Category Archives: Communities

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.

Tube Station Artist’s First Show Held At Busworks

Last year Caledonian Road station customer services assistant Kim Kalan brightened up the ticket hall at the station with her intricate whiteboard drawings, often with accompanying messages and thoughtful poems. Now the self-taught artist, who has switched from using marker pens to acrylics, is staging her very first solo exhibition.

Station artist Kim Kalan at the opening night of her exhibition at the Busworks
Station artist Kim Kalan at the opening night of her exhibition at the Busworks

It’s being held around the corner from the Piccadilly Line station at the aptly named Busworks complex, the former premises of the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) which has been converted into flexible offices, studios and workshops. As well as inviting fellow station staff – including her mother Sandra, who works in the ticket office – several of her regular customers, with whom she is extremely popular, were asked along to the preview night.

With Kim are fellow Caledonian Road station staff members Terry Rollo (left), also a customer services assistant, and her mother Sandra Lynch
With Kim are fellow Caledonian Road station staff members Terry Rollo (left), also a customer services assistant, and her mother Sandra Lynch

Called ‘Kimistic Origins – The Caledonian Road Station Artist Revealed’, the show features Kim’s very colourful and highly imaginative acrylic paintings.

Kim is also continuing to produce regular whiteboard drawings at the station to, as she says they “make the day better for my customers.”

The show runs until the end of October at The Busworks, 39 North Road, London N7 9DP and is open on weekdays from 9.30am until 5.30pm. Kim’s work can also be seen on www.kimistic.co.uk

Written by Stephen Barry, Volunteer

Station Staff Make Wood Green Open Day A Success

To add to the many special events taking place this year to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, staff at Wood Green station on the Piccadilly Line organised a highly successful Open Day on Saturday, August 31.

The Open Day, the first to be held at the north London station, proved extremely popular with visitors of all ages who were taken by staff on an hourly guided tour covering both the outside and inside of the building.

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Designed by Charles Holden, Wood Green station was opened on September 19, 1932 as part of the first section of the Cockfosters extension from Finsbury Park to Arnos Grove. It is now a Grade II listed building.

After learning about the design features of the exterior facade and the spacious booking hall, visitors went down to the platforms and then into restricted areas not normally open to the public. These included a narrow maintenance tunnel which runs between the Eastbound and Westbound platforms and the machine room housing the vital escalator mechanisms.

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At the end of the tour visitors were treated to coffee and biscuits in an upstairs rest room, where staff had displayed old photographs showing the construction and development of the station. They were also given an illustrated book on the history of the Piccadilly Line extension.

The success of the Open Day was due to all the enthusiasm and hard work shown by the station staff team consisting of supervisor Ombretta Riu-Tubl and customer services assistants Nigel Buckmire and Jane Bennett. They were assisted by Steve Dagsland, supervisor at nearby Manor House station which held its Open Day – believed to be the first on the Underground network – earlier in the year.

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“We decided to hold the Open Day because we wanted to show off all parts of this historic station to our many customers who regularly use it,” said Ombretta. “The staff were very keen on the idea and on the day Nigel turned out to be a first class tour guide despite his initial nervousness.”

Following the popularity of the Wood Green and Manor House Open Days similar events may now be held at other stations along the Piccadilly Line.

Written by Stephen Barry, Volunteer

National Autistic Society Project – Carriage 353: Volunteer Perspective

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Volunteers are integral to everything we do here at the Museum.  Gabby Brent is just one of many people who give up their time to assist in the running of the Museum. He is also a member of the National Autistic Society and he, along with five other members of the Society, was given the opportunity to take part in one of a number of community learning projects the Museum is undertaking to celebrate both the restoration of Metropolitan ‘Jubilee’ Carriage 353 and the Underground’s 150th anniversary.

Gabby kindly agreed to speak to me about his experience of this particular project. More information can be found here but as a brief overview Gabby and the other participants took part in a two and a half day creative learning project exploring the restored Victorian Carriage 353, and related subjects and themes, through the use of drawing, applique and embroidery techniques.  By the end, each participant ended up with a beautiful felt depiction of Carriage 353.

