Restoration update – February 2012

Over the past six months good progress has been made on restoring the carriage. After removing most of the exterior panelling to reveal the framework, work started on repairing the main structure and roof timbers. Nothing unforeseen has been discovered and overall the condition of the woodwork is very good. With the insertion of new compartment partition walls made of Pitch Pine (as originally fitted), the profile of the carriage body has been gently restored and subsequently stabilised.

Exterior corner areas of the carriage that had suffered from rot have been cut out and repaired using prime Teak. Minor damage to exterior woodwork caused by cracking and shrinkage has been repaired using glued in plugs and slips. Where possible the repair is made of Teak salvaged from parts of the carriage that can’t otherwise be reused. Although visible when varnished, the repair respects the integrity of the carriage and allows clear identification of where work has taken place. Whilst most of the restoration is taking place in the workshops at Boston Lodge, the fabrication of modular items such as replica gas lamps, seating and door handles are taking place off-site and will be added later during the project.

What’s next? A great deal of thought has been going into the design of the underframe and how it will be modified to accommodate the carriage body. Auto-Cad drawings have been produced detailing the proposed changes and have been checked by an independent Assurance Engineer. The task of stripping and shortening the underframe is expected to start in the next few weeks. In terms of schedule for completion, the project is still on target to return the carriage to operational condition by October 2012. To find out more about the project please see: www.ltmuseum.co.uk/collections/projects/met-353

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Sense the City: Meet the Photographer Q&A – Danielle Houghton

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

Tube story by Danielle Houghton
Tube story by Danielle Houghton, 2011

 

Tell us about the inspiration behind your photo
My inspiration behind the photograph was simply to capture the feeling and look of London.  As a visitor to London I always enjoy the vibrant diversity of people and the buzz about the place, I never tire of observing people.  I was quite taken with the ladies clearly at the beginning of their night out as they were having an animated conversation with lots of oohs and aahs.  In contrast beside them caught up in the technology we all enjoy was somebody whose look I thought was very ‘London’ I loved his ring shades and vest and I could not resist documenting that moment.

How long have you been involved with photography?
It first excited me as a teenager over 20 years ago and has remained a passion ever since.  In the years where I did not have access to a camera I immersed myself in photography books so I always stayed connected.

What equipment do you use?
At the time I took the photograph I used a Nikon D70 DSLR which alas is now in need of repair.  Currently I either use a Nikon Coolpix 5400 or a Canon EOS 1100D.

What inspires you?
In terms of who inspires me there are many photographers I follow and enjoy, to name a few – Martin Parr, William Eggleston, Stephen Gill, Rinko Kawauchi, the Street Photographers in In-Public and many contacts I have made through using flickr.

In terms of what inspires me, it is mainly the excitement I get from human observation and the thrill of trying to capture interesting people and unique, funny, or surreal moments.

What is your preferred subject matter?
Besides photographing my children my closest affiliation is to Street Photography, i.e. capturing strangers in a candid way in public places, though occasionally I am happy to shoot anything that catches my eye be it an animal or architecture etc. People in essence are unique and  provide endless opportunities to photograph. I find myself drawn to oddities and humor, connections and clichés.  I hope to reveal the fun and fascination and even sometimes sadness of life.  I try to present moments and coincidences in a visually pleasing manner.

Plans for the future?
To keep on taking photographs no matter what.  I would like to develop a few different series – for example I can’t wait to return and take more shots on the tube.  I also like the idea of taking random bus journeys and seeing what unfolds, maybe even leaning towards a social documentary series.   Ultimately I would like to build up a strong portfolio of Street Photographs and publish a book one day.

Describe your photography in one word.
Fun

Further information

http://www.flickr.com/photos/larking-about/

Debate: Shock the System – Between Public and Private

On Wednesday evening the Museum held a stimulating public debate on the issues surrounding our increasing adoption of technology for enhanced mobility, safety and communication, and the equally increasing sacrifices we make for such conveniences, namely our right to privacy.

Sam Mullins, the Museum’s Director, opened the debate with an introduction to our current temporary exhibition Sense and the City: smart, connected and on the move, which explores how technology is changing the way we interact with the city.[i] Broadcaster and author, Robert Elms[ii] chaired the panel which included the London Mayor’s Director of Environment and Digital London Kulveer Ranger,[iii] the Evening Standard’s Comment Editor Andrew Neather, [iv] the  and award-winning documentary filmmaker David Bond.[v]

Robert opened the debate with a summary of the ways in which we are surveyed in the UK today, noting that we are monitored by over 1.8m CCTV cameras, evaluated through our use of store loyalty cards, identified through face recognition and followed by satellites. On average we make 68 CCTV appearances a day, making us quite literally one of the most watched societies in the world.

