Whilst the restoration is on-going at the Festiniog Railway further research is being undertaken into the history of Metropolitan Railway carriage 353. Acquired by London Transport in 1974, several colour images have recently come to light showing the transportation of the carriage from Shrivenham and its subsequent storage at Ruislip depot.
Using a Central Distribution Services (LT) lorry the carriage was collected from Knapps dairy farm (located just off Shrivenham high street, Oxfordshire) in August 1974. It had been kept in the corner of the farmyard for over 34 years, but now required rescuing due to planned redevelopment of the farm site. Although exposed for many years to changing weather conditions, the carriage remained structurally sound and when inspected was found to be in surprisingly good condition for its age.
On arrival at Ruislip depot the carriage was moved undercover and added to London Transports historical relics collection. Various restoration options were explored over the following years including the idea of sectioning one compartment for public display. Thankfully the carriage was preserved intact, and after 37 years in storage is finally being restored to operational use.
On the 1st March we were delighted to welcome students from Central St Martin’s University to our Museum Depot for the day as part of our current Access to Art collaborative course with the University.
Volunteers John Dodd, David Burnell, Tom Cavanagh and Stephen West were on hand to offer a number of in depth tours of our Art and Poster stores. As part of the course our Museum curators have highlighted ten posters in the collection which are to be transformed into short animations; though not all the posters were accessible, volunteers were able to speak about a range of posters/artworks in the collection by the same artists, which really helped the students put their posters into context both with artists other works and the imagery and trends of the period. The outcomes of the project will hopefully be revealed in a few weeks’ time…
‘The Land of Hopeful Commuters’, Agnès Poitevin Navarre’s anecdotal map of London, is progressing nicely. We so far have almost 500 responses – thank you London! Some really beautiful/sad/funny/quirky contributions towards an artwork that will be a very different and insightful addition to the ‘Mind the Map’ exhibition, mapping the hopes and aspirations of London’s commuting public.
We’re still collecting responses so if you haven’t had a chance to contribute yet then it’s not too late. Agnès is looking to get responses from people all over London. At the moment, we’re particularly keen to hear from residents in:
Two supervisors at North Acton station have created an award-winning garden that provides all-year-round colour to the delight of passengers.
The Central Line station’s glorious displays scooped first place in the Cultivated Garden category, as well as coming runner-up in the Best Overall Garden section, in last year’s annual Underground in Bloom contest hosted by TfL.
The man-made flower beds are the work of supervisors Terry Murrell and Bharat Vagani, built with the help from other station staff including contract cleaner Abraham Soubair.
It all began in a small way back in 2005 when Bharat, a veteran of 22 years with London Underground, put up some hanging baskets on the platforms to brighten up the dingy surroundings.
When Terry Murrell, with London Underground for five years, transferred to North Acton from Embankment, Bharat persuaded him to share in his vision of bringing a lot more natural colour to the station forecourt.
Months of hard work followed. Working by hand, they brought in around 15 tons of soil to create the extensive raised beds, which are edged with railway sleepers. All of the work was done in their spare time, including days off and during annual leave.
It was a true labour of love as the station has no vehicle access and all the soil had to be brought down a long slope from the nearby road.
As well as nurturing the flower beds and hanging baskets, Terry and Bharat grow up to 24 different varieties of vegetables in pots.
They receive a small annual ‘gardening’ grant from London Underground but contribute their own money to buy additional plants and garden tools.
Their hard work has not gone unnoticed. As well as winning numerous Underground in Bloom awards the green-fingered duo has received several commendations on the TfL website.
They have also been filmed for The Tube, a six-part documentary on the activities of London Underground staff, being shown on BBC Television.
Passenger response has been extremely positive. “Customers often take photos of the gardens, while one woman recently offered us a job looking after her garden,” said Terry.
“Another elderly lady, who uses the station twice a week, said the flowers reminded her of the displays she saw at suburban stations 40 years ago, and has helped make her feel safer when travelling.”
He added that their efforts have spurred one regular customer to tackle his own small garden, which he had neglected for years.
“It has been very satisfying to plan and create the gardens and to know that our customers appreciate all our efforts,” said Bharat.
“We are doing it for them, so that they feel happy when they come through every day and see splashes of colour, whatever the season.”
Words and photograph by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend
After a lot of planning and organising we hosted our very first event, Spoken Word, on March 3rd. The day was delivered by the two talented artists Dean Atta and Laila Sumpton.
We began with the amazing Clive Birch from the Royal College of Art delivering an introductory presentation. He began with his historical involvement in transport then led us into an insight of the Sense and the City exhibition. Finally he left us on an inspirational note of what transport will look like in the not so distant future.
With our creative juices flowing, we dived into several activities that drew out some amazing poetry and free writing from the participants. This continued into the afternoon where we finally created our group performances.
With the support from the Museum, we had members from the Young Volunteers programme as part of the audience that were also kind enough to give wonderful feedback.
Overall it was inspirational workshop that exposed the talent and creativity of young people in London.
