A brief history of London Tran-Sports!

By Ellie Miles, Documentary Curator

Did you know that London Underground has its own football league? Every year two divisions of teams compete for the cup. It’s a popular competition with non-league enthusiasts. The London Underground Football League was set up in 1996. In the early years you had to work on a particular line to play for their squad. Since then it’s been opened up to all TfL employees, and players can transfer without changing jobs!

Piccadilly FC players in their new moquette-inspired 2020 kit, London Transport Museum, September 2020

Transport employee sports teams have a long history. Early in the twentieth century, companies operating London transport ran sports team for employees, to help keep company morale high. These included subsidised facilities like tennis courts, football pitches and athletics tracks.

A trophy in the shape of a little silver cherub sitting on three silver balls
Trophy; awarded to women employees for singles lawn tennis championship, 1935, London Transport Museum Collection
A gold trophy in the shape of three naked men holding a cup
Cup commemorating the winners of sports competitions played between 1929 and 1974 by London Transport and Metro de Paris, 1929- 1974, London Transport Museum collection

In 1933 these clubs and societies became part of London Transport, which at one time owned 11 sports grounds. The depots and garages had their own teams, and some of the most popular sports included football, cricket and darts. There were also popular athletics competitions and there were international competitions against teams from the Paris Metro.

Black and white photo of six men in swimming gear with two trophy cups in front of them
Winners of LGOC swimming trophy 1913, London Transport Museum Collection

Many of the clubs closed in 1984 when London Transport restructured, and eventually following government cuts, the sports grounds were sold off in the 1990s. At that point, the company arranged to use other facilities and set up the football league – which has been running ever since.

Ellie Miles and the Piccadilly FC team at London Transport Museum

Earlier this month, the Piccadilly FC team presented their new moquette-inspired kit at London Transport Museum. The kit is now part of our collection. This year’s football league has been disrupted by the pandemic, but players are hoping to play the last games this Autumn if it can be done safely.

Welcome back to London Transport Museum

By Sam Mullins OBE, Museum Director

I am delighted to announce that at last, after 173 days closed, our Covent Garden doors open to visitors once more on Monday 7 September 2020!

We have moved our opening times back to 11:00 to enable visitors to use the public transport system while it is off-peak and quieter. You might enjoy arriving to the Museum by foot or bike. My favourite London views are up and down-river while crossing Waterloo Bridge from the mainline station, with the City and St. Paul’s Cathedral to one side and the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey on the other. You might try my commute from Temple station through the Inns of Court and the majestic Somerset House or from Embankment through the gardens and up Carting Lane and across the Strand to Covent Garden Piazza.

A sign reading, We've missed you! It's great to have you back!

The coming weeks are a great time to visit; Covent Garden is for once not too busy with crowds, so it’s a rare opportunity to savour the Piazza and a quieter London Transport Museum.

Before you visit us, you will need to book timed tickets in advance, even as a season ticket holder, to allow us to monitor visitor numbers and ensure social distance. We will also make provision for spur of the moment visits, from passing trade too. The Museum has met the We’re Good to Go standard in terms of cleanliness, social distancing and safety – be assured, we are sanitising the building but not your experience. You can see this for yourself in our ‘welcome back’ video.

You will be welcomed by my colleagues and I with open arms (and a visor), and be able to enjoy our displays showing how transport has shaped the capital’s personality. You will see Tube trains, buses, trams and even a sedan chair, admire Edward Johnston’s iconic typeface and the revolutionary map of the city created by  Harry Beck’s Underground diagram. Our immersive Hidden London exhibition, where you can experience disused stations and their rich stories, has been extended; see Churchill’s dining room in the WW2 bunker at Down Street, the bunk beds in Clapham South deep-level shelter recreated in our Global gallery, as well as clips from films featuring lost tunnels and stations.

Through September and October, we are offering late night openings on Thursdays from 18:30 until 21:00. With fun transport-themed quizzes in our Lower Deck café and a complimentary cocktail in hand, you and your friends can share a night at the Museum, enjoying our galleries after dark as our vehicles shine in the display lights.

We are reopening into uncertain times, especially for the former honey pot of the West End. Like the theatres, restaurants, coffee shops, galleries and museums around us, we have made a great success of our location and its high footfall. This has been much diminished. We are awakening the Museum from its slumber and we need the patter of both tiny and bigger feet to put us back on our journey to inspire you with the stories of this great city.

We hope you will enjoy a visit with us soon!