Such surveillance has today thrown us headlong into what Kulveer Ranger termed a ‘Wild West’ of data, where the sheer volume creates a chaotic digital cacophony that is almost impossible to make any sense of. Despite this the desire by companies, organisations and government bodies to obtain this data is increasing exponentially. This is unsurprising as the collective accumulation of such data is slowly painting a picture of our digital psychology. Its value therefore can be equated with the California Gold Rush, with our information bargained for, sold-off and eventually melted down. In this metaphorical world, it will be the Social Media ‘merchants’ and not the Organisational ‘miners’ who will reap the greatest rewards.

During the debate it seemed evident that we must, willingly or reluctantly, handover such data and thereby sacrifice parts of our privacy in return for society’s benefits. But what do we sacrifice and what do we retain as sacred? This was the question which encompassed two main areas of discussion – ‘Dataveillance’, focussing particularly on CCTV, and Social Media.

Dataveillance
Dataveillance can be broadly defined as ‘the systematic monitoring of people’s actions or communications through the application of information technology.’ (Clark, 1988) Such surveillance is typified by the use of CCTV. One American member of the audience at the debate noted our obsession in the UK with the CCTV camera, viewing its presence as the prognosticator of an Orwellian state ominously over-obsessed with security. Indeed, it was discovered in 2009, through a Freedom of Information request made by the BBC to local authorities in the UK, that both the Shetland Islands Council (Scotland) and Corby Borough Council (England) had more CCTV cameras than the San Francisco Police Department, despite being among the smallest local authorities in the UK.  In London the borough which boasted the highest number of CCTV cameras was Wandsworth, with just under four cameras per 1,000 people – a number which exceed those of the police departments of Boston Massachusetts, Johannesburg and Dublin City Council combined. While exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that London has just under 8,000 CCTV cameras, which seems to put Paris’ count of just over 300 to shame.

But why this obsession? Is it because the British population, for the most part, still trust their governing body? David Bond noted in the debate that in Germany, due to its relatively recent experience with a dictatorial and ruthless state, the people are much more sceptical about relinquishing their privacy in return for assumed security. We do not have such a history and therefore view ‘dataveillance’ as intrinsic to our very security. Our level of trust is both variable and debatable however the truth may be that we are no more accepting of Big Brother than any other society or culture, but rather have allowed ourselves, as Kulveer noted, to simply ‘sleep-walk’ into the current system which has become invisible through ubiquity.

Social Media
Social media and privacy seem somewhat mutually exclusive terms, and yet in no other area has the defence of privacy (at least in recent times) been so highly fought over. One need only recall the various scandals to have plagued Facebook when it decided to change its privacy settings on the site, thereby affecting the visibility of users’ ‘personal’ information.

While many Facebook users – around 845 million of them – have several hundred ‘friends’ to whom they freely reveal their private lives, others see Facebook as a potential window to the world of employment. David Bond noted that Harvard graduates he spoke to did not tell the truth about their lives on Facebook for fear such information could be used against them, the ‘truth’ being of course that we are all flawed and make mistakes. Of course, the Harvard graduates here are not exceptional. We all ‘brand’ ourselves in some way within our own social media spheres, projecting a more refined, cultured or intelligent self. We want to believe – as much as we want to convince others – that we are indeed better than we are. However those who do choose (through naivety or for catharsis) to reveal such truths may grow to wish they hadn’t. Bond commented that he was able to outgrow his own youthful political beliefs and strange haircuts in a way his children will most likely be unable to.

With regards to how social media defines our information stream, Andrew Neather commented that the current Levenson inquiry would likely result in regulatory conditions which would curtail the freedom of the press, thereby making Twitter – unfettered by such ethical restrictions – a dominant force in news coverage. Attaining ‘the highest ethical and professional standards’ (as stated on the Levenson inquiry website) will likely not provide us with the meaty information we so desire and lead to the atrophication of traditional press coverage as we know it. As Lewis Carroll said ‘The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.’

Has the very notion of privacy now become synonymous with the more ominous notion of secrecy and, if so, will those wishing to maintain their privacy be increasingly viewed with suspicion…after all, if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear, right?