Participants drew up plans based on a particular theme relating to 353, and choose particular materials for their artwork. Having done all that, they had to cut and stick materials to produce their panel. Gabby’s theme was the comparison between old and new, and he produced a wonderful piece of work contrasting Carriage 353 and the new S-Stock now running on the Metropolitan Line. Gabby was understandably very proud of what he had produced.

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Asked for his favourite thing about the project, Gabby noted that he particularly liked drawing both old and new versions of Metropolitan Line trains. He enjoyed putting the drawings side by side to evaluate the ways transport has progressed over the last 150 years. He also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the history of the Underground, thanks to a Museum tour given by our Visitor Services Manager Michael Dipre and generally exploring around the galleries. There was also a fascinating video showing the history of Carriage 353, from a first class carriage working on the Metropolitan Railway prior to 1900, through to its use as a garden shed, and finally its restoration.

Gabby enjoyed the format of the project, having to work in teams to discuss the history of London Underground, and also debating its future. The group atmosphere was really friendly, with everyone getting on well together. A highlight was the chance to dress up in old London Transport uniforms. It was great fun, and Gabby personally learnt that the style of the hats that people wore many years ago is still the style used today!

Unlike the other participants, Gabby also volunteers at London Transport Museum. He helps with school trip bookings and craft projects, such as creating station models for London Underground. He has volunteered since 2011 but has visited since the 1990s. Museums are a great passion of his and we are very lucky to have his help here.

When asked for his general thoughts on the project, Gabby made it clear that he had really enjoyed himself. He got on well with his fellow participants, loved learning about the Underground and Carriage 353, enjoyed the dressing up, and was proud of his felt artwork. A pretty good couple of days, I’d say!

Written by William Cooper, Marketing & Development Intern

 

National Autistic Society Project – Carriage 353 Community Project

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As part of the Carriage 353 restoration and learning project, a diverse range of community activities have been taking place over the past few months. In August, the National Autistic Society (NAS) took the chance to get involved in the celebrations. Six members of the society participated in a two and a half day creative project exploring the restored Victorian Metropolitan Railway Carriage 353, and related subjects and themes, through the use of drawing, applique and embroidery techniques. London Transport Museum (LTM) was the setting for the event which was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days for all involved.

The fun began with the screening of a fascinating film outlining the life of Carriage 353, from its use in the late nineteenth century on the Metropolitan Line, to its life as a garden shed, and finally to its recent restoration. It was then time to explore some of the themes of Victorian travel and the history of the Capital through consideration of some the Museum’s objects. For example, participants had the opportunity to get dressed up in old uniforms which helped bring our transport forebears, and their work, to life.

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Up next was an engaging tour by our Visitor Services Manager Michael Dipre. Everyone got a real feel for Victorian travel by sitting in former Metropolitan Railway carriages, an important reference point for the creative activities to be undertaken later in the day.

These activities centred on the creation of a fabric artwork depicting Carriage 353. Each participant chose a particular area of interest with regard to Carriage 353 on which to base their artwork, and created a detailed drawing, with a view to turning them into fabric pieces. Different fabrics and their textures were examined, with participants picking out suitable materials. Using fabric pens they then created an outline, before cutting out the pieces to collage together and create a fabric interpretation of their chosen theme. These then needed to be sewn together onto a calico panel.

Although everyone had some experience of sewing, a quick refresher was provided and soon they began appliqueing their fabric panels. Certainly a challenging task, the group showed impressive skills to embroider their panels.

The fabric panels display different aspects of Carriage 353 – its interior and exterior, and the contrast between the old carriages and new ones. These will be put together horizontally in a train-like fashion, with each panel resembling a carriage and will be exhibited in a touring exhibition, ending at LTM early next year.

It was certainly a thought-provoking activity and different participants had varying highlights. For Oke it was the drawing, whereas for James it was learning about the history of the carriage. For Gabby, it was the contrast between old and new that fascinated him the most.

The whole group took a great deal of care in their work, and worked extremely hard. They were rightly proud of what they had produced, and took time to admire the work of their peers. For some, the project showed them that they possessed some impressive creative skills they never believed they had!

