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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.