All posts by London Transport Museum

Celebrating Britain’s Transport Textile

By Georgia Morley, curator

I have been very fortunate to work as Project Curator on ‘Celebrating Britain’s Transport Textile’ from 2017-2018. This project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has given us the opportunity to look into the use of moquette on the transport system since the 1920s.

Assisted by two Young Freelancers, Elizabeth Clark and Marie Stewart, we have uncovered many fascinating stories behind the design, manufacturing and use of moquette through the ages.

History 

Moquette – which means carpet in French – is a tough woollen fabric that is used in upholstery on public transport all over the world. The fabric is produced using a weaving technique known as jacquard, and is typically made of 85% wool, 15% nylon mix, with a cotton backing. Before the use of moquette on public transport vehicles, seats were either unpadded timber seats and benches or upholstered in rattan, leather, leathercloth, cotton or silk velvets.

Men working in a shop. One is fitting a moquette.
Trimming shop at Acton Works, fitting ‘Chesham’ moquette design by Marion Dorn, 1954

Research and collection

London Transport Museum’s collection holds over 400 samples of moquette from the 1920s to the present day. We conducted in depth research at many different institutions and collections that hold moquette across London and the UK. By meeting some of the specialist project partners we have gained an insight into why this fabric is so iconic to the life and soul of London and its transport system for over 100 years.

black and white image of people on a train.
‘Caledonian’ moquette design by Marion Dorn on proposed Amersham (Metropolitan) line, 1946

During the research we conducted oral histories with key figures, collected new moquette designs and photographs of moquette in use today. We uncovered a new design by the iconic designer Enid Marx and discovered a new designer of moquette from the 1930s.

We worked in partnership with St Mungo’s, a charitable organisation which supports those who are homeless or have experienced homelessness. A ten-week course at ‘St Mungo’s Recovery College’ was run by a freelance educator and artist practitioner celebrating the design and history of moquette.

Three people on a stage, one is holding a mic and speaking.
Speakers at the ‘Celebrating Britain’s Transport Textile’ symposium, 2017

Visitors gained an insight into moquette through a wide range of public events at London Transport Museum and Acton Depot including; Urban Fabric (Friday Late), London Uncovered (Depot Open Weekend), Design Connections: Robert Elms in conversation with Wallace Sewell and Celebrating Britain’s Transport Textile (Symposium). The events brought together the project partners along with a varied audience of practitioners, lecturers, historians, museum professionals, volunteers, students as well as the public.

We are now sharing all our new discoveries with the public on our Collections Online website.

Our Q stock story – Restoring three rare 1930s Underground train cars

Work is underway at our Museum Depot in Acton to restore three Q stock cars into operational condition. In November we launched a  fundraising appeal to raise the £200,000 necessary to complete this ambitious restoration project.

Q stock trains first entered service on the District line eighty years ago in 1938. Unlike modern trains with identical carriages, Q stock trains were formed from a range of cars with very different profiles – passengers never knew what formation would pull into their platform!

Built in 1938, the newer Q stock cars were strikingly modern with sleek flared sides and smooth, curved roofs. These were purpose-built to be compatible with a range of older converted cars, with American design features. Dating as far back as 1923, these older cars were originally designated as either N, M, L, K or G stock. Running together, the different Q stock cars revealed the evolution of train design through the 1920s and 1930s.

One of the older Q stock car dating from 1923 is on display at the Museum, preserved exactly as it was when it came out of service in September 1971.

To tell the many stories of the Q stock trains, which were in passenger service for several decades, we decided to restore each car to a different moment in time, exploring different themes.

One car will illustrate wartime Britain, and the evacuation of school children from London in September 1939 at the start of the Second World War. The second will reflect life during the post-war years of austerity as London was being rebuilt in the 1940s. In stark contrast, the final car will show the growing prosperity of the 1950s, when people travelled for pleasure, taking trips to Theatreland in the West End and out to Kew Gardens and Richmond Park.

We are still a long way from choosing advertising posters for the cars and upholstering seats to reflect the three different decades, but work enabling these choices has already begun. In spring 2018 a group of Young Volunteers collected memories from people who remember travelling on Q stock trains along the District line, and a new group of Research Volunteers is going to join us soon, to take this research further.

Our aim is to restore the three 1930s Q stock cars into an operational heritage train, formed from a 1935 trailer car and two 1938 driving motor cars. 

