Volunteers are integral to everything we do here at the Museum. Gabby Brent is just one of many people who give up their time to assist in the running of the Museum. He is also a member of the National Autistic Society and he, along with five other members of the Society, was given the opportunity to take part in one of a number of community learning projects the Museum is undertaking to celebrate both the restoration of Metropolitan ‘Jubilee’ Carriage 353 and the Underground’s 150th anniversary.
Gabby kindly agreed to speak to me about his experience of this particular project. More information can be found here but as a brief overview Gabby and the other participants took part in a two and a half day creative learning project exploring the restored Victorian Carriage 353, and related subjects and themes, through the use of drawing, applique and embroidery techniques. By the end, each participant ended up with a beautiful felt depiction of Carriage 353.
Participants drew up plans based on a particular theme relating to 353, and choose particular materials for their artwork. Having done all that, they had to cut and stick materials to produce their panel. Gabby’s theme was the comparison between old and new, and he produced a wonderful piece of work contrasting Carriage 353 and the new S-Stock now running on the Metropolitan Line. Gabby was understandably very proud of what he had produced.
Asked for his favourite thing about the project, Gabby noted that he particularly liked drawing both old and new versions of Metropolitan Line trains. He enjoyed putting the drawings side by side to evaluate the ways transport has progressed over the last 150 years. He also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the history of the Underground, thanks to a Museum tour given by our Visitor Services Manager Michael Dipre and generally exploring around the galleries. There was also a fascinating video showing the history of Carriage 353, from a first class carriage working on the Metropolitan Railway prior to 1900, through to its use as a garden shed, and finally its restoration.
Gabby enjoyed the format of the project, having to work in teams to discuss the history of London Underground, and also debating its future. The group atmosphere was really friendly, with everyone getting on well together. A highlight was the chance to dress up in old London Transport uniforms. It was great fun, and Gabby personally learnt that the style of the hats that people wore many years ago is still the style used today!
Unlike the other participants, Gabby also volunteers at London Transport Museum. He helps with school trip bookings and craft projects, such as creating station models for London Underground. He has volunteered since 2011 but has visited since the 1990s. Museums are a great passion of his and we are very lucky to have his help here.
When asked for his general thoughts on the project, Gabby made it clear that he had really enjoyed himself. He got on well with his fellow participants, loved learning about the Underground and Carriage 353, enjoyed the dressing up, and was proud of his felt artwork. A pretty good couple of days, I’d say!
Written by William Cooper, Marketing & Development Intern