Overall, everyone had a great time and enjoyed the chance to meet new people and get creative. The group made it clear that they can’t wait to come back together in the autumn for a tour of the Metropolitan Railway Carriage 353, when it will have returned to the LTM depot in Acton from its most recent adventures. Proud of their fabric artworks, they are also keen to bring their friends, family and colleagues to see their final pieces being exhibited both locally to the NAS, in the autumn of 2013, and at the London Transport Museum in early 2014.

Written by William Cooper, Marketing & Development Intern

Project 353 Community Learning Programme – An Exciting New Way of Working

In response to feedback from community organisations, Project 353 has introduced a new way of working with our Community Learning Partners – the two day model.

This model allows more flexibility for Community Partners and Participants, fitting in with the activities or groups they already support without putting pressure on their capacity. As with our longer term learning opportunities, all of the projects are inspired by the history & restoration of Metropolitan Railway Jubilee carriage No. 353 and our volunteers will create craft or artistic pieces related to it. The volunteers also have the opportunity to undertake a relevant piece of accredited learning through the National Open College Network or Arts Award.

These projects will be mainly focussed on communities in west London who are under-represented in museums and heritage. Their projects will take place over the summer and will include activities such as story-telling and collecting, mural making and digital arts.

Once all of the two-day projects are complete, the pieces will be curated into a joint community exhibition celebrating their achievements and will tour each of their local areas – so watch this space for further details of both the projects as they begin and to see the work exhibited!

Project 353 Artwork being created by young learners
Project 353 Artwork being created by young learners

Project 353 Community Learning Programme – Accredited Learning

A key objective of Project 353’s Community Learning Programme is the opportunity for group participants to work towards a piece of accredited learning, documenting what they have achieved through their involvement with a 353 community project.

We have supported our volunteers to work towards one of three types of accreditation: The National Open College Network (NOCN) Certificate in Accessing Travel & Transport, The National Open College Network (NOCN) Certificate in Discovering Local History or the Arts Award at Bronze Level.

NOCN Travel & Transport Portfolio

The NOCN Certificate in Accessing Travel & Transport supports learners to understand more about the transport network, to feel confident in route and journey planning and to understand how to travel safely both within Transport for London’s modes and beyond

The NOCN Certificate in Discovering Local History supports learners to discover how local or national events in history – such as the opening of the London Underground 150 years ago – impacted the communities in their local area and to share this knowledge with others.

The Arts Award at Bronze Level is for learners aged 16-25 and supports them to develop a creative skill, share this skill with others and develop confidence in responding to artistic or cultural exhibitions and communicating about cultural, heritage or artistic pieces.

Project 353’s mix of artistic, cultural and historical learning means learners can choose as a group which option to take and the project is moulded to suit their aspirations.

While some learners choose not to undertake accreditation, those that do have found it helps them to articulate what they have achieved to those around them such as teachers, social workers or future employers.

On top of this, learners have expressed a real sense of pride, confidence and ownership in the programme by having their involvement formally recognised.

A Happy Museum? Of Course!

Museums are not just about their contents, important though the exhibits are. It’s increasingly recognised that museums have an important part to play in the well-being of people generally, and not just that of their normal visitors. London Transport Museum keenly supports this view and is working to develop its services in less conventional ways. Indeed its very successful volunteer programme is an excellent example of an activity that benefits both the museum and the individual.

Hence the “Happy Museum”: a programme that has been developed with a number of other museums (such as the Godalming Museum and the Story Museum, Oxford) to explore the opportunity for increased sustainability through wider and deeper engagement with all potential audiences. Funding for the “Happy Museum” has been provided by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England, amongst others. One result of LTM’s engagement with the “Happy Museum” has been a project with St. Mungo’s, the homelessness charity, aiming to help excluded people engage positively with society.

