By Sam Mullins OBE, Museum Director
Tucked away over the bridge by Acton Town station, our Museum Depot is one of west London’s best kept secrets. The huge warehouse and operational base of London Transport Museum, the Depot is a transport Aladdin’s Cave and only usually open to the public for special weekends, guided tours and schools’ visits. But this summer, as a local response to the easing of lockdown, the Museum Depot will be open with a special ten-day family programme.
We have long nurtured the idea of a family summer camp at our Museum Depot. Easy access from west London, the outdoor spaces, the Depot full of buses and trains, signs and signals, roundels and tunnel rings, lifts and escalators, and the London Transport Miniature Railway make it a unique and stimulating place to visit. So, as a response to all the restrictions of Covid-19, and parents and children facing another long holiday with limited options for stimulation and distraction, our brilliant team have rapidly thought up a ten-day family programme at the Depot, from Wednesdays to Sundays, on 19-23 and 26-30 August 2020.
This is not the conventional summer Depot opening – it has been designed specifically for family groups with children aged 5-11 and will certainly not be the crowded transport festival of our open weekends. Family groups, in pre-booked small numbers, will progress through a self-led trail of the bus and train sheds with mini challenges and quick quiz questions to explore our remarkable collection. In the interests of our visitors’ safety, not all of the Depot features or the vehicles will be accessible, but the 1938 tube stock train will be.
An outdoor craft area at the back of the Depot will encourage families’ creative response and the individual, sealed activity packs can be taken away to extend the fun at home. To conclude the experience, enjoy a coffee, support our shop and take a ride on the London Transport Miniature Railway which will give you an opportunity to ride on your own exclusive family carriage.
If this family programme works well, we hope to extend into weekends in the autumn. Tickets are on sale now with many timed slots available. I for one will be at the gate personally welcoming visitors back to the Depot – we are so very keen to be back in action – and I hope to soon be able to announce the Museum at Covent Garden opening in September. Watch this space!