With connections from Dean and Laila with Keats House we were invited to showcase the work we had created as a part of the Young Poets Forum open mic, taking place the following day. A few went along and had the confidence to perform alongside other artists.
We have thoroughly enjoyed the two days and are so grateful for all the participation and help from everyone involved.
Written by Gloria Gaspard and Izara de Nobrega (Young Consultants from LTM)
Mark Kirwin, a supervisor at Finchley Central, has created a colourful, award-winning garden on one of the station’s platforms.
Practically single-handed he has transformed a derelict piece of ground into an oasis of colour that regularly scoops top awards in London Underground’s annual Underground in Bloom competition.
It all began in 2008 when Mark decided to do something to ‘green’ the suburban Northern Line station.
“I decided to tackle a piece of waste ground about the length of one-and-half tube carriages on the southbound platform, as it’s an area that gets the sun most of the day.”
With help from his partner, Ian, who is extremely knowledgeable about plants, the pair first had to prepare the ground. Working in their spare time, they dug out the area, put down a plastic membrane, covered it with shingle, ballast and stones and brought in 300 bags of soil.
“I started with a blank canvas with the intention of creating a country-style flower garden right here in London, which I think we have achieved,” said Mark.
A wide selection of colourful flowers have been planted out, including annuals and perennials so as to give colour all year round, with pots filled with bedding plants in the summer.
“I had a plan for the garden right from the start and have generally followed a colour scheme using shades of orange and purple,” said Mark.
For three years from 2008 the garden came second in the Cultivated Gardens and Tubs category in the Underground in Bloom competition. In 2011 it received the contest’s top accolade by being awarded the Dennis Sanger Chief Operating Officer Special Award, beating off competition from stations across the Underground network.
Mark said: “I was absolutely delighted to receive the top prize after picking up three second prizes in previous years.”
The country-style garden regularly receives praise from passenger, with children appreciating the animals and other small sculptures that are hidden amongst the plants.
“One woman told me that she always comes to the station at least 15 minutes before she needs to get a train, “ said Mark. “This is so she can walk up and down the platform to smell and admire the flowers.”
Mark has put in an irrigation system so that when he is on leave the other station staff just have to turn on a tap to water the plants to prevent them from drying out.
Passengers using Oval station on the Northern line have come to appreciate the ‘Thought for the Day’ quotations put up by station staff in the main concourse.
The innovative project began in 2004 and has been taken up by several other stations on the Underground network.
It’s a team effort, started by station supervisor Anthony Gentles and looked after on a daily basis by station assistant Glen Sutherland.
Anthony Gentles said: “We are here to provide a service to our customers, not just to sell tickets. We like to provide a happy and relaxed environment, which is why we have classical music playing at all times.”
The idea behind ‘Thought for the Day’ was to give passenger’s something inspirational to think about during their journey.
Written on a whiteboard near the ticket office, a typical quotation on display has been: “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory,” penned by American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Glen Sutherland, who has taught himself calligraphy so as provide clear handwriting on the whiteboard, finds many of the quotations from a specialist app on his mobile phone.
He also uses a book of quotations given to him by a passenger, who inscribed it with the message, ‘From a satisfied customer’.
“The quotations we pick are pretty general so that they appeal to all station users, who come from a variety of backgrounds and ethnic groups,” said Anthony.
Glen often chooses something topical, such as on Mother’s Day. When rioting affected the area in August 2011, he put up a quotation from Che Guevara: ‘We must not let these harsh times destroy the warmth in our hearts.’
“Often customers come up to say how much they appreciate the day’s quotation,” said Anthony. “They ask staff who put them up, with the most common comment being that it has made their day. Some passengers even go out of their way to use the station so that they can to see the day’s message. Others have suggested quotations for us to use.”
One regular passenger who works in a local office has set up a discussion group to discuss the day’s quotations during coffee breaks, while a local teacher uses them in her lessons.
“Being close to the Oval cricket ground, when there is a county cricket game on I often pick a classical quotation as many spectators are a highly educated bunch,” said Glen. He added that Surrey and England player Mark Ramprakash always stops to chat about the day’s ‘thought’ when he comes through the station.
Often passengers take photographs of the quotations, while one regular who works in a restaurant notes them down and prints them on the menu.
“I once saw a man studying a quotation intently before disappearing down the escalator,” said Glen. “He came back up 25 minutes later and told me he had been thinking about it all that time and now understood it.”
The staff’s efforts have been featured in several national newspapers and on the BBC. Glen has taken advantage of social networking to set up a Facebook page and the ‘thoughts’ have a growing following on Twitter.
“Customers have said that the quotations really cheer them up. If I miss a day and the board is blank, people ask why?”
Anthony said: “It has been a real team effort on behalf of the staff. We are very proud of what we have done, and knowing that it has encouraged other stations to follow our lead. It has helped us to connect with our customers, who now see station staff more as individuals. It is definitely worthwhile if we can send passengers on their way with a smile on their face.”