A dedicated team of volunteers from all walks of life – from retired London Underground engineers, to carpenters, and engineering and history students – is carrying out work at Acton Depot, such as cleaning, repairing and overhauling the electrics, and wiring on one of the 1938 driving motor cars.

What unites these seemingly different people is their passion for London’s transport heritage, their drive to see the train operate again, and their willingness to learn something new.
If you would like to join the Q stock restoration team, please email: opportunities@ltmuseum.co.uk.

Blog by Katariina Mauranen, Project Manager – Vehicle Restoration. Kat works in London Transport Museum’s curatorial department. She joined the Museum in 2014 as curator for the Battle Bus project and has previously worked on the restoration of historic boats.

School Early Explorer Mornings at London Transport Museum

London Transport Museum is always at its quietest before a School’s Early Explorer Morning. There are no visitors yet and all the sounds in the galleries are turned off. Even late in the evening, long after the Museum closes, you can still hear the occasional audio narration echoing from a distant part of the galleries. But just before an Early Explorer Morning, all those sounds are silenced, and with good reason.

Boy on an Elizabeth Line tube driver simulator
Sounds off on the Elizabeth Line simulator in our new Future Engineers gallery

Our School’s Early Explorer Mornings have been running since 2014 and, three times a year, they provide us with an opportunity to welcome students with a broad range of Special Educational Needs (SEN), including Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), physical, emotional and behavioural needs.

For many SEN students high levels of noise, big groups of people and unfamiliar places can be stressful, uncomfortable and unmanageable. This can make many everyday situations difficult to deal with, and a visit to a museum as busy and noisy as the London Transport Museum is practically impossible. By turning off the sounds across the Museum, restricting the number of groups who come and keeping the Museum closed for an extra hour to allow exclusive access for our SEN students, we can combat some potential barriers to visiting.

Our latest School’s Early Explorer Morning took place on Friday 16 November. For some of the children visiting as part of school groups, it was an opportunity that remains a rare one; one visiting teacher told us the highlight of the trip was that for her learners, we were “giving them opportunities that otherwise [they] wouldn’t have – including driving/sitting on trains and buses”.

A pupil pointing in the All Aboard play zone
Learning through play in our All Aboard play zone

As well as offering a quiet introduction to the Museum, we also provided a number of additional flexible and sensory experiences, designed to cater for a range of learning needs and abilities. Explorers were able to explore our All Aboard play zone, meet historic characters, get close to our collection with our object handling team, climb aboard our vehicles and make use of our self-guided sensory explorer bags.

These multi-sensory bags are filled with objects and resources that enable learners to make deeper connections to our collection. They focus on four key vehicles in the Museum galleries and contain a range of objects for learners to interact with, including sounds, smells, images, props and interactive objects. These were developed in consultation with SEN teachers, pupils and sensory story specialist Jo Grace, as part of our commitment to supporting teachers’ needs across our School’s programmes. They are, according to a visiting speech and language specialist, “like having a little bit of school in a bag”, and “the best such bags she had ever seen.”

Children exploring a heritage train in the Museum
Exclusive access to our collection of heritage vehicles

On a School’s Early Explorer Morning, the Museum stays at its quietest for a while after opening. As the school groups drift in one by one though, the noise rises – although not to the same pitch as when the Museum is at its busiest – with the excitement of children having the entire Museum to themselves when they may not have the opportunity to visit such places at all.

On the 16 November, many of the school groups decided to stay in the Museum after the noises were switched back on, and the Museum opened up to the public and visitors started filtering in. Having become comfortable in the Museum environment, many of the students found that they were more relaxed and more able to be themselves in an occasionally chaotic environment.

A pupil on the top deck of a tram in the Museum
Independent exploration during exclusive access to the Museum

As the visiting teacher said: “thank you for the amazing day on Friday. Our pupils loved it so much and had a day they will always remember.”

The Museum aims to ensure all visitors to have an enjoyable and meaningful learning experience. We are committed to making London Transport Museum as accessible as possible for all children, including those with physical and learning difficulties. And happily, on those quiet mornings when we open only for our Early Explorers, we can.

Our next School’s Early Explorer morning is on Friday 29 March 2019.

The Museum’s Family Programme also delivers Early Explorer Mornings for family visitors. The next one coming up is on Saturday 15 December 2018 from 8.30 until 10.00. In 2019 an Early Explorer Morning or Explorer Evening for families will run every school holiday – dates coming soon.

If you would like more information about the School’s and Family’s Early Explorer mornings and other events, please do get in touch with us on learningmailbox@ltmuseum.co.uk.