[i] This debate was part of a series of events to support the Sense and the City: smart, connected and on the move exhibition which looks at our past conceptions about what the future would look like, and asks questions about how technology might change our lives in years to come. The exhibition closes on 18 March 2012.

[ii] Robert Elms presents a long running radio show on BBC London 94.9.  The show features reports, discussions, and call-ins about Greater London, the history, architecture, geography, city planning, and language of London. He is also the author of several books including, The Way We Wore, which charts the changing fashions of his own youth during the 1960s to 1980s, linking them with the social history of the times.

[iii] Kulveer Ranger oversees a portfolio of responsibilities encompassing quality of life (including greening London, air quality and energy efficiency) and supporting the development of the hi-tech business sector across the capital on behalf of the Mayor of London. He is also responsible for cycling, including the cycle hire scheme. Kulveer was previously the Mayor’s Transport Advisor between 2008 and 2011, sitting on the board of Transport for London and chairing the Mayor’s River Concordat. Before joining the Mayor’s Office, Kulveer spent ten years in management consultancy. He is also a former Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party and was an advisor to two Shadow Cabinet members in Opposition.

[iv] Andrew Neather has been the Comment Editor, chief leader writer and wine critic of the Evening Standard since 2004. He writes especially on London, transport and environmental issues. He was formerly civil service speechwriter to prime minister Tony Blair and to home secretaries David Blunkett and Jack Straw. Prior to that he worked as a writer and editor for Friends of the Earth, the Labour Party and the US United Auto Workers. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge and Duke University, North Carolina, from where he obtained a PhD in US history. He lives in south London and tweets as @hernehillandy

[v] David Bond is an award-winning director, producer and writer of documentary, commercial and short film projects. He graduated from the Met Film School in 2004 and since then has completed various film projects exploring social and political themes.  Erasing David is David’s first feature documentary, and explores how much information is available about David and his family in the public domain.David put himself under surveillance and attempted to disappear, going on the run and hiring two private detectives to track him down. The results forced him to contemplate the meaning of privacy – and the loss of it. David co-runs production company Green Lions with his creative partner Ashley Jones.

The Land of Hopeful Commuters – Staff responses

We’ve had a fantastic response so far to ‘The Land of Hopeful Commuters‘ – thank you! So where do Londoners hope to be?  ‘Where the currency is trust and everyone is wealthy’, ‘Baking brownies blissfully by Battersea before brunch’ and ‘Right here, right now’.

If you haven’t had a chance to contribute yet you can do so online at: www.ltmuseum.co.uk/landofhopefulcommuters

Today I filmed some of the London Transport Museum staff (thank you, willing participants!). Watch their responses here: LTMuseumvideo on YouTube

The Land of Hopeful Commuters – Londoners, we need you!

‘Where do you hope to be?’

We’re collecting your responses to this question at http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/landofhopefulcommuters, which will be used by the artist Agnès Poitevin-Navarre to create a new artwork for the Museum’s ‘Mind the Map’ exhibition!

I’ll be spending today in the Museum’s galleries with one of our volunteers, Darren, asking Museum visitors where they hope to be. Last week we did a survey of Museum staff to get their responses, which Agnès used to create the below example of how the final artwork might look. Here’s some of the Museum staff’s responses, just to get the creative juices flowing:

– Picnicking in the park this summer, laughing with friends in London Fields
– New York
– In a place where my achievements outweigh my ambitions

I’ll be posting updates on the project as it develops. Look forward to receiving your response soon!

Sense the City: Meet the Photographer Q&A – Geoff Holland

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

See Red by Geoff Holland, 2011

Tell us about the inspiration behind your photo
I had been at an Anti War rally which walked from Trafalgar Square to Downing St. I was on my way home.  I’d taken a lot of photos of the rally in the square and of the protest outside Downing St. Taking some photos of telephone boxes and tourists was a light relief. I took six shots in quick succession centred on the two telephone boxes. I love telephone boxes and struck lucky with the convergence of symmetry and colour.

How long have you been involved with photography?
I took my first photos with my Mum’s Ilford Box camera in the 1950’s. I learnt how to process black and white at Blandford Secondary Modern School and my summer job before starting an engineering apprenticeship in 1962, was camp photographer at Rockley Sands Caravan Holiday Camp near Pool in Dorset. Photography continued to be one of my pastimes for the next few decades and I have a lot of photos in the attic, but I only rediscovered the enthusiasm of those early years again, when I took up digital and four photogenic grandchildren came along. Shortly after I was introduced to Flickr which is a great outlet for my ego!

