Category Archives: Events

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.

Mabel Lucie Attwell

Mabel Lucie Attwell (1879-1964)

Children’s book illustrator and publishing phenomenon

Mabel Lucie Attwell was one of the most successful female illustrators of the twentieth century, whose trademark chubby toddlers remain as popular now as they were 100 years ago. Although not well known as a poster artist, the success of her children’s books, postcards and (later) annuals, made her an obvious choice for London Underground’s emerging publicity campaign. Her immediately familiar style struck a reassuring note with passengers and, by implication, suggested that the new Tube railway was a safe and reliable system.

Country fairCountry fair, 1912

Trained at Heatherlys and Saint Martin’s School of Art, Attwell’s first commission for the Underground came in 1912. More followed in 1913, and it seems likely that she continued to work for the Underground after the First World War. A Pathe newsreel from about 1920, for example, shows Attwell sketching a new Tube poster, Christmas in Fairyland, in her garden using her three children as models. Sadly, no copy has survived in the London Transport Museum collection, although one exists in the Pushkin State Museum (Moscow). By this time Attwell was a best-selling publishing phenomenon. Her already extensive range of books and cards was expanded to include nursery ceramics, textiles, calendars, dolls and figurines – all eagerly collected today. But it was her immensely popular illustrations for children’s classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and the fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm that bought her a devoted worldwide following.

Attwell continued to work into old age, assisted by her daughter Peggy who took on the management of Attwell’s estate after her mother’s death.

Examples of Attwell’s rarely seen Underground posters are included in London Transport Museum’s current Poster Girls show, together with vintage film footage of the artist at work. Behind the scenes tours of the main poster collection are available to book online.

In keeping with the theme of Attwell’s delightful posters, the next Acton Depot Open weekend (7/8 July) features a variety of special family events to entertain the little ones in your life www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/museum-depot/open-weekends 

We're off to the pantomime

David Bownes is co-curator of Poster Girls and director of Twentieth Century Posters (www.twentiethcenturyposters.com)

70th Anniversary of the SS Empire Windrush

22 June 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the SS Empire Windrush ship arriving in Britain from the Caribbean. Around 236 migrants from the merchant vessel were housed in the labyrinth of underground passages at Clapham South when they first arrived from the former British colonies. In the lead-up to this anniversary, Siddy Holloway, Hidden London Engagement Manager, gives a first-hand account of welcoming a very special guest back to Clapham South deep-level shelter for the first time in 70 years.

The 29 May was an exciting day for the Museum’s Hidden London Team. In partnership with the Windrush Foundation, we welcomed a former resident of Clapham South deep-level shelter, 70 years after his last overnight stay. Mr John Richards was born in Jamaica in 1925 and moved to England in 1948 to seek pastures new. He was a passenger on the Empire Windrush, the famous merchant vessel ship that offered affordable passage to citizens from Commonwealth countries in the West Indies. John, like all the passengers, paid £28 for his passage to come over to Britain to seek employment and help rebuild the country after the war.

John-Richards-by-bunk-beds
© London Transport Museum

When the ship docked at Tilbury on 22 June 1948, around 240 of the passengers had no pre-arranged accommodation. They were all offered lodging by the government in the deep-level shelter at Clapham South until they found employment and housing.

When we began researching for our tours of Clapham South deep-level shelter in 2015, we realised there were very few first-hand accounts from people who stayed in the shelter and what they thought of their peculiar accommodation. We wanted to rectify this and began our search to find someone who had stayed in the shelter having arrived on Windrush.

John-Richards-and-Chris-Nix© London Transport Museum

In April this year we partnered with the Windrush Foundation and they put us in touch with John; needless to say we were over the moon. John is now 92 years old, so a date was arranged for his visit which happened to be very close to the 70-year anniversary of his arrival in the UK. We met him and Arthur Torrington, the president of the Windrush Foundation, on a rainy day in South London and escorted them to the shelter. John, dressed immaculately in a grey suit, was excited to see what had changed and said that he hoped he would be able to remember as much as possible.

John-and-Arthur© London Transport Museum

Once down in the shelter which lies 40 metres below street level, John’s memories started flooding back to him. He told us about his work during the war, his decision to come over to Britain and his three week stay in the shelter. As we settled into hearing about John’s story, the deep rumble of the Northern line passed over our heads. John stopped for a moment, smiled and pointed to the ceiling “that sound used to wake us up every morning”.

We can’t wait to share more of John’s story during our public tours of Clapham South deep-level shelter which will start this year on 11 August 2018. For tickets please visit www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/hidden-london/clapham-south

Siddy Holloway
Hidden London Engagement Manager

Exploring London Transport Museum

Exploring London Transport Museum with engineer Emma Watkins

By Carrie Long, LTM Volunteer

Emma Watkins, site engineer at Skanska, visited London Transport Museum to tell us more about her work, her experience as a young female engineer, and how she is helping to shape and build a sustainable London.

At the last London Transport Museum debate: Women of the future, the Museum celebrated inspiring women from the past, such as the all-female Waterloo bridge builders. They also looked at the future and lead discussions on how to achieve gender equality in the transport industry.

Following on from this theme, Emma is giving a timely talk as part of the Museum’s next Late Debate: Environment matters on 7 June, an event to discuss and explore ways of making London a cleaner, greener, and more livable city, including engineering and design solutions to environmental issues.

Walking around the museum together, stopping at Victorian vehicles and construction models, and taking in the museum’s two new exhibitions, Digging Deeper on tunneling and The Secret Life of a Megaproject on Crossrail, Emma shares her modern engineer’s take on the construction of London and her own experience as a part of it.