Young People’s Skills Programme – by Young Freelancer Aksana Khan

London Transport Museum’s Young Freelancers are young people, aged
16 – 25, passionate about creative learning and museums. They work on a project by project basis supporting workshops and activities for different Museum audiences. They receive support and training whilst learning on the job, and also have the opportunity to complete an Arts Award qualification.

In this blog, Young Freelancer Aksana Khan talks about her first big project which involved supporting the Young People’s Skills Programme.

Image of the six young freelancers aboard a vintage bus in the museum.
Aksana (top left) and the other Young Freelancers

The aim of the Young People’s Skills Programme was to help a group of young volunteers to create an activity for the Skills Late 2018 event at the Museum. A Skills Late is a cross between a jobs fair and a museum late event. This year, we had a live DJ, an Apprentice Lounge, and stands from leading employers in the transport and technology industries such as Bombardier, Hitachi Rail Europe, Microsoft, Mott MacDonald, Siemens, telent, and Transport for London.

Employers’ stands at last year’s Skills Late

Our six talented, young volunteers had varied creative interests from animation and drawing, to story-telling and making maps. What united them was the desire to boost their own skills whilst helping other career seekers.

Lead Freelancer Becky Hatchett and I organised a Design Sprint Week for the volunteers, where they explored the Museum’s collection, attended sessions on presentation skills, and built their Arts Award portfolio.

Skanska graduates talking about their route into work

During this week, they met with members of our Learning Team, Skanska graduates, Hazel Grant (Recruitment Manager at TfL), and Seema Kaler (Transport Planner) who all provided valuable insight on different skills building.

The main focus of Design Sprint Week was for the volunteer to identify solutions to common questions young career seekers have, such as: what questions to ask employers; what different types of jobs exist in transport and infrastructure; how to find out about jobs that suit their interests and skills.

The volunteers divided themselves into groups and presented their solutions to our Learning Team in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style – although much more jovial and relaxed!

Inspired by ‘Poster Girls’, the young volunteers designed their own posters based on their dream job in transport and infrastructure

The Learning Team were blown away by what the volunteers had come up with for the Skills Late event: a fun dress-up station where visitors could wear transport sector uniforms, and volunteers could dress up too while helping visitors navigate the employers’ stands throughout the Museum.

A 3D digital map with information portals on different careers, and a WhatsApp interface so that career seekers could ask people more about the jobs they are looking for. This solution inspired a career mapping activity, and a WhatsApp handout filled with questions to ask employers.

A highlight of the Skills Late event was how the young volunteers did a presentation on their activities in front of over 200 people!

London Transport Museum’s Young Volunteers

As a Young Freelancer, I learnt how museums can cater to young people who are eager to kick-start their careers. It was touching to be part of something where young people were listened to and had their views taken to account.

This programme exposed them to gatekeepers of various opportunities; it gave them an opportunity to gain an Arts Award, as well as tangible skills and experience for their own job hunt. It was great to see how the group became increasingly confident as the programme drew on.

Get in touch if you want to join us as a volunteer yourself!

New LGBT+ collecting

By Ellie Miles, Documentary Curator

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.

Trans pride flag above 55 Broadway, 12 November 2018, photo © Andy De Santis

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

Placard with roundel in trans pride colours, reference photo © London Transport Museum

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

LGBT+ Ally lanyard, reference photo © London Transport Museum

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

‘Ride with Pride’ enamel badge, reference photo © London Transport Museum

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.

TfL Ride with Pride Vehicles. New Routemaster bus, black cab and DLR train painted in rainbow colours in support of LGBT staff network, OUTbound. Photographed at Beckton DLR depot. 1 August 2015. Photo: Eleanor Bentall

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.

If you have objects or stories that you think we ought to be preserving, please get in touch and let us know: documentarycurator@ltmuseum.co.uk

Reclaim the station

By Susanna Cordner, Documentary Curator

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.

The battle for the trains! by Geo Davey

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.

Attendees at our previous Late Debate: Environment Matters

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.

Community gardening at Hampstead Heath Overground station

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: documentarycurator@ltmuseum.co.uk.

Battle Bus project 2014-2018

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.

B2737 running on its original route, route 9 from Liverpool Street to Barnes

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.

Battle Bus at Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium

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.

Female driver Tracey driving Battle Bus

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.

Battle Bus in front of the Thiepval Memorial, France

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.

