Exploring the past and shaping the future

By Sam Mullins OBE, London Transport Museum’s Director

At London Transport Museum we care about making a difference, and we want to reach out and inspire people to shape a better city for the future.  Our core purpose is the inspirational educational work that we do to promote youth engagement with the transport network, to help young Londoners realise their potential and to access all that London has to offer.

As a charitable institution, we have made significant progress on many fronts this year. We have extended the reach of the STARS (Safer Travel, Sustainable, Active, Resilient) programme, and plan to reach all Year 6 children in London in 2020.

Three teenage girls look at an exhibit in the Museum depot
Pupils at a session at the Museum Depot.

We have welcomed an ever growing number of visitors at Covent Garden, encouraged by new interactive exhibitions such as Untangling the Tracks, and thanks to our award-winning Visitor Services team.

Our Hidden London programme continues to grow and embrace new sites and experiences such as Piccadilly Circus, launched in July this year, and Moorgate coming up in February, as well as old favourites Down Street and Clapham South. The programme of tours is supported by a handsome book and the immersive Hidden London: the Exhibition.

Two women look down a disused tunnel at Piccadilly Circus
Disused tunnel at Piccadilly Circus station.

In June, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the District line with a final weekend of steam hauled services on the Underground in central London. The sight of teak Victorian carriages and Met 1 in steam weaving through one of the busiest metro networks in the world delighted and amazed today’s customers. We also operated heritage buses at events across the Capital as well as the unique Imberbus day in the middle of Salisbury Plain.

Our Museum Depot at Acton celebrated its 20th anniversary this year with a record attendance at three Open Weekends, as well as school visits, guided tours and skills sessions which use our rich collections. The London Transport Miniature Railway carried record numbers of passengers, and its operations were improved with new carriage sheds and works on the tracks during a family volunteering day in October.

A man driving a miniature rail train with two children and one other adult on board.
London Transport Miniature Railway at the Acton Depot.

The Depot is still nearly unique as a publicly accessible store, enabling public access to our extensive collections, hosting a raft of significant volunteer projects such as the restoration of the Q stock and the Victoria line automatic train exhibit, a base for heritage bus and rail operations, and a secure store for posters, artworks, ephemera and the whole spectrum of our collections.

Interior view of the Q stock train
1930s Q stock car.

We can only produce such a busy programme thanks to wonderful volunteers, corporate support and London Transport Museum Friends working with our creative staff group. You too can support us as a volunteer and with your visit. Every purchase made in our shop in Covent Garden and online helps us deliver our charitable work, so you can even support us by wearing our moquette socks!

Close up of a leg with the mountain of Mavhu Picchu in the background
Sam and his Routemaster moquette socks in Machu Picchu.

Next year our visitors can look forward to a new London at War gallery in the Museum, celebrations of TfL’s 20th anniversary, a refreshed holiday activity offer for our younger visitors, three Open Weekends at the Acton Depot and more Hidden London tours.

Sign up to our enewsletter and follow us on social media to keep updated. It’s one step at a time towards 2020.

Family Volunteering at the Museum Depot

By Sam Clift, Volunteer Resource Manager

This year we have been striving to reach out to wider audiences with volunteering and provide interesting and meaningful ways for people to get involved with the Museum.

On Saturday 26 October, we hosted our first family volunteering day at the Museum Depot in Acton. The event was hosted in partnership with The Family Volunteering Club, as part of a wider pilot series of events aimed at families in London.

The day provided families with an opportunity to visit our Museum Depot on a weekend afternoon, and spend some recreational time together supporting the Museum. The day focused on working with our London Transport Miniature Railway team, who spend a large part of the year maintaining and investing in the miniature railway from track repairs, to signal upgrades and everything in between to prepare the railway for providing public rides at Depot Open Weekends.

Children and adults sweeping leave off a miniature rail track

Despite the weather being wet and gloomy, everyone arrived with bags of enthusiasm. The group were welcomed in the Depot lecture theatre by Keith Raeburn, Depot Logistics Supervisor, Maddy Mills, founder of The Family Volunteering Club and myself, before heading outdoors to see the miniature railway. Families got stuck in with tidying up the grassy areas, clearing leave from the track (yes that happens on miniature railways too!) and loosening screws on the track ready to be replaced.

A child and an adult wearing a hi-vis jacket screw bolts into the tracks of a miniature rail.

As the rain continued we took some respite by heading into the lecture theatre for tea and coffee and to make use of the soft play facilities. The children enjoyed the down time and it gave time for more informal conversations, with one youngster expressing his enthusiasm for 20th century EMU recognition!

Three cildren play with a wooden train model while sitting on soft mats

The volunteers were rewarded for their efforts with a ride on the miniature railway at the end. All the families enjoyed their time with us, and everyone left with beaming smiles on their faces. Some parents commented:

A patient team who made sure each child had a good experience.

My son asked lots of questions and everyone was lovely and friendly to him. Great experience.

Keep an eye on our website for more volunteering opportunities coming up in 2020!