Category Archives: Events

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 in retro-style prints take onboard their beautiful Tuk Tuk photo booth. Check them out at showtimephotobooth.co.uk and @ShowtimeEventsL.

Friday Late: Power, play and politics takes place on 26 October 2018. Book your tickets here.

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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.

The Travel Queen

Dorrit Dekk (1917-2014) was probably the most successful female poster designer working in Britain during the 1950s and 60s. Known as ‘The Travel Queen’, her joyful images for Air France, the Orient Line, P&O and the Post Office earned her a worldwide following. Yet surprisingly, given London Transport’s reputation as a patron of outstanding design, she produced only one poster for the Underground, We Londoners (1961), which can be seen in the Museum’s current Poster Girls exhibition.

The commission was the idea of Harold Hutchison, London Transport’s Publicity Officer, who wanted a poster showing various London ‘types’ wearing distinctive, or ceremonial, dress. His suggestions included well-known figures, like Chelsea Pensioners and market porters, alongside more obscure ‘occupations’, such as a Royal Mace Bearer and a Swan Upper. Quite what the Czech born Dekk made of these suggestions is not recorded, but she set about the task in May 1960. The final design, for which she was paid 120 guineas, was published in June the following year. Dekk was evidently very pleased with the result, telling Hutchison that the poster “looks quite gay and just right for the foreign invasion of tourists”. She had the design reprinted as her personal Christmas card, while London Transport reissued it under licence to Cunard and even as a headscarf pattern in 1969.

Doritt Dekk

To find out more about the women who designed posters for the Underground in the 1960s and throughout the last century, visit our Poster Girls exhibition during our ‘Swinging Sixties’ Friday Late, which takes place this Friday evening 18 May. As well as the exhibition, you can enjoy curated lectures, tours, workshops and there will be bars and 60s sounds played by the Museum’s resident DJ – The Museum of Vinyl.

www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/friday-lates#swinging-sixties

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

C&RE

A modern couple who brought a new aesthetic to 1930s poster art

Unique among the artists featured in London Transport Museum’s Poster Girls, Clifford and Rosemary Ellis were a husband and wife design partnership. They married in 1931 after meeting at the Regents Street Polytechnic, and henceforth virtually all their commercial work was jointly signed, often with the initials ‘C&RE’. At the time, this was an unusual demonstration of artistic and marital equality, underlined by the occasional use of the signature ‘Rosemary and Clifford Ellis’ (rather than ‘Clifford & Rosemary’) which can be seen on one of the London Transport posters in the exhibition. In describing their collaborative approach, Rosemary explained that either one might have the original idea for a design which they would then finalise together.

Whatever the origins of their ideas may have been, the results were extraordinary. Their unmistakable style was characterised by a lively use of colour and form, creating unusual and memorable poster designs. Travels in Time (1937), for example, is almost surrealist in its depiction of a disembodied Charles I against an imagined landscape. Luckily for Londoners, this bewildering image was paired with an explanatory poster (also designed by Rosemary and Clifford) promoting the Capital’s museums. In contrast, their representation of animals and birds, seen in their designs for Green Line Coaches (1933), was wonderfully naturalistic and alive with movement.

Ellis artwork

By the late thirties, the couple were much in demand, having designed posters for London Transport, the Empire Marketing Board, the Post Office and Shell-Mex. Their joint output included book jackets, lithographs, murals, mosaics and wallpaper. Clifford was also the headmaster of the Bath Academy of Art and instrumental in re-establishing it as one of Britain’s foremost art colleges at Corsham Court after the Second World War. During the war, Rosemary and Clifford worked together on the monumental Recording Britain project, but are perhaps best remembered today for the 60+ dust jackets they designed for the long running New Naturalist book series.

The couple’s extensive personal archive was auctioned in 2017 following the death of their only child, the sculptor Penelope Ellis. London Transport Museum acquired two rare ‘proof’ versions of ‘Museums’ (1937), showing annotations made by the artists before final printing. These included the replacement of the printed London Transport logo with a hand drawn alternative, which was accepted for the final design.