What equipment do you use?
I have a Nikon D40 (usually regarded as an entry level SLR). On the day I took ‘See Red’ I had bought a new lens, a Sigma 17-70mm at Spectrum on Tottenham Court Rd, one of the few real camera shops still existing. I also have a Sigma 70-300mm which I also bought at Spectrum, as I did my D40 and my first digital camera which was a Konica Minolta Z5 Dimage. I’m always thinking about ‘up-grading’ but find the D40 reliable and light and the Sigma’s extend it considerably too.

What inspires you?
I like to record things, capture moments, document what I see. To get a satisfying image, with symmetry and good proportions. Colour and light is key too and I am drawn to it. Walking home from work tonight the early evening below zero clear sky was brilliant and luminous and I thought, now if I had a tripod with me…… mind I also thought there are limits to the sacrifices I’ll make in the pursuit of my pastime, it was very cold! Flickr has also enabled me to share my photos with other enthusiasts and I like that too.

What is your preferred subject matter?
I love buildings, birds and butterflies and everything which lights up my life. To some extent it goes with the season, recently, I’ve been photographing a lot of ducks.  It also hinges on what I’m doing and where I am. I’m always on the look out for a photogenic subject. I mainly use natural light. I’ve no experience of specialist lighting and only recently learnt a bit about taking photos in low artificial light without flash.

Plans for the future?
Maybe, projects with a more focussed approach. I’m inspired by a series titled ‘faces and non faces’ by a photographer on Flickr who goes by the name of ThePhotoSchool (Natalie Clark).  In many of the shots taken in Camden Lock the main subjects are looking away from the photographer, but the excellent composition and colour and body language still makes for powerful images.  Maybe do a course or two when I have more time. Maybe a portfolio of prints……

Describe your photography in one word.
Rewarding

Further information

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mygazebo/

Stories of the World annual conference at Leeds City Museum

On 9th November 2011 Stories of the World held their annual conference at Leeds City Museum. An opportunity for project co-ordinators and participants from across the country to get together and share news, updates and information about the projects they’ve been working on. Representing London Transport Museum on the day were Michelle Brown (Community Curator), Peter Crump (Young Consultant), Steve Gardam (Acting Head of Live Programmes), Elvis Miranda (Young Consultant), Kway Mokgalagadi (Young Consultant), Rhian Morris (Schools & Young People Programmes Manager), Izara De Nobrega (Young Consultant) and Vicki Pipe (Learning Officer: Young People).

This film, produced by Chocolate Films, explores the ideas and issues raised on the day, and also stars a number of LTM’s Young Consultants!

Preparing for ‘Mind the Map’ at LTM Depot – by Peter Crump Young Consultant

On Saturday 7th January the Young Consultants took a trip to the London Transport Museum Depot.

We had the amazing opportunity to work with curator Claire Dobbin, and we were luckily granted the chance to help select the pocket maps to appear in the upcoming exhibition “Mind the Map”.

The Depot, based in Acton Town holds the history of London Transport from pocket maps & posters to the last buses and trains of their kind, which eventually receive funding for repair and gets used as exhibits in places like the LTM.

During my action packed day at the Depot I learnt a lot of information on the history of transport which gave me the answers to many unanswered questions.; such as how the underground map we use today was created.

I explored the different types of pockets maps from the past 200 years, looking at various different designers and how and why they have changed.

I’d say the LTM Depot is a mind-blowing environment for transport fans everywhere and would definitely advice you to attend the public open days. For information on these days check out http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/museum-depot/events.

London Commuters – WE NEED YOU!

In one week from today you’ll get the chance to contribute to a major artwork that will be displayed in our upcoming Mind the Map exhibition, 18th May to 28th October.

The artist Agnès Poitevin-Navarre is working with us to create a new map of London based on Londoners’ responses to a mystery question that will only be revealed next Wednesday 8th February in the Metro newspaper and on the Museum’s website. We’ll be collecting responses from Wednesday 8th February until Friday 10th February so watch this space! If you’d like to be one of the first to receive the questionnaire then register your interest by contacting michelle.brown@ltmuseum.co.uk.

Agnès Poitevin-Navarre

You can read more about Agnes and her work at http://www.agnespnavarre.com