Some of the many buses at the Depot – from right to left, a ‘garden seat’ horse bus, a B type motorbus, a K type motorbus and an NS type motorbus

Opening the Museum Depot for a new summer season

By Fenella Goodhart, Head of Learning, and Matt Brosnan, Head Curator

Planning is now underway to get the London Transport Museum’s Depot in Acton open in August.  We can’t wait to welcome visitors and staff back and to unlock this treasure trove of London’s transport history.

We are planning a family experience at the Depot for two weeks  from 19-23 and 26-30 August 2020.  It will be a timed ticket offer so that we can control numbers and ensure a safe and relaxing experience for visitors.  We will create a trail of the Depot vehicle sheds which will not only reveal some of the stories of this rarely seen collection but also keep those Maths and Literacy neurons for firing over the summer holidays!

View overlooking train shed inside Museum Depot in Acton

Our vehicles are some of the crown jewels in our rich collection. We care for 85 vehicles including buses, trains, trams, taxis and even a tractor. Some are on display at the Museum in Covent Garden, but opening our much larger Depot gives visitors a detailed insight into how travel in London has changed since the nineteenth century. It is also an impressive sight to stand in the space and take in a bus and tram shed packed full of vehicles and row upon row of Underground trains.

Some of the many buses at the Depot – from right to left, a ‘garden seat’ horse bus, a B type motorbus, a K type motorbus and an NS type motorbus

On their trail in August, visitors can encounter a beautiful ‘garden seat’ horse bus dating from 1881, a time when London’s streets were filled with horse-drawn traffic. Immediately alongside is a handsome red B type bus from 1911, the very first mass produced type of motorbus in the world. Visitors will see for themselves that not all London buses were red, with brown, green and even gold examples at the Depot.

A view along one of the walkways between rail vehicles, including a Metropolitan Railway wagon (right) that was in service from 1897 to 1970

Visitors will also be able to weave their way around an array of trains that have served London’s commuters since the early days of the Underground. They range from the functional to the beautiful. Practical vehicles like an 1897 ballast wagon and a 1939 sleet locomotive share rails with a shiny red 1938 Stock Tube train filled with stylish Art Deco touches.

Inspired by the collection, we will be providing family visitors with their very own sealed, activity pack to use on site or take home.  We will be making use of the large outdoor area behind the Depot to allow families time to rest and relax in the fresh air and dip into their activity packs.  Hopefully snacks and hot drinks will also be available for visitors.

Green Routemaster bus outside Museum Depot

And to top it off,  the London Transport Miniature Railway will be up and running, completing the Depot experience with this much loved attraction.

London Transport Museum Miniature Railway. Driver is facing away from camera with three passengers on board behind him

Foremost in our minds in planning the reopening of the Museum Depot is creating a safe, welcoming and enjoyable experience for visitors and staff.  Managing numbers and social distancing, a robust cleaning regime for all, friendly and knowledgeable staff and clearly planned and signposted one way routes are top of our list of priorities.  We look forward to keeping you posted on our planning and welcoming you to the Depot for our summer season from the 19 August 2020.

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