Collecting for 2013 – The end of the A Stock

Over the past couple of years, brand new snazzy trains have begun to appear on the Metropolitan Line. These S Stock trains are gradually being added to the London Underground system, replacing the 50 year old A Stock trains. The A Stock are being removed from the network at a rate of two trains per week, and by the end of 2012 will be no more.

The transition from A Stock to S Stock has been an exciting turning point for some drivers, but the end of an era for others. Capturing the workings of the old trains in operation was identified as a priority for the LU150 anniversary project, so yesterday myself and film-maker Geoff Marshall boarded an A Stock at Harrow-on-the-Hill and accompanied driver Richard Griffin on his journey up and down the Metropolitan line for the day

Having never had the opportunity to ride in a Tube cab before, the experience was incredibly exciting! Stations, tracks and other vehicles look so different from the front of the train, and is was fascinating to see Richard operating the train, stopping at signals, making announcements and following the timetable.

Geoff captured lots of footage on camera, which will be edited into a short film and added to the Museum’s collection. As soon as it’s done I will share it up here, but for now here are a few pictures from my ride!

Restoring Met353 – A craftsman’s perspective

One of the first challenges has been to repair the teak frame of the carriage; and undo the damage caused by many decades of human use and exposure to the elements. Surprisingly, in spite of being a timber frame, most of the damage has been caused by rust.

In the 1890s, the normal way to construct the wooden framework of a railway carriage was to use traditional joints such as ‘mortise and tenon’ and ‘lap joints’. In the absence of any effective glue, steel woodscrews were used to keep these joints together. Where further reinforcement was required  steel brackets were added, held in place by bolts or coachscrews. Over time these steel screws and bolts have rusted, and as they rusted they have caused considerable damage.

 
Image 1 (Left): Comparison of severely rusted coachscrew with complete example
Image 2 (Right): Rusted screw with resulting split in wood

As the screws and bolts slowly rusted, the expanding corrosion inexorably forced the wood apart, bending and splitting it. In some places, such as the tops of the corner posts, the fixings have split and splayed the timber in every possible direction.

To repair this sort of damage, the rusty fixings must first be carefully removed, the splits stabilised, holes plugged, and finally the surface replaced with a structural veneer of sound material. Once complete, the repair will be visually unobtrusive and should last for many years.

The above information was kindly provided by David Gunn, a Festiniog Railway craftsman working on the restoration of Met 353.

Collecting for 2013 – Caledonian Road station’s whiteboard artist

 

 

It’s not every London Underground worker who has a song written and recorded about her, but that’s what has happened to Kim Kalan.

The bubbly customer service assistant at Caledonian Road station, on the Piccadilly line, has been brightening up the ticket hall with her intricate whiteboard drawings  – with an accompanying cheerful message for passengers.

As well as being praised by customers, Kim’s colourful drawings were noticed by local musician Eoin Quiery. He was so impressed he decided a write a song about her, which has been recorded on the latest album made by his acoustic rock band, Burning Wheel.

Called Kimmie Song, it can also be found on YouTube and other social networking sites.

It all began in a small way,” said self-taught artist Kim. “When we used to display notices to the public about delays or other problems, I started to put little drawings on them to brighten them up.”

She then moved on to the whiteboard drawings, working on them in her breaks and often coming in early before her shift begins.

Using white board markers she covers a wide range of subjects, ranging from the Mona Lisa to the World Cup and Armistice Day, always coming up with something special to mark Christmas, Easter and other seasonal occasions.

“I do it purely to make the day better for my customers,” said Kim, who affectionately refers to them as “my lovelies.”

She added: “What’s important to me is the positive effect my drawings and messages have on people; I’m not after any sort of recognition.”

Passengers regularly praise her drawings, including a local professional artist who said he could not do what she does with the white board markers. Other passengers have asked her to draw portraits of them.

Asked what she thought when she found out that Eoin Quiery had written a song about her, she said: “I was very surprised. How often do people get a song written about them?”

Kim, whose mother Sandra works in the station’s ticket office, also writes science fiction in her spare time. Her first fantasy book is complete and Kim is currently waiting for an agent.

My ambition is to become a full-time writer,” she said. “In the meantime I will continue with my ticket hall drawings and am so glad that they have met with such a brilliant response from customers.”

You can check out more of Kims work at www.kimistic.co.uk

Words and photos by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend

Access to Art

Our day out at Kew could not have been better. The sun was shining, the ducks were out and about and spring was in the air. There were also plenty of aeroplanes in the sky, making for a challenging soundscape! Rhys ran through how to use some stereo system recording devices including a Marantz PMD 661digital recorder and a Rode NT4 Fixed X/Y Stereo Microphone in a Rycote wind shield. We also learnt to use mono system recording devices such as a Zoom H4 digital recorder and a Sennheiser Shotgun microphone on a boom!

