Category Archives: Events

Exploring London’s Signs and Symbols

By Stephanie O’Neill-Winbow, Family Learning Officer

It feels like Christmas was just here, but already it’s February half term! If you’re looking for somewhere fun to play and explore during this school holiday, visit the Museum from 15 to 23 February.

We’ve got something very special planned for you:  we are sending you and your family on a mission to explore our galleries and discover the signs and symbols that make London’s transport system the most recognisable in the world. It’s amazing to see how even the littlest of children are able to recognise the roundel as the symbol for the Underground. We’ll be celebrating these visual, familiar and accessible areas of transport through dressing up, role play, object handling, colouring in and problem solving.

In the Transportorium on the ground floor, families will be able to take part in fun games – think party games with a transport twist: you have probably played Simon Says before, but what about the ‘Sign Says’? We’ll also be playing Bingo with symbols instead of numbers. We promise it’ll be quite the laugh! These Transport Games will be running six times a day, every day from 10:45 for about 20 minutes each, so there’s plenty of opportunities for families to join in.

All Aboard play zone

Alongside these special activities, we have our two dedicated All Aboard play zones for children under 7, and our big red buses, trains and a tram that you can climb aboard. Our Customer Service team are friendly, helpful and always ready to share lots of knowledge about the history of London’s transport.  There’s also our Hidden London exhibition, an engaging and exciting glimpse of what goes on underground in London, particularly appealing to older children and adults in your family group.

A child and his mother pretend to use a phone exchange from the 1940s
Hidden London: the Exhibition

As usual for each of our school holidays, we will also run an Explorer Event for families with children with additional needs, on Saturday 22 February from 8:30 to 10:00. During this time, half term activities will be available while all the sounds around the galleries are turned off or turned down, and extra sensory resources are available. If this sounds like the right event for your family to visit the Museum, do make sure to book your place here.

February half term is a busy and energetic time for the Museum – every year we are so lucky that lots of lovely families choose to pay us a visit. This time around, we’re hoping to welcome even more of you!

Museum Late: Night on the tiles

Our Museum Late: Night on the tiles is all about the history of London’s rich nightlife from Victorian music halls and night clubs, to subcultures which have influenced London and the world. Guests can party like the Victorians with Lee Jackson of Victorian London, explore LGBTQI nightlife spaces with Ben Walters of Not Television, and get crafty at workshops with artist Nick Murray and creative producer Christina Tubb.

The Museum of Youth Culture will also be joining us to talk about their latest collecting project, Grown Up In Britain. The museum is a non-profit collection of over 100,000 photographs, ephemera and objects celebrating 100 years of being young in the UK.

Lisa Der Weduwe, Cultural Projects Assistant at the Museum of Youth Culture said:

Everyone has stories about being young and their experiences growing up, from first loves to school days, and the events that shaped who we are today. The Museum of Youth Culture is working to pull together all these incredible stories and build a picture of what it was like growing up in Britain over the last 100 years. 

Launched in November 2019, Grown Up In Britain is a crowd-sourced project that asks a simple question – show us your youth. Whether you have one photograph, some flyers from your favourite gigs or an amazing story to tell, we want you to be part of the Museum of Youth Culture. 

You can submit your photographs and ephemera here.

A carousel of black and white pictures of young people through different eras
A small selection of photographs from the Museum of Youth Culture’s collection.

The Museum of Youth Culture team and our Documentary Curators will be welcoming you at our Museum Late and be on hand to show you some of the items in the Museum of Youth Culture’s collection, and to collect your stories of going out in London and travelling on the night bus or night Tube.

We invite you to bring an item or photo that reminds you of a special night out to show and tell, and celebrate our history together.

Visit our website to see the programme highlights and to book your tickets to our Museum Late: Night on the tiles on 28 February 2020

Love your line – Museum Depot Open Weekend

By  Georgina Dobson, Public Programmes Manager

It’s all hands on deck as we gear up for our Museum Depot Open Weekend – Love Your Line on 27 and 28 April.