Exploring London Transport Museum

In Emma’s first 18 months as a qualified engineer she has taken part in a wide variety of projects. From building an internal bridge at Waterloo station, to a stint on a Crossrail site – “every single engineer in London has worked on Crossrail”, she says, laughing. She is now involved in restoration and modernisation work of Bazalgette’s original sewers. And when someone talks with gleaming eyes and enthusiasm about going down into the sewers, you know that they are passionate about their job. She says engineering allows her to see fascinating hidden parts of London that are inaccessible to the public, but integral to how we use and live in the city.

On our tour of the museum, Emma stops at a model of Victorian cut-and-cover tunneling, showing wooden supports, horse-operated machinery, and men working without any protective clothing. While Emma values health and safety as well as modern machines on today’s construction sites, she can’t help but admire the ingenuity of the workers and inventors of the past, trying new methods at great personal risk. And not only in London: In Paris, the ground was too wet and soft to tunnel into, so the engineers froze it using liquid nitrogen as early as 1900.

cut-and-cover-model

One thing Emma says hasn’t changed much compared to the Victorian tunneling display is the lack of women on a construction site. Today, still only 1% of site workers are women. Attitudes have changed though, and she has always felt welcome and integrated on all her work projects. Emma is passionate about inspiring other young people, especially girls, to go into engineering. She is an ambassador for the Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE). ICE is contributing to the Late Debate too, running an interactive engineering challenge to save a Lego-built city from flooding.

Book onto the Late Debate: Environment Matters on 7th June 2018, where you can meet Emma and hear about her experience developing a green attitude in construction.

Cultural Yoga

Cultural Yoga adds another dimension to the museum experience

Cultural Yoga instructor Chi Onuora combines her two passions, museum education and yoga, to help Londoners add another level of awareness to their museum visit. She runs architectural yoga at the Design Museum and Sir John Soane’s Museum, and now she is bringing her unique approach to London Transport Museum.

Cultural Yoga instructor Chi Onuora

Chi will host a Yoga and Mindfulness workshop as part of the upcoming Late Debate: Environment matters on 7th June. As well as debates on climate change and air pollution, talks and workshops on sustainable transport and greening the city, the Late Debate will be exploring mental health and well-being for city dwellers.

Late Debate: Environment matters

The Yoga and Mindfulness for Urban Living workshop will include a 10-15 minute self-practice for waking up in the morning and winding down in the evening and some desk-based yoga to help with common conditions caused by office work such as wrist and neck problems.

Cultural yoga headstand

And even if you’re not quite able to do a headstand in the middle of the tube, why not use your daily commute for a mindfulness practice? “Mindfulness can help us be more aware of our environment, which can then enable us to change it. And it can help us get through a stressful situation that we might not be able to change – such as the busy tube ride to work in the morning”, says Chi.

Cultural yoga

To take part, join the Late Debate on 7th June. In the meantime, follow @LTMInterchange on Twitter to stay up to date on the ShapingLDN programme and follow @CulturalYoga on Instagram for a taste of Chi Onuora’s practice.

Cultural yoga

 

Let’s clear the air

Let’s clear the air – how to tackle London’s air pollution problem with Professor Frank Kelly of the London Air Quality Network at King’s College London

Walking down Oxford Street on a warm day makes the claim that it is sometimes the world’s most polluted street seem believable. This, of course, is difficult to prove or disprove. The London Air Quality Network measure levels of air pollution in every London Borough and publish the results hourly. It consists of about 100 monitors, very sensitive machines which measure small particles by weight, and gases like Nitrogen Dioxide and Ozone using spectroscopy.

Air quality

Professor Frank Kelly started the network in 1993, as part of the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London. At first, it was established to monitor the pollution in East London where the last remaining power stations were, and coal-burning was the main concern.

While coal is not a considerable source of pollution in London any more, the pollutants found in the air today are mainly coming from transport vehicles. Frank Kelly says: “Diesel in particular has increased as a source of pollutant over that time because all of our public transport system is basically diesel-fuelled.”

So what can we do to reduce these emissions? The bus fleet is slowly being modernised with electric single-decker buses and hybrid double-deckers. The first electric black cabs can be seen on London’s streets and there are grants available to cabbies to help make that transition. But a lot of diesel and petrol vehicles are privately owned cars. Frank Kelly sees the responsibility with the motor vehicle industry itself: within the range of cars that conform to Euro 6 emission standards, there is still a large discrepancy of actual emissions, and it is hard for consumers to find out which vehicles are cleaner than others.

Having said this, Kelly does recommend choosing public transport over driving no matter how clean your car is, and says he would love to one day see a car-free city: “I think it would be a much better city to live in. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to take a few decades for everyone to realise what the benefits of this will be. Unless you go to Copenhagen or another city which has moved in that direction, you can’t really see what the benefits are until you experience them yourself.” This would go hand in hand with improving cycling infrastructure. But Frank Kelly emphasises how important it is to gain the population’s support before continuing in this direction, again looking at Copenhagen to learn how to overcome resistance to change.

Air pollution mapLondon map showing pollution levels on londonair.org.uk

Frank Kelly is chairing a panel debate at London Transport Museum’s upcoming Late Debate: Environment matters. He’ll be joined by panellists Lilli Matson, Director of Transport Strategy at Transport for London; Samantha Heath, Chief Executive of the London Sustainability Exchange; Justin Bishop, Senior Consultant in Transport Planning at Arup, and Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London. Together they’ll be debating and discussing measures such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone coming into force in April 2019, and how combined technical, regulatory, and educational approaches can provide a solution to this serious health threat.

To take part in the debate and put your own questions to the panel, join the Late Debate on 7th June. In the meantime, send your thoughts, questions, opinions, or snaps of electric buses or cabs to @LTMInterchange on Twitter.