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A number of potential volunteers for the project were identified by St. Mungo’s, and they met with LTM staff at an Open Day in late 2012. As a result a group of St Mungo’s clients have been engaged in voluntary work at the museum, working closely with the curators. I met Chris Daniels at the Acton Depot one day recently, where he was busy cleaning a train of 1938 tube stock inside and out in preparation for the Acton Open Weekend. Chris also volunteers with St Mungo’s itself, and has been busy gardening; he confided in me that he was very glad to be working indoors on this particular (very cold) day. So was I!

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Chris told me that he had enjoyed his 3 months volunteering with LTM, and had been involved in bus cleaning as well for the open weekend.  Although his working life had been in the water industry, he has always liked transport. In his own words, “I’ve enjoyed working here as volunteering people are family. It helps my state of mind, and it’s nice to meet other people.” A sentiment that I think many volunteers would echo.

Dave Olney, Volunteer

Project 353 Learning – Helen’s Story

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Helen C has lived in Bromley since a very young age, and became involved in London Transport Museum’s Project 353 through a partnership with housing association, Affinity Sutton. The project used the story of the restoration of Metropolitan Jubilee Carriage 353 as inspiration for a creative digital project supporting both digital inclusion and employment skills.

A single mum, Helen is interested in getting back into work now that her children are growing older. As the daughter of a transport enthusiast and someone very interested in history, Helen saw Project 353 as an ideal opportunity to learn more about the museum, improve her skills and to meet new people.

Helen, together with her group, had a tour from museum staff of both the  Covent Garden museum site and the museum depot at Acton, where they learnt all about the history and restoration of the carriage. Back in Bromley, the group were then asked to imagine themselves being given the task of marketing the Underground when it first started, and Helen was involved in producing the presentation and posters that resulted.

Through this contribution Helen was able to develop her computer skills, especially using PowerPoint. She had never used it before getting involved in the project, but became something of an expert in it through producing the content that the group used to develop their thoughts. Posters were a major part of this. Helen also used it to deliver a presentation to the group, for which she received very positive feedback. Helen was proud to exhibit her work to friends, guests and staff from both Affinity Sutton and London Transport Museum, showing off all she had learnt and achieved!

Helen particularly enjoyed the opportunity to visit the two museum sites, and in her own words, the Acton Depot was a “huge find”. She can’t wait to take her father to see it at the next open day, and her eight year-old son, Ben, is hugely jealous that he hasn’t been able to see it yet. However, there is no doubt in Helen’s mind that the icing on the cake was an opportunity to take a ride on Carriage 353 on the 13th January when it was hauled by Metropolitan Railway locomotive number 1 as part of the Underground 150 celebrations. She didn’t take her passenger wristband off for weeks afterwards! Helen loved the whole air of celebration, and was delighted to be part of an event that gave so much enjoyment to so many people.

What of the future? Helen told me that the 353 project “got her going” and “inspired her to get into new things”.  She would dearly like to be a Classroom Assistant, and has now applied for a local vacancy. The skills and approach that she learnt have reinvigorated her self-confidence. What would Helen say to others in a similar situation to herself, considering involvement in a similar project? “It’s a very positive thing to do if you want to grow your confidence, learn, have some new experiences and meet new people from different backgrounds. We weren’t thrown in at the deep end, everything was taken gradually, and it wasn’t in the least bit overwhelming.” She also commented on how supportive the museum staff were.

Probably the last word should also go to Helen: “It gave me a good kick up the bum!”

Designing for the future – 2063

London Transport Museum is running an extremely diverse range of activities in celebration of the Underground’s 150th anniversary. As part of the celebrations, and to complement our upcoming temporary exhibition Poster Art 150 , we recently ran a poster competition in collaboration with the Royal College of Art.

London Underground has a long and very rich history of poster commissioning. For the RCA poster design competition we invited postgraduate vehicle design and visual communications students to reflect on 150 years of Underground promotion whilst also imagining the future of London’s subterranean system. The resulting posters anticipate the Underground’s services and destinations during the 200th anniversary in 2063.

We had some fantastic and incredibly imaginative entries, including promotion of a service that drops you directly to your door, and a transport system where spherical pods carry passengers through an underwater Underground.

Poster designs from the twenty finalists, including the 3 winning entries, are now on display at the Museum. Come take a look!