We are very proud of our Museum Depot in Acton, a huge building spanning over 6000m2 which serves many purposes. It houses 98% of our collection, sees groups of volunteers working on vehicle restoration projects, and it’s where our curators keep our heritage bus fleet operational, manage collection acquisitions and maintenance, and oversee the movement of trains for heritage vehicle outings.

Three times a year we throw the Depot’s doors open and invite visitors of all ages to come in and explore what we like to call our treasure trove. Our Open Weekends are best described as mini-festivals, offering a huge variety of fun and interactive activities, and opportunities for London lovers, transport enthusiasts and design geeks to spend an enjoyable, informative day out and have a good ‘nose around’ the 300,000+ objects in our collection.

April’s Open Weekend it’s all about tube lines, specifically the Victoria, Jubilee, District and Overground lines. What’s there to know about a tube line? Well as it turns out, quite a lot! Three of these lines are celebrating (rather important) birthdays: the Victoria line its 50th, the Jubilee its 40th, and last but not  least, the star of the show – the District line, who turns 150 this year!

You might ask how the Overground made the cut, being the youngest by far, and not technically a tube line. As with many things in London, as soon as you delve a little deeper you find there’s a rich history to discover. For instance, the Thames Tunnel built by Sir Marc Brunel is the first ever tunnel successfully constructed under a navigable river. The Overground running through it it’s a vital connection between north and south London. The tunnel celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2019, and guest speaker Robert Hulse, Director of the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe, will be on hand to tell us more about this remarkable tunnelling project.

Ask people what’s their favourite line and they will not only give you an answer, but also a catalogue of reasons and often, quite movingly, the memories that lie behind them. The same goes for those who have spent their lives working on the lines. We are delighted to be welcoming some of these people to speak at our Open Weekend.

There are also many stories to be told from the periphery of the lines, in themselves places of opportunity. Mathew Frith from the London Wildlife Trust will talk about the animals and flora that thrive on seemingly inhospitable urban linesides; Agamemnon Otero of Energy Garden will speak of the communities who create flourishing gardens around Overground stations.

It’s not all talks however.  Colour psychology specialist Karen Haller will make you look at the tube map in a different way with association games, and Geoff Marshall will host a live World Cup of Tube Lines competition.

For those looking for a more hands on exploration of the lines, there are creative activities for our younger visitors in the Family Zone – with special mini tours of the Depot, badge making, dressing up, and soft play. Not to mention the chance to ride on a heritage bus or feel like a giant on our special miniature railway.

Visit our website to see the full programme and book your tickets, and see you soon at our Museum Depot!

Bus Fare: Stories of the London Bus

London buses are one of the city’s most recognisable icons. As well as a vital component of the Capital’s infrastructure, they are equally embedded into its culture. They have been written about, sung about, joked about, filmed, painted (and painted on), and celebrated in myriad ways.

In the book Bus Fare – Collected Writings on the London Bus, social historians Travis Elborough and Joe Kerr have curated a collection of newspaper reports, technical and transport journals, guide books, diaries, letters, poems, novels and non-fiction pieces, combined with freshly commissioned articles and interviews with leading Londoners of today. This anthology aims to capture the unique relationship Londoners have with their most important mode of transport – the bus!

On 21 March 2019, Travis and Joe will discuss the book at the talk Bus Fare: Stories of the London Bus.  Here is an excerpt from the introduction to whet your appetite.

‘Garden seat’ type horse bus (ca. 1881), London Transport Museum’s collection

To the best of our knowledge, there has never been a comparable attempt to draw together the diversity of writing on the London omnibus between the covers of a single book. This is not altogether surprising, as buses have been justly described as the Cinderella service of London’s various transport systems; despite carrying nearly twice as many passengers as the Underground, the bus network features far less prominently in public consciousness. Buses are just there, carrying their 2 billion passengers a year, generating little attention or fuss.