To find out more about Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, visit the Poster Girls exhibition at London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, or go behind the scenes to explore the Museum’s famous poster collection at Acton Depot Open Weekend, 21-22 April. Full details of Depot tours and times can be found here www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/museum-depot/open-weekends

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

Late Debate: Women of the Future

Written by Volunteer, Carrie Long

C21st Suffragists: Time Travelling Feminists

C21st-Suffragists

“Well done Sister Suffragette! … We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats” was the uplifting tune that rang out as I entered London Transport Museum for its Late Debate: Women of the Future, celebrating the centenary of (some) British women gaining suffrage.

The Museum after dark offered a unique experience, with historic London buses and trains, once driven by a predominantly masculine workforce, now providing a striking backdrop to an empowering exchange of innovative women.

London Transport Museum’s focus on ‘Women of the Future’ made it stand apart from other centenary events. Historically embedded in the impact that the emergence of public transport had on women’s emancipation, the museum turned our attention to the present and the future, with informative topical discussions, combined with fun creative workshops and the chance to network with modern day feminists. The event transported me on a journey through time, bridging the history of women’s suffrage with today’s continued campaign for equality.

First Stop: 1890

My journey of discovery started with Victorian women inventors and their extraordinary cyclewear. As well as giving guests the chance to try on outfits, Kat Jungnickel’s research project – Bikes and Bloomers – insightfully and playfully highlighted the important role women played, not only as feminist campaigners, but as Victorian engineers, designers and radical feminist inventors.

Bikes and BloomersFawcett-Society
Women-InstituteUnderwear-bunting

Next Stop: 1918

More untold stories from feminist history were revealed in a series of PechaKucha talks, celebrating the achievements of women from Millicent Fawcett to the all-female builders of Waterloo Bridge. I was reminded how important it is to look beneath the surface, especially as I found out that statues memorialising women make up only 2% of monuments in London.

Next Stop: 1968

Inspired by a legendary protest by nearly four hundred second-wave feminists in 1968, some allegedly burning their bras, London Transport Museum invited visitors to write their feminist fury on paper pants and bloomers, in a workshop run by feminist campaigner and underwear designer Rachel Kenyon.

#BehindEveryGreatCity2

To the Future:

Modern day feminist, founder of the Women’s Equality Party and author Catherine Mayer, dressed in a space outfit to present her vision of future called ‘Equalia’ – an alternative world in which men and women have achieved full equality. Meanwhile, an expert-packed panel discussed how to achieve this future. With a definite focus on the transport industry, they still touched on a lot of the same themes, such as the need for equal parental care. Less pressure on men to ‘wear the trousers’!

A commitment for the future…

Having travelled and considered many costume changes through time, I know that the mission for equality is far from over. But having been surrounded by a community of inspiring women and men fighting for equality at this event, I am committed to keeping the conversation going, challenging gender stereotypes and facing obstacles with innovative ideas. I hope you’ll join me sister (and brother) suffragette?

www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/shaping-ldn 

Letter from Santa

Santa has been spotted in our Museum and has written a letter to let all of the children know about his visit, how they can find him and the festive activities they can enjoy.

Ho Ho Hello!

My goodness what a busy time we’re having here in the North Pole! So many letters to read and gifts to wrap, there’s almost no time to sneak off to London Transport Museum. That’s right, you may not ever have noticed before, but tucked away behind old Routemasters and London Taxis is my secret cosy Christmas hideaway. This is where I come to relax, read and try out the latest toys from the elves workshop.

Why not join me? Oh what fun! You can make your own decorations (here’s a video from one of the elves to show you how simple it can be!) and take part in a festive storytime and singalong about travelling in the city at Christmas – which trust me, isn’t easy, especially with such a heavy sack of presents to carry. Some years, I honestly don’t know how I manage to deliver everything on time, not with all the rush hour traffic (thank goodness for public transport!).

I’ve even decided to give the reindeer a couple of nights off and have booked a vintage bus tour of the city’s West End lights. If you’re not doing any last-minute Christmas shopping why not come along on the 21 or 22 December?

Oh, look at the time! I must go and finish wrapping the latest toys from the workshop!

I hope to bump into you at London Transport Museum for some festive fun very soon. If you see me, please do say ho ho hello, I’ll be around every day until 23 December (I have a long standing prior engagement on Christmas Eve).

Merry Christmas!

Santa, Mrs Clause, the elves and all the reindeer

Santa's hideout