Category Archives: Contemporary Curating

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.

Contemporary Collecting: An Ethical Toolkit for Museum Practitioners

By Ellie Miles, Documentary Curator

Keeping records of the times we are living through is part of the work of many museums. Collecting the here and now brings up all sorts of questions. It is a complicated process working out what stories, objects and experiences can or should be added to museum collections. There are lots of ways to decide and lots of decisions that need to be made.

Over the last year, we’ve been finding advice for how to approach this work from a group of museum workers. We began discussing some of the challenges during a workshop for the Contemporary Collecting Group at London Transport Museum in spring 2019. Then we carried out an online survey for further discussion. In summer the contemporary collecting toolkit was published by Museums Development North West, and we began producing a document which could sit alongside the 2019 toolkit and shed light on some of the complex ethical issues that come up.

We found five important themes:

  1. Balance, both sides and hate
  2. Decolonisation
  3. Climate emergency
  4. Trauma and distress
  5. Digital preservation

We knew we needed a strong set of contributors to share their experience and started contacting people we’d like to hear from on the range of subjects the workshop and consultation had identified. Working together, we’ve produced a toolkit for ethical contemporary collecting which is ready and live now. It has contributions and case studies from some fantastic and fascinating projects – including museums collecting Snapchat content and Extinction Rebellion protests, as well as museum workers collecting around subjects like homelessness and responses to terrorist attacks.

You can find downloadable versions of the toolkit on our website.

The idea is that this version of the toolkit will continue the conversation. We’d like museum workers, researchers, collaborators and students to use this toolkit and also let us know what they’d like to see in a future edition. Do you think you will find it useful? What advice, topic or case studies stand out to you? What would you like to have further information on? Who else do you want to hear from? What other topics, within the overarching subject of the ethics of contemporary collecting, would you like to address in the future?

We are keen to encourage the use of the toolkit to prompt discussion, collaboration and support across the sector, and hope that, as practice and dialogue on the topics included evolve, that the toolkit can evolve, too.

If you would like to arrange a meet-up or connect to a reading group meet-up, then please send an invitation or email to the Contemporary Collecting Group mailing list.