The surprising revelation of this project, however, has been the realisation of quite how many writers, including those with considerable literary reputations, have been drawn to write about the humble bus. Who would have thought an anthology that embraces such exalted figures as Dickens, Woolf, Morton, Hardy, Kipling, Bennett, Self and Sinclair could possibly be directed at such a workaday subject? Indeed, these writers display such an expert knowledge of buses and their operation that they sometimes even play a significant role in narrative and plot, rather than merely featuring as background colour.

B340 B-type motor bus (1911), London Transport Museum’s collection.

What is equally revealing about collecting together this material is how richly and vividly it portrays the daily experiences and discomforts of bus passengers and bus crew alike, creating a seamless unity of experience across nearly two centuries of London life. For although buses have undergone so much change over their long history – from horse drawn to motorised; from open to roofed top decks and staircases; and from private operation through public ownership and back to private again – nonetheless to read these accounts is to be constantly surprised and delighted at how recognisable and familiar so many of the details are of a journey on a Victorian omnibus compared to today’s version of the same.

It is also delightful to learn that the personal knowledge of bus routes and destinations and times that Dickens and Woolf and Bennett possessed a century and more ago were just as precious and hard-won an acquisition for the dedicated Londoner as they are for contemporary metropolitans.

RT-type AEC double deck bus (1954), London Transport Museum’s collection

Join Travis Elborough and Joe Kerr at the talk Bus Fare: Stories of  the London Bus, on Thursday 21 March 2019. There will also be readings by special guests John Grindrod, author of ‘Concretopia’; Patrice Lawrence, award-winning YA novelist, and novelist Rowena Macdonald. And we will be screening Joe Bloom’s short film ‘Ahmed Serhani, A Portrait: London’s Friendliest bus driver’.

Bus Fare, published by the AA, is available to buy in our shop. Travis and Joe will be signing copies of the book after the talk.

The event is part of the series In Their Own Words, celebrating our latest exhibition, Poster Prize for Illustration 2019: London Stories.

Picking up speed in 2019

by Sam Mullins OBE, London Transport Museum’s Director

With Santa’s hideaway and all our Christmas decorations packed away for another year – not to mention all those festive jumpers – our thoughts at London Transport Museum turn to a packed programme in the year ahead.

London Stories by artist Julia Allum

With our Poster Girls exhibition now closed, the Exterion Gallery will stage The Poster Prize for Illustration: London Stories, brought to you in partnership with The Association of Illustrators. Opening on 8 February 2019, London Stories will bring together 100 remarkable and personal illustrations, each capturing a different story inspired by life in, and love of, London. Uncover some of London’s more unusual historic tales, learn about voyages of travel and romance, and unearth the secret signs that can be discovered across this great city. On the opening day of the exhibition, we will also be hosting one of our popular Friday Lates where we keep the doors open until 10pm. With music, bars, hot food, talks, quizzes, and craft activities, a Friday Late is a great way to discover the Museum as well as get an early preview of our newest exhibition.

Hidden London – Clapham South deep-level shelter

Following on from London Stories, our next major exhibition, Hidden London, opens in October 2019. We will open up the hidden world of disused stations in a series of immersive experiences based on film, sounds, photos and objects. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fabulous illustrated book containing new photography and fresh research into the ghost stations and tunnels of Hidden London. This exhibition will complement our already popular Hidden London tour programme which we will continue to enhance and expand.

family Open Weekend at Acton Depot, July 2018

We will open our Depot at Acton three times this year in April, July and September, allowing you to go behind the scenes at the Museum’s ‘Aladdin’s Cave’. The London Transport Miniature Railway will once more be in action, take a ride on a historic bus, children can enjoy various craft and play activities as well as short talks and tours. Each weekend is themed, with our first weekend in April called ‘Love Your Line’ celebrating the District, Victoria, Jubilee and Overground lines. Staying with Acton, the restoration of three 1920/30s ‘Q’ stock cars is well under way, while the 1914 charabanc is being prepared for an active year.

As always, I would like to extend my thanks to all the staff and volunteers whose never ending passion and drive help us to deliver such an extraordinary programme of events and experiences at the Museum in Covent Garden and beyond. We look forward to you joining us for some, or all, of these fantastic events in 2019.

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.

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.