Category Archives: Contemporary Curators

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.

#MyJourneyToPride – Collecting LGBT+ experiences

By Ellie Miles, Documentary Curator

London’s transport brings people together, especially for major events like the Pride weekend, which this year is taking place on 6-7 July. As part of a new collecting project, we are looking for people to document their journeys to Pride in London and UK Black Pride 2019. We are inviting video diarists to record their feelings and thoughts throughout their journeys, and we are also encouraging people to take part in the project by sharing their photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #MyJourneyToPride and by tagging @ltmuseum in the videos, photos and text that you want to share.

Ride with Pride vehicles, 2015

If you’re making your way to Pride or UK Black Pride then let us know what is exciting about your journey. How does the atmosphere change as you get closer to the events? Are you seeing more people heading the same way as you? What does it mean to see more flags and rainbows and banners in London? We want to record the social side of the story that objects don’t convey by themselves.

zebra

Rainbow crossing, 2015 

The stories that you record and that we collect will help enrich some of the material we already have in our collection like banners, posters and the first ever rainbow crossing. A great deal of material we have in the Museum that represents the LGBT+ experience is focused on the stories of members of staff, and we would like to invite passengers, pedestrians and participants to make their lived experience a part of the history of transport in London too. The experiences of non-binary and transgender people are under-represented in the Museum’s collection at the moment and we would particularly welcome material that is more inclusive of all genders.

lgbt rainbow

Ride with Pride poster, 2015

This year it is as important as ever to take to the streets to take a positive stance against violence and discrimination targeted at the LGBT+ community. London Transport Museum will offer space to preserve and record the thoughts, feelings and experiences of people travelling to Pride in London in 2019.

Please consider a few things if you are keen to take part in the project by tagging content for the Museum to see:

  • Crowd shots and groups are fine to film or photograph with verbal consent, but please don’t film or photograph individuals close-up. This especially applies to young people and children
  • Please don’t share and tag footage that might enable people to locate your home
  • Stay safe, please don’t put yourself in danger and only film/photograph when you feel comfortable

Travel safe, have fun and be proud! 🌈

Out and about on London’s transport network

Transport doesn’t just take people from A to B, it allows disparate parts of our city, and of our lives, to link. Our project LGBT+ Linking Lives aims at collecting stories about how transport connects LGBT+ lives and communities across our Capital. 

In this blog Gonzalo de Ana Rodríguez – Transport for London employee and member of OUTbound , TfL’s LGBT+ Staff Network – shares how London transport has shaped his relationships and experiences. 

Gonzalo at his first Pride with TfL in 2015

As a transport planner and TfL employee, London’s transport network is the main theme of my career. But London is also the city where I have forged my identity as a gay man, and its transport system has been the silent witness to that personal journey. The staff network group OUTbound is the vehicle I use to reconcile those two elements of my identity and to reflect on the role that transport plays on people identity journeys.

I have numerous memories of London’s transport in key moments of my (gay) life. The day after I realised I was gay – at age 24 – I got on the Piccadilly line at Turnpike Lane to go to university like any other morning. It had been a surprise, but it did not change who I already was.

It was a bus journey in London that started a deep friendship that is now the most important in my life. My friend and I got on a bus at Regent Street to go to a dance ball. During the journey, I told him about my bittersweet experience of coming out to my family, while he sat and listened attentively. At the time, he had not gone through that himself yet, but months later not only did he tell me that my story had inspired him, but it was also obvious for both of us how important that journey had been for our eternal bond.

Gonzalo and his friend Davide doing a paso doble at the 2016 UK Fun Competition in the Rivoli Ballroom

It was a Tube journey that took me down to Highbury & Islington for my first same-sex ballroom dance class, which completely turned my life upside down. Since then, ballroom dance has become central to my life and my identity.

Another very special and exciting moment was when I came across Olympic diver Tom Daley on an eastbound Jubilee line train at Canada Water station. His mediatic coming out a couple of years earlier had coincided with my own realisation of being gay, and he was very inspirational to me at the time. In fact, I took the opportunity to thank him for that then and there! Funnily enough, a few months ago I saw him again on the Jubilee line.

Gonzalo and Tom Daley

London transport interacts with my queer identity in many more ways. This is the network that takes me to dates and nights out; to LGBT venues; to the parade formation area to join my OUTbound colleagues on the TfL float at every Pride parade.

