Category Archives: Events

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.

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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

An original London pirate: 1924 LB5 Chocolate Express

Before the age of Oyster cards and contactless payments, Over 250 pirate buses ruled the streets of London, bringing chaos to the roads as each operator tried to sabotage on another.

The 1924 Chocolate Express, now on display at London Transport Museum represents this epic era in London’s Transport story when an explosion of independent pirate operators challenged the monopoly of the London General Omnibus company in the roaring twenties.

With its distinctive livery and old-fashioned adverts the Chocolate Express demonstrates that London buses have not always been red or green.  The bus earnt the reputation of running a reliable service and spotless appearance inside and out.

The Chocolate Express Omnibus company was compulsorily purchased with the formation of the London Passenger Transport Board, the organisation responsible for public transport in London, England, United Kingdom, and its environs from 1933 to 1948. By 1934 Pirate buses were legislated off the roads of London bringing an end to a colourful era.

In 1984, the Chocolate Express bus was discovered, derelict on a farm near Norwich by the highly regarded Leyland bus restorer Mike Sutcliffe MBE. Mike spent three painstaking years researching and rebuilding the bus to its former glory and went on to win several awards.

The Chocolate Express bus will be the only pirate bus in the London Transport Museum collection to represent this period of time. You can help us safeguard the future of this beautifully restored bus by supporting out campaign. Visit The Leyland buses appeal to find out more.

If you’d like to discover more about the 1924 LB5 Chocolate Express, Mike Sutcliffe MBE will be giving a talk and tour on its intriguing journey from being discovered derelict in 1984 to full restoration. Find out more about the event and book your ticket.

Traffic-scene                      Chocolate Express

In the Shadow of War

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How do we, as social historians, attempt to unravel and understand the general mood or atmosphere that existed in a massive city like London at any moment of time? Whilst significant historical events are often extensively recorded and reported often more problematic is our ability to comprehend the atmosphere of day-to-day life in the capital.

As a Museum curator my role is to interpret and make sense of history through visual and material culture and the creation of atmospheric displays.  Similarly my talk at Symposium 1914–1918 from Home Front to Western Front, will attempt to reveal the mood and atmosphere in London prior to the outbreak of World War I.  Using images of objects, photographs and paintings held in the Museum of London and other collections the talk will give both a broad overview of London in 1914 as well as analysing the minutiae of life at street level.

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As the shadow of war began to draw more heavily over the capital what were Londoners getting up to – what was their day-to-day life like, what was happening on the street, what was popular, what were Londoners talking about, were they aware of the impending threat and, more significantly, was the mood on the street being obviously affected by the threat of imminent war?

Written by Beverley Cook, Curator of Social & Working History, Museum of London (Speaker at Symposium 1914–1918 from Home Front to Western Front)

Exhibition and Symposium
If you want to find out more about the First World War you can visit our current exhibition Goodbye Piccadilly: From Home Front to Western Front, on until March 2015, or attend our Symposium 1914–1918 from Home Front to Western Front on Saturday 15 November which explores the themes of the exhibition in more depth.

London’s First Air War, 1915-1918

2006_3534 bus after zeppelin raid 1915
Bus after Zeppelin raid, 1915

Air raids on London by Zeppelin airships were expected from the moment war was declared. Early precautions included a blackout at night and the installation of guns on prominent buildings and in the parks. Even so, raids finally began from the end of May 1915, provoking a mix of responses among the Londoners from sangfroid to blind panic.

2013_8568 zeppelin raid war illustrated April 1915
Zeppelin raid in The War Illustrated, April 1915

When the air cover by fighter aircraft became more effective against Zeppelins during 1916, the Germans switched to the use of heavy bombing planes, which proved generally immune from attack by London’s air defences. The civilian authorities’ response to the air attack was lacklustre throughout the bombing campaign. Scores of thousands of Londoners huddled in the tubes, in the cellars of industrial buildings thought to be safe, or fled the city altogether. The ‘Harvest Moon Raids’ of autumn 1917, marked one of the low points of morale in London during the war.

Written by Professor Jerry White, Birkbeck College, University of London (Speaker at Symposium 1914–1918 from Home Front to Western Front)

Exhibition and Symposium
If you want to find out more about the First World War you can visit our current exhibition Goodbye Piccadilly: From Home Front to Western Front, on until March 2015, or attend our Symposium 1914–1918 from Home Front to Western Front on Saturday 15 November which explores the themes of the exhibition in more depth.

Goodbye Blighty

LRG_IMG_BB025_LTM_Converted_Bus_Piazza_2014_gallery

It’s been a busy summer for Battle Bus with appearances at commemorative events and several bus garage open days, and last week it was transformed from its traditional red and cream livery into wartime khaki. On 18 September it will set off for its latest adventure when we say goodbye to Battle Bus as it embarks on a ten day commemorative tour of the battlefields of Belgium and France.

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Half transformed Battle Bus

The Bus will depart from Folkestone, a Kent seaside resort made fashionable by the Victorians and which for four years was the main channel through which millions of troops passed on their way to the Front. Early on in the First World War troops heading to France embarked from Southampton however the crossing was long and hazardous and in 1915 the embarkation point was changed to Folkestone, and for the rest of the war the quiet seaside resort became an army camp.

folkestone
First World War Troops marching through Folkestone

Although Battle Bus will depart from Folkestone tomorrow, during the Great War most of the buses requisitioned by the War Department departed from Avonmouth, the port for Bristol. The port had cranes large enough to lift vehicles onto ships and therefore became the departure point for most motor transport.

Folkestone was the main embarkation point for millions of troops heading to France and Belgium, and for many the town was their last sight of England. Tomorrow is the grand depart for Battle Bus, it will set off from Folkestone to begin its tour of battlefields, including Arras and Zonnebeke, to commemorate the sacrifices made by so many during the First World War.

To find our more visit http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/battlebus

web-events-olebill

The story of London’s busmen at the front is also told in our new book by Dr William Ward, Ole Bill – Londons Buses and the First World War.

A Bustastic Depot Open Weekend

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Corgi B-Type Motor Bus Models available from London Transport Museum Shop (click image to view)

It’s that time of year again when we open the doors of the Museum Depot in Acton to let visitors explore and enjoy our inner workings and hidden treasures! On 13th and 14th September it will be all about our recently restored B-type Battle Bus which served on the frontline during the First World War.

As always we will be warmly welcoming families on both days to learn about our stories through interactive story-telling and fun filled creative activities. This weekend we invite you to meet Barney the B-type bus and his friend Pippa the Pigeon and help them as they embark on a very important mission.

You can also craft your own Battle Bus, and transform it from its bright London red to the Khaki green of the frontline trenches.

All of the activities this weekend have been specially designed for you by our talented young volunteers who have been singing, acting and making all summer to prepare to entertain and get creative with you.

They need you help to transform our family B-type! Decorate our BIG bus red, then turn it green and jump on board for your #ltmbattlebus selfie.

Family activities

Transform-a-bus:
11.30
– 11.50 and 14.30 – 14.50
Suitable for families with children aged 3 – 7, Free

  • Barney’s been painted green! That’s no colour for a proud London bus! But Barney’s on a very important mission and you can join him and his friend Pippa the pigeon on their journeys.

Make and Take:
12.00 – 13.00 and 15.00 – 16.15

Suitable for families with children aged 4 – 12

  • Build your own B-Type, the Bus that helped Britain in the First World War.
  • See your bus transform as it drives from the streets of London all the way to the front line.