunteers could dress up too while helping visitors navigate the employers’ stands throughout the Museum.
A 3D digital map with information portals on different careers, and a WhatsApp interface so that career seekers could ask people more about the jobs they are looking for. This solution inspired a career mapping activity, and a WhatsApp handout filled with questions to ask employers.
A highlight of the Skills Late event was how the young volunteers did a presentation on their activities in front of over 200 people!
As a Young Freelancer, I learnt how museums can cater to young people who are eager to kick-start their careers. It was touching to be part of something where young people were listened to and had their views taken to account.
This programme exposed them to gatekeepers of various opportunities; it gave them an opportunity to gain an Arts Award, as well as tangible skills and experience for their own job hunt. It was great to see how the group became increasingly confident as the programme drew on.
To celebrate the start of Transgender Awareness Week, on Monday 12 November 2018, TfL flew the trans pride flag above 55 Broadway. Perhaps the flag, as well as more personal stories, will come to the Museum soon, as we are working to enrich our collection around LGBT+ people’s contributions to London’s transport.
We have been working with OUTbound, one of TfL’s staff network groups, to source some exciting new objects for the collection – one of which you might have spotted in our previous blog #ASKACURATOR. Our Collections Development Group recommended we add the objects below to the Museum’s collection, and we are pleased to share them with you on Transgender Awareness Week.
Placard with roundel in trans pride colours
The TfL roundel in the trans pride colours adorns this placard, made on behalf of members of OUTbound. Earlier this year, roundels and benches with rainbow and trans pride colours were installed for the first time in a handful of stations for London Pride.
We looked into getting hold of a station roundel, but with them being vinyl stickers – like the Gareth Southgate roundel seen this summer – they are torn when removed, and we haven’t yet found a practical solution to preserving them. However our search put us in contact with Andy at OUTbound, who carried this special one-off roundel to support trans colleagues at Brighton Trans Pride in August, and offered it to the Museum.
LGBT+ Ally lanyard
This year, TfL launched a new initiative for LGBT+ allies to help employees create a supportive and inclusive environment for staff and customers. These lanyards were produced and distributed to group members who sign up and make a commitment to supporting the LGBT+ community and learning more about LGBT+ issues. These are a valuable addition to our collection, and we intend to keep a record of training materials too, to help contextualise the lanyards in future.
‘Ride with Pride’ badge
This badge shows the popularity of the ‘Ride with Pride’ campaign, which ran in 2015. As with the roundels, we weren’t able to preserve the bus wraps produced for the campaign. We have a few related objects in the collection, like this poster, and London’s first rainbow crossing. But it’s nice to have this badge as a physical memento, as part of the legacy of ‘Ride with Pride’, alongside photos documenting the project.
These new additions to the collection sit well with some other recent acquisitions, including interviews, posters and oyster card wallets, but they are just a small part of the collection that we hope to build. These objects give us the chance to learn more about LGBT+ experience and London Transport. We are looking forward to collecting more personal stories to go with these objects. This is a topic that we are keen to revisit and we have exciting plans coming up.
With London’s population still on the rise, our capital keeps getting busier and busier. As well as posing problems – or opportunities, depending on your perspective – for the city at an industrial and infrastructural level, this increasing demand for space and resources also impacts on London’s communities and individual inhabitants.
At our Late Debate: Race for space on Thursday 22 November, we will look at how life in the city will change with a growing population. Leading experts from academia, policy and industry will present and discuss innovative ideas of transforming urban space to safeguard the essential social infrastructure needed in our city.
But solutions are also being created at community level: some amazing self-initiated and community-led projects are cropping up across the capital. As part of this Late Debate, a section of our Futures Marketplace will showcase the ways in which these community and grassroots projects are reclaiming, or recalibrating, spaces at stations for public and/or environmental benefit. Whether simply boosting the mood of passers-by or actually contributing to the local economy and culture, these projects link local people to a local need, and make the most of previously underestimated, but every day experienced, public spaces.
