Marble Arch Signal Frame progress at Acton

Peter at the circuit board

At the Museum Depot we have a fantastic team who regularly work together to restore and maintain some of our signalling equipment that we have acquired, such as the York Road and Marble Arch signal frames.  They are currently working on restoring Marble Arch back in to working order, and have gone through a long journey of acquiring parts and the right skills and input.  Bill Collins from the signalling team has proved an update on their current progress, and how 2012 looks for them:

“We are currently wiring up the two frames (Eastbound & Westbound) that will go into the equipment cabinet that will allow us to control Marble Arch frame. We then need to connect the equipment cabinet via multicore cables to the frame & diagram plus train description and miscellaneous items to the frame.

We have all the items we need and are making good progress towards March 10th (Our next Depot Open Weekend). I’m not yet convinced that we will have all up & working by then but we do have the computer side of things already done and tested. This allows us to test our items but most importantly allows us to ‘produce’ trains, and then via the Signalling frame allow them to run through the station or terminate and reverse west to east via the siding.

There are also all of the train descriptions to manage along with operating the frame. Naturally we will have to test all of the above if we are to have things working by then, but whatever happens, I believe we will be able to demonstrate some ‘life’ happening with Marble Arch by then!”

Sense the City: Meet the Photographer Q&A – Stephen Banks

This Q&A is part of the Sense the City Flickr Project. For background on this project see Sense the City – Flickr Project.

Better to just ignore him..., by Stephen Banks, 2011

Tell us about the inspiration behind your photo
I visited London back in December, partly to do a tour of the galleries and museums, but also partly to expose myself to better street photography opportunities. My home town in a place called Bridport, in West Dorset. Although it is a lovely place to live, it doesn’t have anywhere near the kind of buzz and spontaneity of a city like London.

How long have you been involved with photography?
Pretty much all my life (all 22 years of it so far). I had always been fascinated with whatever camera my mum or nan had, but never really got taking photographs until I was in my teens. My passion for photography came about during one general studies lesson in the first year of Sixth Form at The Blue Coat School in Liverpool. We were told to go out and take macro photographs and whoever came back with the best one won a prize. I hadn’t chosen art for either GCSE or A Level, so my result wasn’t very good. Needless to say, I didn’t win. But I was inspired. I could do something so fun and it was considered as work!

What equipment do you use?
The majority of my professional work at Watershed PR is done on a Nikon D7000 dSLR with a variety of prime lenses. I also do a fair amount of video work with this. Street photography is handled with my little Panasonic Lumix GF2 and 14mm pancake lens, although I have until recently ventured out with cameras such as a Lomo LC-A and my beloved Leica M3. The film cameras don’t see the light of day much any more, but I still keep a fair collection of them.

What inspires you?
Young people getting out there and giving it a fair crack. There’s plenty of creative kids around here in Bridport, but they either don’t have the drive to push themselves, or they succeed and leave the area because of the lack of jobs. I’m sure it’s different in the city, but with the job market as it is at the moment, I know I’m extremely lucky to be in a job I enjoy so much.

I also subscribe to around 50 creative website RSS feeds, so that keeps my creative brain ticking over in my spare time. Beats sitting in front of the television all night!

What is your preferred subject matter?
Candid street photography. I love seeing how people act on the street and I react accordingly with my street photography. Oddities in behaviour, juxtapositions, visual puns, all that jazz

Plans for the future?
Get a car and a house. Oh, in terms of my photography? Well I’ve just completed a time lapse starscape project in the local area called Bridport by Night: – as much as a video can do around here, it’s gone viral. So, once the buzz dies down about that (I set a target of matching the number of views with Wikipedia’s population count of 12,977 for Bridport), I will be working on a series of short films and trying to improve the first version of Bridport by Night with some new shots.

Describe your photography in one word.


Further Information

Stephen Banks Website:
Stephen Banks Flickr Photostream:
Stephen Banks on Twitter: @DorsetScouser

Sense the City – Flickr Project

The Museum recently collaborated with Londonist on our first Flickr photography project.

