Tag Archives: Exhibition

Uncovering Hidden London

by Sam Mullins OBE, London Transport Museum’s Director

Abandoned stations and lost underground tunnels have long exerted a special fascination. As Londoners hurry on their well-beaten paths through the modern metro, they pass the locked doors and lost entrances which lead to a secret world of redundant lift shafts, cavernous ventilation ducts and redundant platforms. The Tube is an ever-expanding system, which in its need to carry even more passengers, has left in its wake hidden places and spaces. Shrouded in mystery this lost subterranean world has given rise to a good deal of urban myth and speculation, from secret government installations to the home of ghosts, aliens and flesh-eating troglodytes.

A man and a woman shining a light down an abandoned tunnel
An abandoned tunnel at Aldwych station.

The truth is often more prosaic than this. The Museum’s Hidden London tour programme uncovers the flotsam and jetsam cast aside by the Underground’s continuous response to the incessant demands to keep the city on the move. Guided tours open up the lost worlds of London’s Underground and give fresh insights into the city’s history.

A richly illustrated book based on new research and unprecedented access to these lost worlds has shone new light into the Cold War bunker beneath Hampstead Heath, Churchill’s secret refuge from the Blitz at Down Street, the world’s first underground terminus at King William Street and lost tunnels at Euston and Piccadilly Circus.

A new immersive exhibition opens in the Museum’s Global Gallery  on 11 October 2019. Hidden London: the Exhibition will take you on a journey of some of London’s most secret spaces in the oldest subterranean railway in the world. These ‘forgotten’ parts of the Tube network have incredible stories to tell about Britain’s wartime past; such as the Plessey aircraft underground factory which had 2,000 members of staff, mostly women, working in two 2.5-mile-long tunnels on the eastern section of the Central line during the Second World War.

Factory workers at Plessey Underground factory, 1941 © TfL

Visiting the exhibition you’ll be able to enjoy – some for the very first time – the largest number of rare archive photos, objects, vintage posters, secret diagrams and decorative tiles from disused stations that have been brought together in one location. You’ll be able to see what sheltering was like for Churchill in a recreation of the secret dining room at Down Street station, where he was served the best caviar, champagne, brandy and cigars, courtesy of the railway hotels.

Black and white photo of the entrance of Down Street station
Down Street station, 1907

You can also explore other iconic locations featured in the book which we’re recreating in our Global Gallery, including the historic abandoned ticket hall at Aldwych station with an original 1930s ticket booth, and its famous Leslie Green tiles, the modernist Hampstead High Level abandoned station and the sights and sounds of Hidden London.

Hidden London: the Exhibition opens on Friday 11 October 2019. Join us on the opening night at the first of our Hidden London themed Museum Lates.

Thameslink: a history through the city

By Laura Sleath, Senior Curator

Our latest exhibition Untangling the Tracks takes a closer look at the Thameslink Programme, a major project to increase capacity, improve connections and provide greater reliability on the Thameslink route. Work started in 2007 and stations were rebuilt, new infrastructure developed, tracks and signalling replaced, and 115 new trains were ordered.

But what is the history behind the only north-south mainline railway to cross London?

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Engraving depicting the construction of the junction of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway and Metropolitan Railway, circa 1866

The origins of the Thameslink route date back to 1866 with the opening of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway’s (LC&DR) extension over the River Thames. This was despite a Royal Commission ruling in 1846 that railways should terminate at the edge of the city, as it was believed this would help alleviate congestion on the city’s busy streets.

The LC&DR extension travelled north along a viaduct and through the new Snow Hill tunnel to Farringdon, where it could connect with the Metropolitan Railway, and onwards to King’s Cross and St Pancras.

The construction of the extension through the crowded city caused huge disruption, as is clear from an engraving from the time. It is possible to see here how the course of the line changes from viaduct to tunnel.

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Print showing the construction of the Snow Hill tunnel, 1861-62

The Ludgate Hill viaduct was famously depicted by Gustav Doré in London: A Pilgrimage. Ludgate Hill and Fleet Street are shown heaving with people and traffic while a train billows smoke from the viaduct above.

