This blog is part of a mini-series of updates about the Battle Bus Research Volunteer Project. To keep up-to-date with all the latest programme activities, please visit the ‘Battle Bus’ section in London Transport Museum blog.
This year the Battle Bus project is focussing on ‘London’s Memories’. We are starting the programme of activities with a research volunteer project, to uncover stories of transport workers involved in the First World War.
Marta Kronberga, one of our research volunteers, describes what happened in the project’s first session:
This week we were based at the Museum Depot at Acton. We started the morning with some group activities to get to know each other better and discussed what makes good presentation skills. We then went to explore the famous Battle Bus, with curator Katariina Mauranen, who worked on the bus restoration project.
This amazing B-type bus was introduced in London in 1910, and was operated by the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC). More than 1,000 of these buses were sent to war, many with their bus drivers. They were used to transport troops to and from the front lines. After the war, only around 400 buses came back to London and many were in such bad condition they were just used for parts.
It was such an interesting experience. We got to hear about the story of the Battle Bus, sit on the top deck, see all the little details and some of us even got a chance to sit in the driver’s seat!
After lunch it was time for some more group activities. This time each group created a presentation from documents we were given, to get us in the mood to start thinking about the Battle Bus research project. We discussed the First World War in general, remembrance of the war and stories of individual transport workers. Everybody was really interested in the postcards and letters sent from or to soldiers, and the personal stories they showed.
At the end of the day we were given a tour of the Depot by Keith Raeburn, the Depot Supervisor. It was a great chance to see the development of London buses. We saw everything from horse-drawn omnibuses to ones that are almost the same as the buses on London streets today. We also saw posters and objects from the collection and of course Underground trains that were used throughout the 20th century.
At the end of the day it was clear that we have a great group of volunteers with different interests and backgrounds. Hopefully this will give us some fascinating outcomes at the end of the project. Let’s see where this research will take us!
Comeback every week to read the latest instalment on how our volunteers are getting on with their Battle Bus project.