Beard and makeup: Gonzalo’s way of redefining masculinity at Pride 2018

But the Tube also takes me to work every day, where I can give something back to this network which is so important to my identity and to others. Thanks to OUTbound, I can even do so from a place of authenticity and bring my whole self to work, because TfL strives to make every customer and employee feel safe, and we are encouraged to be authentic on our network and in our offices.

Documentary Curators at London Transport Museum want to hear about the journeys, sites and stories in which transport has played a role in people’s experience in London. You can submit your stories to us by emailing documentarycurator@ltmuseum.co.uk.

Does transport shape our experiences?

Transport doesn’t just take people from A to B, it connects us and allows disparate parts of our city, and of our lives, to link. 

Our project, LGBT+ Linking Lives, aims at collecting stories about how transport connects LGBT+ lives and communities across our Capital. We want to hear about the journeys, sites and stories in which transport has played a role in people’s experience in London.

In this blog Andy De Santis – Vice Chair of OUTbound , TfL’s LGBT+ Staff Network – shares with us how London transport has shaped his relationships and experiences. 

Who doesn’t LOVE TfL designs?!

Even before working in transport, I could already understand its importance to the LGBT+ community. When I arrived in London, I initially met a varied group of friends on LGBT+ websites. We were an odd mix of people, from quiet guys in suits to the leotard-wearing nonchalant extrovert. We’d meet up at different venues every weekend – a welcoming break from our exhausting work life. This was our opportunity to be ourselves, free of shame or judgement as we got inside the Tube laughing and enjoying being together.

I don’t drive but I like to pretend I do!

Do you remember what it was like before the Night Tube? After a night out, everyone would drag themselves along to the bus stop to catch their night bus, like tired zombies in the night – ruined make up, dirty clothes, sometimes the stench accompanying someone who had partied too hard!

But the night bus was a place of freedom. Sexuality, race, gender, nothing mattered. Do you remember the big groups? They’d usually be the loudest ones, screaming as if to tell you they’d had such an awesome time. I also remember when they’d start singing – on a couple of occasions others on the bus would sing with them. This bizarre sing-a-long is perhaps what I miss the most from that time. Although I was a bit shy at the time, just hearing everyone around me singing was mesmerising. People united in song, all declaring how they had a good time.

Me and Judith, a very visible and proud bisexual, showcasing our rainbow lanyard.

Oh, the good times… all the connections, and that’s what transport does, isn’t it? It connects communities and people. I volunteer with a service helping LGBT+ people struggling with addiction and some come from outside the city, as support isn’t available in small towns. I could tell you many stories about me, but I’ll skip the “when I got the bus/train/tram”. Most of my experiences wouldn’t have happened without public transport. Transport connects us to people we care about. Isn’t it funny how we take that for granted?

Write to  documentarycurator@ltmuseum.co.uk if you would like to tell us your story about the role of transport in your LGBT+ life and experiences in London.  Visit our website to learn more about the LGBT+ Linking Lives project.

Where are all the women?

by Ellie Miles, Documentary Curator

In December 2018, we launched the collecting project Where are all the women? and asked the public to contribute their stories about female family members, ancestors or employees who may have worked in the transport industry in London, or across the United Kingdom, from 1800 to the present day. Here follows a little update on how the collecting project is going.

A storekeeper in the fitting shop at the LGOC’s engineering works during WW2

So far, we have been trusted with some remarkable stories which I’d like to share with you. We have heard about women who found that they were the only females working in an area at the time, whether that was twenty or seventy years ago:

“Mum said she worked in the ticket office at Waterloo station during the war. She was the only female employee in the ticket offices.”  – Ann Westfold, describing her mother’s work during the Second World War

“For a while I was the only female train operator on the Bakerloo line.” – Hannah Wood, talking about her job in the 1990s

Canteen workers being trained at Baker Street, 1968

We have a range of dates covered already, from the last of the horse-drawn era in the 1940s to the Jubilee Line Extension in the 1990s:

“Rose worked on horse-drawn vehicles at King’s Cross and St Pancras from the late 1940s until the 1960s… At only four foot nine inches and weighing six and a half stone, Rose’s small stature was quite a contrast to the large heavy horses she worked with.” – Margaret Palmer, describing her mother’s work

“I joined in 1998 when there was a big recruitment drive for the Jubilee Line Extension. Saw the advert for station assistant at Whitechapel station and decided to apply.” – Nicola Dinneen, describing the start of her career

Vic Roberts tells us she was a “driver, manager and then mechanic. I was part of the much unseen fabric that we women create.” She features in images in the Museum’s collection, and donated a set of photographs that she took of her colleagues.