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Ludgate Hill, from London: A Pilgrimage, 1972

Along the line stations were built at Snow Hill, Holborn Viaduct and Ludgate Hill. Snow Hill station opened in 1874, but passenger services through the tunnel stopped in 1916 (the station had been renamed Holborn Viaduct Low Level in 1912), terminating at Holborn Viaduct station instead. Ludgate Hill station closed in 1929, and only freight services operated through the tunnel until 1969.

In 1986 work began to bring the north-south route through the city back. New Thameslink services started in 1988. Although Thameslink trains follow the same route today as the original LC&DR trains, the viaduct at Ludgate Hill was demolished in 1990 and replaced by a tunnel. Holborn Viaduct station was also closed in 1990, replaced by the nearby City Thameslink station.

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Ludgate Viaduct just prior to demolition, 1990

The new Thameslink services were busy with commuters, and soon overcrowding on the line had become an issue as passenger numbers in London and the South East increased. The recent Thameslink Programme has revitalised the route, adding greater capacity, and trains now serve destinations from Sussex and Kent to Bedford, Peterborough and Cambridge.

Our Untangling the Tracks exhibition is open until May 2020. Visit to discover how the Thameslink Programme transformed one of the oldest railway networks in the world, through interactive displays and games, mixed media and miniature station models.

Battle Bus Project 2016: Young Volunteers

During 2016 the Battle Bus community learning programme has worked with three amazing teams of young volunteers to co-curate an exhibition called From Tottenham to the trenches. These young volunteers consisted of a research team, an exhibition team and an outreach team who all had different roles to play in bringing together the exhibition.

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The project began in February with a group of 10 young research volunteers who were students recruited from universities across London. They were tasked with uncovering First World War stories linked to the events of 1916, the B-type bus, and Tottenham. Working alongside Rebecca Hatchett from S.I.D.E Projects, they met with museum professionals and First World War experts, delved into archives and went on field trips to piece together all the information needed to create content for the exhibition. You can read more about what they got up to on their blog here.

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This research was then passed on to eight Year 9 students at Northumberland Park Community School, who took on the role of exhibition volunteers. During weekly sessions with Rebecca and the Battle Bus Apprentice, Lamare, they creatively explored the research. They looked at why young men may have signed up to fight, the Battle of the Somme and the role that London buses played on the Western Front. Working with filmmaker Mmoloki Chrystie they used shadow puppets, drama and photography to produce images and a short creative film for the exhibition. You can watch their film here.

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The students also went on a bespoke three-day Battlefield tour to Belgium and France. They visited sites that had links to Tottenham and the buses, and learnt more about the Battle of the Somme and the Western Front.  The students paid their respects at the grave of William George Ely, a young soldier from Walthamstow whose story features in the exhibition. A film was made for the exhibition which documents their experience. You can watch it here.

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Then over the summer five young outreach volunteers worked alongside a spoken word artist, Mr Gee, to create original poems, responding to stories in the exhibition that they felt emotionally or personally attached to. Their work covered the ideas of home, memory, courage and conflict. As well as the poems featuring in the exhibition, they were also performed by the volunteers at exhibition launch events at London Transport Museum and Bruce Castle Museum.

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All the hard work and enthusiasm of the three teams of young volunteers culminated in the creation of the exhibition, From Tottenham to the trenches. It tells the story of London buses and the lives of young men from Tottenham who were affected by the First World War. It also marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. We invite you to visit the exhibition, which is on display at Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham until Sunday 26 March 2017.

Many thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and London Transport Museum Friends for funding the Battle Bus Project. Also many thanks to Tottenham Grammar School Foundation and the Friends for funding the Battlefield Tour.

A Driving Force

Alongside the restoration and conservation of Battle Bus (B-type B2737) London Transport Museum is also running an in-depth learning and engagement programme. Throughout the centenaries of the First World War, the programme will work with different groups of volunteers to investigate new perspectives of the Battle Bus and bring to life the stories of those affected by war and the role of transport within it.