Apprentice Joyce Zale delivering screen printing workshops

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.

Last four remaining B-type buses on Covent Garden Piazza

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.

Forget-Me-Not

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:

Kamiah and Battle Bus underneath the Forget-Me-Not installation

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-remembrance

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.

Poppies

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.

Friday Late: Power, play and politics

On 26 October 2018, see the museum through the eyes of up and coming female artists, performers, and designers.

In our final Friday Late of the Poster Girls series come and celebrate the essence of the exhibition, with a programme of voices representing a diverse range of talent and female empowerment, through lectures, our makers market, tours and workshops.

Laura Wingrove design

Browse 80s styled products from four female artists and designers, including contemporary paper dolls and clothing made from upcycled duvets, and enjoy workshops inspired by their work.

Paper dolls

Run LDN cross stitch

Comedian Katie O’Brien is your cheeky 80s bingo caller with plenty of prizes and surprises up her sleeve. Or take in an illustrated talk on bold and unapologetic 1980s fashion and explore the things women wore while seizing control – in the boardroom, in the bedroom and beyond.

Exist to Resist

Catch the last ever Poster Girls curator tour, and explore the work of Mabel Lucie Atwell, Ruth Hydes, the Zinkeisen sisters and others.

In partnership with Showtime Events, we’ve made sure you can capture the night with their photo booth.

Friday Late: Power, play and politics takes place on 26 October 2018. Book your tickets here.

#AskaCurator

What does a Documentary Curator do?

Gareth Southgate roundel
Gareth Southgate roundel @ London Transport Museum

When Southgate station was renamed ‘Gareth Southgate’, when Transport for London staff members took part in Brighton Trans Pride, and when the tube driver Harvey Mitchell stopped his train to make his tribute to the victims of the Grenfell fire, London Transport Museum was at the ready to follow and record these stories and to bring them to the museum. I’m Ellie Miles, I’m one of the museum’s curators and I have the amazing job title ‘documentary curator’. Susanna and I work as Documentary Curators, and it’s our responsibility to work with the people who experience them to bring current events and everyday life into the museum’s collection.

Ellie Miles, Documentary Curator

These news-worthy events are one side of the contemporary collecting work that we do. Sometimes we collect the exceptions: the things which don’t happen every day. Sometimes we collect the typical: things which seem ordinary now but will be hard to get hold of in a few weeks, months or years. Working with groups like OUTbound (TfL’s LGBT+ Staff network) means that sometimes we can find stories that aren’t shared elsewhere. As well as reacting to unexpected events, there are some things which we can plan for. Over the next few years we’ll be collecting in two local areas with new Crossrail stations, to see how the new line changes them. We always try to collect objects that tell us about the times we are living in.

OUTBound at Brighton Trans pride event, 21st July 2018, photo © Andy De Santis, used with permission
OUTBound at Brighton Trans pride event, 21st July 2018, photo © Andy De Santis, used with permission
Trans pride roundel, in the curators’ offices at London Transport Museum, 20th August 2018, photo © London Transport Museum
Trans pride roundel, in the curators’ offices at London Transport Museum, 20th August 2018, photo © London Transport Museum

This can be difficult because sometimes the ‘real’ object has been destroyed through use and we might only be able to get hold of related material – for instance, the designs or plans for a piece or project. There are some new things that we are still learning to collect: for example, we have a lot of old tickets, but maybe it’s time we collected oyster and contactless journey data.

When we find a suitable object, we propose it for review by the Museum’s Collections Development Group. If the group agree it’ll be a good addition to the collection, is in manageable condition and fits our collecting policy, then the Museum will then preserve it alongside the rest of its objects. Sometimes these things get out on display straight away, but most are kept in the stores, for the future.

Harvey Mitchell, 24th July 2018, photo © London Transport Museum
Harvey Mitchell, 24th July 2018, photo © London Transport Museum

Although we are usually free from discussions about repatriation and the questions that other museums must face about human remains, we still need to think about how we collect responsibly. It’s important that we are inclusive; work respectfully with the people who donate their stories and objects to the museum; and ensure that the acquisitions represent London’s diversity. If we don’t, then we aren’t telling the true story of transport in London at all.

I love working to collect the stories of transport in London today, there is so much so learn and so many fascinating things to discover. We couldn’t do it without everyone taking part and sharing their stories. If you have a contemporary object or story for the Museum send us an email, we’d love to hear it – documentarycurator@ltmuseum.co.uk