This part of our Late Debate: Race for Space is being run in collaboration with our Documentary Curator programme, a scheme of projects in which my colleague Ellie Miles and I are collecting objects and stories that demonstrate the ways in which transport links lives in London today.
If there are any community projects going on at your local stop or station that you think we should be capturing, please get in touch by emailing us at: email@example.com.
Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and London Transport Museum Friends, London Transport Museum is close to completing Battle Bus – the civilian story of the First World War, a five-year programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War which has taken place between 2014-2018.
The Battle Bus project has included the restoration into operational condition of a 1914 London bus, B2737, and a five-year community programme delivered by apprentices and volunteers, which examined different aspects of the war’s impact on ordinary Londoners, and explored key themes over each year of the commemoration.
2014 – Year of the Bus and London to the Western Front
The B-types, were London’s first reliable, mass-produced motor buses. Introduced in 1910, they rapidly replaced horse buses on the Capital’s streets. When war broke out, over 1,000 of these vehicles, a third of London’s bus fleet, were requisitioned for war service. They served as troop transports and ambulances, some were converted into lorries or even mobile pigeon lofts.
B2737 was among the requisitioned vehicles, although it is not known where it served.
The restoration of B2737, known as Battle Bus, was completed in June 2014. It was restored to its original red and cream London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) livery.
Throughout 2014, as part of the Museum’s celebration of the Year of the Bus, B2737 participated in events across London, including a cavalcade of 48 buses displayed on Regent Street; a recreation of route 9, from Barnes to Liverpool Street which it originally ran on; London bus garage open days; the Shuttleworth Airshow; the Worshipful Company of Carmen’s Cart Marking Ceremony; Routemaster 60; the Lord Mayor’s Show, and the National Service of Remembrance.
In September, the bus was converted into a military troop carrier. The windows were fitted with protective boarding, and the body was painted military khaki. The conversion was carried out in the Museum, in public view, and captured on time lapse cameras.
Following the military conversion, the bus departed for a commemorative tour of the Western Front. For ten days, the bus and a mobile exhibition toured Belgium and France, visiting locations where London Buses are known to have served. The tour included the bus participating in the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, and a visit to Bus House Cemetery, named after the wreck of a London bus that was hit by a shell and remained where it was hit through the war.
2015 – London’s Women at War – 100 years of women in transport
To ease the labour shortage created by war, women were recruited for a variety of roles in the transport industry for the first time from 1915. One of the most visible and most controversial of these was the role of bus conductor.
The Battle Bus learning project commemorated the role of women in the war effort with a programme that engaged female bus drivers. They explored the experiences of wartime conductresses and other women working in transport during the war, and reflected on their own experiences 100 years later. Their experiences were featured in a pop-up exhibition that launched at the Museum and went on to tour bus garages and libraries in parts of London associated with the B-type story.
The participants were also offered the chance to experience driving Battle Bus, and chalking their messages on the khaki livery.
Battle Bus Apprentice, Hannah Steele supported a group of young people who developed Battle Bus inspired activities for families at public events at Fire Power, The Royal Military Museum in Woolwich and Westbourne Park Bus Garage Open Day. Their activities featured an original story ‘Barney’s Adventure’ which tells the tale of Barney and Beatrice, two B-type buses separated by war.
After its tour of the Western Front, Battle Bus embarked on a tour of the UK in 2015. The bus and its volunteer crew attended 18 public events, including visits to Beamish Open Air Museum, Crich Tramway Village, Hull, and Reading. It successfully completed the Historic Commercial Vehicles Society London to Brighton road run in May. In August it was taken to Bristol, to commemorate the buses crossing over to the continent from Avonmouth Docks during the war.
2016 – The lost generation of the Somme
Marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, Battle Bus travelled once again to France for a commemorative tour that visited towns and villages along what was the front line in 1916. The bus was displayed at the Thiepval Memorial on 1 July – now the sole veteran present at the commemoration.