After mastering the art of recording we set off into the sunshine capturing the sounds of waterfalls, geese, flowing water, leaves under foot, the raking and shoveling of earth, the clattering of cups and the sound of distant voices.

Rhys and his team then had the challenge of bringing all these sounds together to produce an MP3 soundtrack that would accompany the poster in the Museum as part of the Poster Parade in April (on display until 15th May).

The particiapnts wish to thank London Transport Museum, Museums, Libraries & Archives, Orleans House Gallery, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Audioposts.

Paintings in Hospitals Soundscape Poster Project

The next element of the Paintings in Hospitals Soundscape Poster Project took us all off to the Museum Depot in Acton Town. Jumpers on, and avoiding the washing of buses prior to the open weekend, we explored the depot and had a chance to see some of the posters from the 40,000 strong collection. Gloves on, we were able to take a closer look. Participants were then able to compare their drawings from the first day of the project with the original posters (below).

Museum Curator Robert Excel was on hand to give one of his enigmatic tours of the depot which served to exceed the participants expectations. Then the difficult decision came – which poster will we choose to create a soundscape for? Due to the tour being so interesting and general enjoyment, time ran out and I set the task for the group to email me with their choice of poster, with 3 reasons for their choice and sounds they would like to record.

Join us again to find out about how we get on at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

Written by Laura Service

Collecting for 2013 – Women and the Tube

The role that women play at Transport for London, and in particular London Underground, was one of the themes the Museum wanted to explore during this year’s collaborative collecting project. TfL graduate trainee Laura Sullivan, who currently works in the planning department at London Underground, signed up to be one of the Museum’s community collectors for the LU150 project. Laura is a member of the TfL Women’s Staff Network Group and was keen to explore the ways in which the other members could contribute to the LU150 contemporary story for the Museum. We decided that attending the International Women’s Day celebrations on March 8th was an ideal opportunity to meet lots of the women, allowing us to capture their experiences of working for TfL.

Photographers Heather McDonough and Rod Morris came along, capturing beautiful portraits of around 30 members of staff. Everyone who took part was also asked two questions:

– what does working for Transport for London mean to you?

– what are your hopes for the future with regards to women’s roles at Transport for London?

The responses were varied and very interesting. They included:

” I love being part of something everyone in London has an opinion about – whether positive or negative – it means I am working on a railway that people care about, and I can make a difference.”

” TfL is such a key part of London and it makes me proud to be working for the organisation. I see myself as an ambassador for the organisation and if anybody criticises its services I give them the facts and figures, to make them understand the enormity of what we do.”

” I feel like I am part of something important. How rare is it that millions of people see the result of your hard work every day?”

” I think the future is very bright for women at TfL. We have the opportunity to contribute to making TfL a world class organisation that we can all be proud of.”

” That there will be no barriers, perceived or otherwise, to doing any job at TfL. I’m looking forward to the first female managing director!”

The Museum is going to add the portraits along with the responses to our permanent collection, as a record of what it’s like to be a woman at the Tube at 150 years.

Paintings in Hospitals

The Paintings in Hospitals project, another strand of the Access to Art project, is a collaboration between the museum, the charity Paintings in Hospitals, Orleans House Gallery and Richmond Carers. As part of the project the museum recently worked with Richmond Carers and their families to use the poster collections as inspiration to make a soundscape.

This part of the project, which will take place over 3 separate sessions, examined 5 posters that are to be gifted to Paintings in Hospitals. The aim is to create a soundscape in response to one of them which will later be recorded at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

A group from Richmond Carers met at Orleans House Gallery in Richmond for the beginning of the project. The first element of the project was to think about what a soundscape is and how we were going to make one. Participants worked together to examine the posters by doing short creative workshops which included one participant describing a poster while another created a drawing based upon the description (below).

This was then followed up with an introduction to the microphone and what it does. This element of the day was led by sound engineer Rhys Beetham from Audiopost. He and the group explored how to create sounds and what things really sounded like when you listen to them more closely. Many of the sounds which surround us are not engineered to be listened to and therefore we often simply block them out. If we were to gain anything from this project it would be to notice more of the sounds around us and to gain a greater experience of the world by making better use of our senses.

In the workshop the participants listened to the sounds through headphones (above). They noticed that by moving the sounds first closer and then farther away from the microphone it created a sense of space using just sound. We wanted to use this technique when recording sounds for the soundscape to create this illusion of space.

Join us again to find out about how we get on at the Museum Depot in Acton.

By Laura Service