Tag Archives: family activities

Opening the Museum Depot for a new summer season

By Fenella Goodhart, Head of Learning, and Matt Brosnan, Head Curator

Planning is now underway to get the London Transport Museum’s Depot in Acton open in August.  We can’t wait to welcome visitors and staff back and to unlock this treasure trove of London’s transport history.

We are planning a family experience at the Depot for two weeks  from 19-23 and 26-30 August 2020.  It will be a timed ticket offer so that we can control numbers and ensure a safe and relaxing experience for visitors.  We will create a trail of the Depot vehicle sheds which will not only reveal some of the stories of this rarely seen collection but also keep those Maths and Literacy neurons for firing over the summer holidays!

View overlooking train shed inside Museum Depot in Acton

Our vehicles are some of the crown jewels in our rich collection. We care for 85 vehicles including buses, trains, trams, taxis and even a tractor. Some are on display at the Museum in Covent Garden, but opening our much larger Depot gives visitors a detailed insight into how travel in London has changed since the nineteenth century. It is also an impressive sight to stand in the space and take in a bus and tram shed packed full of vehicles and row upon row of Underground trains.

Some of the many buses at the Depot – from right to left, a ‘garden seat’ horse bus, a B type motorbus, a K type motorbus and an NS type motorbus

On their trail in August, visitors can encounter a beautiful ‘garden seat’ horse bus dating from 1881, a time when London’s streets were filled with horse-drawn traffic. Immediately alongside is a handsome red B type bus from 1911, the very first mass produced type of motorbus in the world. Visitors will see for themselves that not all London buses were red, with brown, green and even gold examples at the Depot.

A view along one of the walkways between rail vehicles, including a Metropolitan Railway wagon (right) that was in service from 1897 to 1970

Visitors will also be able to weave their way around an array of trains that have served London’s commuters since the early days of the Underground. They range from the functional to the beautiful. Practical vehicles like an 1897 ballast wagon and a 1939 sleet locomotive share rails with a shiny red 1938 Stock Tube train filled with stylish Art Deco touches.

Inspired by the collection, we will be providing family visitors with their very own sealed, activity pack to use on site or take home.  We will be making use of the large outdoor area behind the Depot to allow families time to rest and relax in the fresh air and dip into their activity packs.  Hopefully snacks and hot drinks will also be available for visitors.

Green Routemaster bus outside Museum Depot

And to top it off,  the London Transport Miniature Railway will be up and running, completing the Depot experience with this much loved attraction.

London Transport Museum Miniature Railway. Driver is facing away from camera with three passengers on board behind him

Foremost in our minds in planning the reopening of the Museum Depot is creating a safe, welcoming and enjoyable experience for visitors and staff.  Managing numbers and social distancing, a robust cleaning regime for all, friendly and knowledgeable staff and clearly planned and signposted one way routes are top of our list of priorities.  We look forward to keeping you posted on our planning and welcoming you to the Depot for our summer season from the 19 August 2020.

Exploring London’s Signs and Symbols

By Stephanie O’Neill-Winbow, Family Learning Officer

It feels like Christmas was just here, but already it’s February half term! If you’re looking for somewhere fun to play and explore during this school holiday, visit the Museum from 15 to 23 February.

We’ve got something very special planned for you:  we are sending you and your family on a mission to explore our galleries and discover the signs and symbols that make London’s transport system the most recognisable in the world. It’s amazing to see how even the littlest of children are able to recognise the roundel as the symbol for the Underground. We’ll be celebrating these visual, familiar and accessible areas of transport through dressing up, role play, object handling, colouring in and problem solving.

In the Transportorium on the ground floor, families will be able to take part in fun games – think party games with a transport twist: you have probably played Simon Says before, but what about the ‘Sign Says’? We’ll also be playing Bingo with symbols instead of numbers. We promise it’ll be quite the laugh! These Transport Games will be running six times a day, every day from 10:45 for about 20 minutes each, so there’s plenty of opportunities for families to join in.

All Aboard play zone

Alongside these special activities, we have our two dedicated All Aboard play zones for children under 7, and our big red buses, trains and a tram that you can climb aboard. Our Customer Service team are friendly, helpful and always ready to share lots of knowledge about the history of London’s transport.  There’s also our Hidden London exhibition, an engaging and exciting glimpse of what goes on underground in London, particularly appealing to older children and adults in your family group.

A child and his mother pretend to use a phone exchange from the 1940s
Hidden London: the Exhibition

As usual for each of our school holidays, we will also run an Explorer Event for families with children with additional needs, on Saturday 22 February from 8:30 to 10:00. During this time, half term activities will be available while all the sounds around the galleries are turned off or turned down, and extra sensory resources are available. If this sounds like the right event for your family to visit the Museum, do make sure to book your place here.

February half term is a busy and energetic time for the Museum – every year we are so lucky that lots of lovely families choose to pay us a visit. This time around, we’re hoping to welcome even more of you!

Poster of the Week #22

This week’s featured poster is London Subterranea by Stephen Walter (2012).

Subterranean London is an amalgamation of secret tunnels, buried rivers, sewers, utility pipes, bunkers and of course the London Underground along with its many now disused stations. Stephen Walter spent months researching and visiting sites underground to construct the final map. He also included mysterious elements such as ley lines, pagan burial sites and sites of unsolved murders. The original artwork was specially commissioned by London Transport Museum and features in the current exhibition Mind the Map which runs until the 28th of October.

Much of Stephen Walter’s worked is map based and always includes words and symbols to illustrate not just geographical landmarks but history, stories and trivia relating to a location. As well as drawing maps he works with a range of mediums including photography, digital drawing, painting and collage. His other notable works include cover illustrations for the successful books of Dr Who script writer Ben Aaronovitch – Rivers of London and Moon over Soho. His work has been included in the Royal Academy of Arts prestigious Summer Exhibition five times and is part of many important art collections including that of The British Library, the British Government Art Collection, the Royal College of Art Drawing Collection and now also London Transport Museum!

London Subterranea is the featured map in our final week of I-Spy Maps Summer Family Fun activities here at the Museum which finishes on Sunday 2nd of September. Families can discover the details of the map through story telling, games and craft workshops.

If you would like your own copy of this map to explore prints are available to buy in a range of sizes from our online shop.