In 2015 our focus was the experiences of women. At the outbreak of war in 1914 thousands of men from the transport industry volunteered to take on military roles. The industry lost a significant proportion of its workforce, and it wasn’t long before women were called upon to fill the roles that men had left behind.  In the bus industry, one of the roles undertaken by women was as conductors, ‘clippies’ or ‘conductorettes’ as they were sometimes called. They received mixed reactions from the public, simultaneously a symbol of women’s important contribution to the war effort as well as a target for derision by those who felt that women were not capable of carrying out such responsible jobs.

Working with over 40 female professionals currently employed in the transport industry we explored the stories of these first ‘conductorettes’ in more detail. We looked at the experiences of these women and how they contrast to that of women working in the bus industry today, how the role of women has changed over time, as well as asking if women today still face the same prejudices as counterparts from 100 years ago.

This film is taken from the exhibition. Sarah Liles, a Bus Driver, and Liza Maddocks, an Employee Relations Assistant, talk about their experience of working in the bus industry today. 

The stories all contributed to a final exhibition, ‘A Driving Force: 100 years of women in transport’. As well as the film shown above the exhibition included oral history interviews, artwork and a timeline of key milestones in the story of women in transport from 1915-2015. In the Summer and Autumn the exhibition toured cultural and community venues throughout London, including Catford Bus Garage, London Transport Museum Depot in Acton, Westminster Music Library and Victoria Coach Station.

Poster Art 150: And the Winner is…

Brightest London is best reached by Underground, Horace Taylor, 1924

basket Buy Brightest London Poster

The results are in and the public have decided that the best London Underground poster of all time is Brightest London is best reached by Underground, designed by Horace Taylor in 1924.

Over 42,000 people voted in the Siemens Poster Vote, choosing from 150 posters that featured in our exhibition Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs.

Brightest London drew 1752 of the votes with London Zoo by Abram Games (1976) and Underground – the way for all by Alfred France (1911) – securing 1614 and 1342 votes respectively.

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London Zoo, Abram Games, 1976 © Estate of Abram Games
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Underground – the way for all, Alfred France, 1911

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

basket Buy London Zoo Poster
basket Buy Underground – the Way for All Poster

The winning poster was created when cinemas still showed black and white films; vibrant posters like this splashed colour into 1920s London. The Underground is presented as bright, popular and extremely fashionable with a very smart crowd heading out for a night on the town. Still vibrant almost 90 years after it first brightened Underground stations, it is easy to imagine how effective it must have been at the time. The artist’s granddaughter once explained that Taylor often liked to paint himself into his posters. In this one he is the gentleman with the top hat and the beard on the middle escalator.

The Poster Art 150 exhibition opened on 15 February 2013 and was due to close in October but was extended until 5 January 2014 due to popular demand. It formed part of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground celebrations and featured posters by many famous artists including Edward McKnight Kauffer, Man Ray and Paul Nash, and designs from each decade over the last 100 years. Information about some of the posters featured in the exhibition can be found on this blog.

The posters were selected from the Museum’s archive of over 3,300 Underground posters by a panel of experts; the 150 that appeared in the exhibition show the range and depth of the Museum’s collection.

Director of London Transport Museum, Sam Mullins, said “The number of votes for Brightest London is impressive given the public had a large selection from which to choose.  We’re delighted that so many people participated in the Siemens Poster Vote which reinforces the view that our poster collection is one of the best loved collections of graphic art in the world.”

Siemens Rail Systems UK Managing Director, Steve Scrimshaw, said “We were proud to be part of the 150th anniversary of London Underground, and have been delighted by the success of the Siemens Poster Vote, it has really captured people’s imaginations.  It is fascinating to see how design has changed over the last 150 years – we have many engineers who are passionate about design, maybe Poster Art 150 has given them some new ideas!”

The Land of Hopeful Commuters – Londoners, we need you!

‘Where do you hope to be?’

We’re collecting your responses to this question at http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/landofhopefulcommuters, which will be used by the artist Agnès Poitevin-Navarre to create a new artwork for the Museum’s ‘Mind the Map’ exhibition!

I’ll be spending today in the Museum’s galleries with one of our volunteers, Darren, asking Museum visitors where they hope to be. Last week we did a survey of Museum staff to get their responses, which Agnès used to create the below example of how the final artwork might look. Here’s some of the Museum staff’s responses, just to get the creative juices flowing:

– Picnicking in the park this summer, laughing with friends in London Fields
– New York
– In a place where my achievements outweigh my ambitions

I’ll be posting updates on the project as it develops. Look forward to receiving your response soon!