The Battle Bus learning project explored the role of underage soldiers and the heavy casualties of the war. Working with successive groups of young volunteers who each passed their work on to the next group to use, a collaborative community exhibition was produced.
A group of university students researched their chosen themes to create the basis for the exhibition. A group of young men from Northumberland Park Community School in Tottenham explored the themes through film and animation. They also visited the Somme battlefields, locating the graves of soldiers whose stories they had learnt about during the project. In addition, they had the opportunity to lay a wreath of poppies during the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate on behalf of the Museum and in commemoration of all transport workers who sacrificed so much for the war effort.
A third group of young people, led by Battle Bus Apprentice Lamare Hart, produced poetry and spoken word, and performed at the opening of the resulting exhibition: From Tottenham to the trenches. The exhibition contained panels based on the first group’s work and videos produced by the second group. It was launched at Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham, and toured other local venues, including the Markfield Beam Engine and Museum.
2017 – Children and war
In 2017, the learning team worked with two Year 4 classes from Lancasterian Primary School in Tottenham and two Year 6 classes from Lyndhurst Primary School in Camberwell. They explored stories of the Home Front and the themes of the Battle Bus, to understand the role of children during the war. Using comic books as their inspiration and working with a professional illustrator, the groups created original stories and artworks which were used to form an exhibition for each school: Home Front Heroes.
A second element of the project, led by Battle Bus Apprentice Joyce Zale, saw the team work with young people and a screen print artist to produce original designs and lead screen print workshops for museum visitors and students from the above mentioned primary schools.
Battle Bus spent a week on display at the British Motor Museum’s First World War event. It also attended the centenary of Biggin Hill Airport where it was explored by a record number of visitors.
2018 – London’s Memory
Battle Bus has continued touring the UK throughout 2018. In July it visited the National Memorial Arboretum, and took part in the Tracks to the Trenches event at Apedale Valley Railway.
To commemorate the end of the war, London Transport Museum brought all the remaining B-type buses together for one day and displayed them in Covent Garden outside the Museum.
Of the nearly 3,000 buses that were built, only four remain today. They all played slightly different roles during and after the war. B2737 was restored to commemorate the buses and transport workers’ sacrifice. B1609 which stayed in London service during the war was recently restored by its owner. B340, also owned by London Transport Museum, carried wounded troops in London during the war, and became the first bus to be preserved for a collection in 1924. B43 was requisitioned for war service and became a mobile war memorial in 1920, taking part in Armistice Day parades, driven behind the London Transport workers. Nicknamed Ole Bill, it was presented to the Imperial War Museum in 1977.
The community learning project has focused on commemoration, with volunteers of all ages working together to explore the meaning of remembrance. Research volunteers dug deep into the Museum’s archives to uncover individual stories of transport workers across the theatres of war. Their research was turned into an exhibition which was open to Museum visitors from Saturday 20 October until Sunday 28 October. Further project volunteers took part in creative workshops with an installation artist to create ‘Forget me Not’ – a hanging artwork made up of over 100 screen printed flowers, symbolic of the hand embroidered postcards send by soldiers to loved ones back home.
This year’s Battle Bus Apprentice, Kamiah Cowell, led a group of young filmmakers on a project to create a film piece focusing on the theme of commemoration. The film is in the final editing stages and will be launched in December.
This five-year commemoration of the centenary will end with a fitting tribute to the civilians whose lives were forever changed by war: B2737 Battle Bus and B340 will participate in the event at the Cenotaph on Armistice Day 2018, A Nation’s Thank You, before going on public display at London Transport Museum.
The Battle Bus programme could not have been possible without the support and commitment of many people: particular thanks go to the Heritage Lottery Fund, London Transport Museum Friends, our Apprentices, Outreach and Research Volunteers, Vehicle Supporters Group, community partners and to everyone that has joined us at events over the last five-years.
Discover our new installation and meet the artist behind the project
On your visit to the London Transport Museum, you’re sure to notice our new Forget Me Not display hanging beautifully above Battle Bus while it is on display at the Museum for the first time.