Taking inspiration from our current exhibition: Sense and the City, we challenged you to stop a while and sense the city. We wanted snapshots of ‘smart, connected and on the move’ London: a city buzzing with activity 24 hours a day.

We had an amazing response to the project, over 600 photographs were submitted:

Fifty short listed photographs were selected and are now on display on our Flickr wall in the Museumgallery. Judges Clive Birch (Visiting Tutor on the Royal College of Art’s vehicle Design Programme) and Johanna Empson (Talks and Events Programmer at the Photographers gallery) selected three of the photographs for special commendation. They were:

  • Tube Story by Danielle Houghton
  • Better to just ignore him… by Stephen Banks
  • See Red by Geoff Holland

We thought it might be nice to learn a little bit about the photographers behind the chosen entries, so we will feature the three photographers in a ‘Meet the photographer Q & A’ session.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank again to all those photographers who took part in the project, the judges and of course Londonist. Interviews with Danielle and Geoff to follow soon!

Behind the Painting by Numbers Poster Parade

On the 6th January curators and museum technical assistants spent the early morning installing the new poster parade ‘Painting by numbers’. The display shows posters which creatively adopt facts and figures to celebrate the increase of efficiency, reliability and progress of London transport operators but also offer solutions to problems faced by commuters on their journeys.

Selecting the posters for display was a tough decision, and was heartbreaking to see some excluded from the final 20. Two artworks from 1953 by Tom Eckersley (above), one of the leading poster designers, were found on our catalogue but could not be included in the exhibition as our aim is to show posters rather than rough sketches and drawings.

Interestingly the design stage of the artworks didn’t go further than the drawing board, so their design was never taken forward and seen by the public on the Underground.

Another poster which was unearthed on the catalogue dates back to 1912, and is by an unknown artist. It’s a nifty design which shows a bar chart comparing the speed of different modes of transport. The poster promotes the use of the Tube by claiming it is the quickest and easiest way to get around London. If you look closely you’ll be able to see a snail at the bottom of the chart as one of the comparisons!

For the final 20 selection come and see the display which will be up until the 22nd March 2012.

Collecting for 2013 – Since 7/7

As you will know from the other Collecting for 2013 posts, one of the main aims of this collaborative collecting project linked to the Underground’s 150th anniversary is to explore what the Underground means to the people of London, and how these passengers experience the Tube.

‘Since 7/7’ became one of these collecting projects. Exploring the impact that the terrorist attacks of July 7th 2005 has had on people’s association and experience of the Underground is a challenging concept, but one which the Museum wanted to begin to touch on. Working in partnership with Olivia Bellas at The Original Ranch and photographer Francisco Serrano, a sensitive and open project was launched in the summer of 2011.

Using social media, Olivia asked people to consider the following:

What is your security blanket?

We all have something we carry in our wallet, the song we play, that feeling or act that makes it all the more confortable. Since 7/7, travel on the London Underground might feel different to you. What is your security blanket?

Responses were varied and thought provoking. Francisco selected seven of these responses and transformed them into photographs, shot on location at London Transport Museum’s Depot in Acton Town. The seven images can be seen here.

Has your experience of the Underground changed since 7/7?

Depot Discoveries – first batch of films on YouTube

After a couple of sessions with the Museum’s Friends and volunteers, and some great editing by film maker Geoff Marshall, the first round of Depot Discoveries films is now available to view on YouTube! Head over to to check them out, and let us know what you think.

Our next Depot Open Weekend is taking place on March 10 and 11. We’ll be making the most of this opportunity to trial out accessing these videos, so be sure to bring your smartphone or device with you on the day. Around four objects will be marked with new Depot Discoveries labels, featuring QR codes for you to scan, and I’ll be around with some trusty volunteers to hear what you think of the interpretation scheme.  We hope to have Wi-Fi access available too, making it even easier to get online whilst in the store.

Many thanks to those of you who have contributed so far. If anyone would like to feature on camera as part of this project, get in touch with me at and we’ll get planning!