Preparing for ‘Mind the Map’ at LTM Depot – by Peter Crump Young Consultant

On Saturday 7th January the Young Consultants took a trip to the London Transport Museum Depot.

We had the amazing opportunity to work with curator Claire Dobbin, and we were luckily granted the chance to help select the pocket maps to appear in the upcoming exhibition “Mind the Map”.

The Depot, based in Acton Town holds the history of London Transport from pocket maps & posters to the last buses and trains of their kind, which eventually receive funding for repair and gets used as exhibits in places like the LTM.

During my action packed day at the Depot I learnt a lot of information on the history of transport which gave me the answers to many unanswered questions.; such as how the underground map we use today was created.

I explored the different types of pockets maps from the past 200 years, looking at various different designers and how and why they have changed.

I’d say the LTM Depot is a mind-blowing environment for transport fans everywhere and would definitely advice you to attend the public open days. For information on these days check out http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/museum-depot/events.

London Commuters – WE NEED YOU!

In one week from today you’ll get the chance to contribute to a major artwork that will be displayed in our upcoming Mind the Map exhibition, 18th May to 28th October.

The artist Agnès Poitevin-Navarre is working with us to create a new map of London based on Londoners’ responses to a mystery question that will only be revealed next Wednesday 8th February in the Metro newspaper and on the Museum’s website. We’ll be collecting responses from Wednesday 8th February until Friday 10th February so watch this space! If you’d like to be one of the first to receive the questionnaire then register your interest by contacting michelle.brown@ltmuseum.co.uk.

Agnès Poitevin-Navarre

You can read more about Agnes and her work at http://www.agnespnavarre.com

Susan Stockwell – Mind the Map Artist

I recently posted about London Transport Museum’s mapping project with artist Susan Stockwell. I’ve been receiving lots of ticket donations – thank you! We’re still keen to collect as many transport tickets as possible and Susan has put in a special request for international transport tickets, so do get in touch should you like to contribute.

Here’s a bit more information about Susan’s work:

Susan Stockwell’s work takes many forms from small elaborate studies to large scale installations, sculpture, drawings and collage. It is concerned with issues of ecology, geo-politics, mapping, trade and global commerce. The materials used are the everyday, domestic and industrial disposable products that pervade our lives. These materials are manipulated and transformed into works of art that are extraordinary.

Stockwell gained an MA in sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London in 1992. Since then she has exhibited in galleries and museums all over the world including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the National Museum of China in Beijing,Katonah Museum of Art in America and soon London Transport Museum. She has been awarded scholarships, grants and commissions such as a Visiting Arts Taiwan-England Artists Fellowship, an Arts and Humanities Research Council Grant and has recently completed a large public commission World for the University of Bedfordshire. She has taught extensively and taken part in residencies and projects in Europe, America, Australia and Asia. She is based in London, England.

You can find out more about Susan’s work by visiting her website at: http://www.susanstockwell.co.uk

Susan Stockwell’s recent work (detail), a map of the world made from used computer parts. Commissioned by Luton University, 2010

 

Claire Brewster – Mind the Map’s first completed commission

We now have our first completed Mind the Map artwork! London Transport Museum is commissioning a series of new artworks for the exhibition, including the Lost & Found project where by an artwork is created from lost or found transport maps and explores the theme of ‘journeys’.

Paper artist Claire Brewster visited London Transport Museum to search through our large collection of discarded maps, including some sourced from TfL’s lost property office, from which to create her artwork. Claire selected a series of maps from 1987, the year that she moved to London and significant to her own personal journey. You can find out more about Claire’s work at her website: http://www.clairebrewster.co.uk

I recently visited Claire at her studio to interview her about the commission. You’ll have to wait for next year’s exhibition to see the final artwork but for now you can get a behind the scenes look at its making, including details from Claire on her approach and influences:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyjwZV_jN2k

Pocket Underground map from 1987, the year that Claire moved to London