The new installation, created by artist Jacqui Symons was commissioned to remember the thousands of transport workers involved in the First World War and comprises over 100 flowers to represent the hand embroidered postcards that soldiers sent to their loved ones from the front lines.
Find out more about the project from Jenna and Kamiah from our Learning team who commissioned the project and the artist who created it:
How was the installation created?
Kamiah and Jenna: As part of the Battle Bus project, we commissioned artist Jacqui Symons to work with us on creating a new installation that would hang over Battle Bus. We wanted this work to be co-created with past partners and project participants who had been involved with Battle Bus over the 5 years of the project.
We held workshops at Lancasterian Primary School in Tottenham, Holloway bus garage and Walworth bus depot, as well as a drop-in session for staff and volunteers who had been involved with the project.
During these workshops, participants drew pictures inspired by images from our collection of the B-type buses during the First World War and the role of transport workers, both men and women, during this time. Some of the participants also then created a mono print of their picture. Jacqui used all of these illustrations to decorate the flower shapes that make up the installation.
What inspired you to get involved, Jacqui?
I have been making suspended installations for almost 10 years and I jumped at the chance to do one for London Transport Museum especially as the theme of the exhibition and the suspended installation really inspired me. I found the history of the Battle Bus and London transport workers through the First World War really interesting – I especially liked that women became mechanics and conductors for London’s transport during this time.
What was your inspiration for the piece?
The initial inspiration for the Forget-Me-Not installation were the embroidered postcards that soldiers sent back to their loved ones from the front line during the First World War. Many of these featured flowers and used Floriography (the language of flowers) to send messages of love, hope and remembrance. These flowers now make up the installation, recreated in wonderful colours and suspended in the shape of three flying postcards.
Working with groups and communities is a large part of my practice and it was important to me to include exact versions of people’s artwork within the final piece, so each flower features drawings created by workshop participants around the theme of remembrance.
How were the flowers made?
The flowers are made from laser-cut plywood and screen-printed with participants’ drawings.
Over several months, we worked with various groups to create drawings and monoprints using the theme of remembrance and the Battle Bus as inspiration. We got hundreds of great drawings and prints which were scanned in and exposed onto large scale silk-screens ready for screenprinting.
Once we had agreed on the final flowers to include in the installation, I drew them up on the computer and they were sent off to a laser-cutting company along with 12 large sheets of plywood that I pre-painted in 12 different colours. These cut-out flowers were then individually screen-printed with drawings from the creative workshops.
Do you have a favourite illustration incorporated within the flower design?
Too many to mention! I love them all really. Once you have worked so long with each drawing (scanning them in, creating layouts, optimising them for screen-printing, then printing all the designs) you become intimately familiar with them and appreciate each one for its character and style.
What do you hope LTM visitors will take away from seeing the Forget Me Not display?
The installation was created to remember the thousands of transport workers involved in the First World War, including over 1,400 individuals who sadly lost their lives. We hope that we can share this story with visitors through the installation and the Battle Bus, so that they are still remembered as the centenary of the First World War approaches.
We also hope that visitors will come away with an interest in and some newfound knowledge of the Battle Bus and London’s transport workers and an appreciation of the installation and the meaning of flowers.
Also, hopefully, it will inspire visitors to do some drawing once they have seen all the wonderful artwork on the flowers!
Come and see the Forget Me Not installation at London Transport Museum, to help us remember the important contribution made by London’s transport workers during the First World War, one hundred years ago.
Battle bus will be participating in the civilian procession – A Nation’s Thank You – on Sunday 11 November, to pay tribute to the sacrifice made by London bus drivers who left their regular routes to enlist and serve on the Western Front. Find out more on our website.
After Remembrance Sunday, bus B2737, known as Battle Bus, will return to London Transport Museum where it will be on display until spring 2019.
Join us at the Museum on 10 and 11 November between 11:00 to 15:45 to learn more about our B-type Battle Bus which played an important role in the war effort. Then join us to make simple poppy pins as part of the remembrance weekend commemorations.