Bus mechanic Vic Roberts cleaning her tools at Putney bus garage in the mid-1990s

There is still time to submit your story, and we would love you to do that so we can share it. Here are some frequently asked questions about the project:

I’m a woman and I work in transport – can I put myself forward?

Of course! We love first-hand accounts of your work and it’s great to hear from the experts.

Do you want stories that aren’t all positive? Sometimes work has been difficult and I’ve faced sexism in the workplace.

Unfortunately, many people face discrimination at work and have experienced unfair treatment, harassment and bullying. If this is part of your story, please include it in your account so we can preserve a full picture.

I’m a trans woman, is my story welcome?

Yes, we would be very pleased to hear from you, and grateful that you have chosen to share your story with London Transport Museum. The experiences of non-binary people and transgender women are under-represented in our collections and we would like to correct this. If you can help, we’d be delighted.

We look forward to hearing from you. Just pop over to Where are all the women? project webpage and fill out the form there!

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

What is Contemporary Collecting?

By Ellie Miles, Documentary Curator

When Southgate station was renamed ‘Gareth Southgate’, when Transport for London‘s staff members took part in Brighton Trans Pride, and when the tube driver Harvey Mitchell stopped his train to pay tribute to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, London Transport Museum’s Documentary Curators were at the ready to follow and record these stories and to bring them into the Museum’s collections.

Gareth Southgate roundel
Gareth Southgate roundel

These news-worthy events are one side of the contemporary collecting work that I do alongside my colleague Susanna Cordner; sometimes we collect the exceptions – things that don’t happen every day – and sometimes we collect things that seem ordinary now but will be hard to get hold of in a few weeks, months or years.

Ellie Miles, Documentary Curator

As well as reacting to unexpected events, there are some projects that we can plan for. Over the next few years we’ll be running a collecting project in places where Crossrail stations are being built, to see how the new line changes the local areas.

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

Working with groups like OUTbound (TfL’s LGBT+ Staff network) means that sometimes we can find and record stories that wouldn’t be shared elsewhere.

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

Our aim is to collect objects and stories that tell us about the times we are living in. 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 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 future fruition.

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

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 to 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 that you would like to share, please send us an email at documentarycurator@ltmuseum.co.uk.

Collecting for 2013 – Caledonian Road station’s whiteboard artist

 

 

 

It’s not every London Underground worker who has a song written and recorded about her, but that’s what has happened to Kim Kalan.

The bubbly customer service assistant at Caledonian Road station, on the Piccadilly line, has been brightening up the ticket hall with her intricate whiteboard drawings  – with an accompanying cheerful message for passengers.

As well as being praised by customers, Kim’s colourful drawings were noticed by local musician Eoin Quiery. He was so impressed he decided a write a song about her, which has been recorded on the latest album made by his acoustic rock band, Burning Wheel.

Called Kimmie Song, it can also be found on YouTube and other social networking sites.

It all began in a small way,” said self-taught artist Kim. “When we used to display notices to the public about delays or other problems, I started to put little drawings on them to brighten them up.”

She then moved on to the whiteboard drawings, working on them in her breaks and often coming in early before her shift begins.

Using white board markers she covers a wide range of subjects, ranging from the Mona Lisa to the World Cup and Armistice Day, always coming up with something special to mark Christmas, Easter and other seasonal occasions.

“I do it purely to make the day better for my customers,” said Kim, who affectionately refers to them as “my lovelies.”

She added: “What’s important to me is the positive effect my drawings and messages have on people; I’m not after any sort of recognition.”

Passengers regularly praise her drawings, including a local professional artist who said he could not do what she does with the white board markers. Other passengers have asked her to draw portraits of them.

Asked what she thought when she found out that Eoin Quiery had written a song about her, she said: “I was very surprised. How often do people get a song written about them?”

Kim, whose mother Sandra works in the station’s ticket office, also writes science fiction in her spare time. Her first fantasy book is complete and Kim is currently waiting for an agent.

My ambition is to become a full-time writer,” she said. “In the meantime I will continue with my ticket hall drawings and am so glad that they have met with such a brilliant response from customers.”

You can check out more of Kims work at www.kimistic.co.uk

Words and photos by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend