This year it’s all about buses with Transport for London’s Year of the Bus. To celebrate we’ve been busy creating a brand new handling trolley at the Museum that has been out and about at our garage open days, meeting and inspiring audiences all over London. Now it’s back in Covent Garden and ready to be part of the Summer Family Fun offer here at the Museum
There is often a notion that museum collections are there to be seen and not touched, but here we believe that physical engagement with Museum objects can enhance the visitor experience and help them learn more from our collections.
Our contemporary handling trolley has multiple height surfaces to ensure that it is fully accessible and ‘fit for purpose’ for all sizes, ages and abilities. Its surfaces provide ample space to explore our unique objects with all the family. It also offers an array of interactive options that create a fun sensory experience.
The trolley’s traffic light is another area for exploration, currently displaying our latest handling objects with an ‘On the Bus’ theme, especially for Year of the Bus. Each ‘light’ is home to an object focused on one sense; sound, touch and smell. What’s that smell? Does it feel familiar? Can you guess what’s inside?
The trolley has been inspired by iconic London Transport design, including our much loved roundel and Johnston font quoting transport favourites in 3D lettering which lends itself to be explored through touch.
The trolley will be home to 4 handling themes on rotation throughout the summer period. ‘On the bus’, ‘Finding Your Way’, ‘Signalling’ and the family favourite ‘Tickets Please’, which will give our visitors a chance to discover a wide range of London Transport stories in a variety of new and fun ways. These collections span from tube signalling, to 19th century ticket machines, to 20th century uniforms and 21st century contemporary designs. All are delivered by our wonderful museum staff and volunteers, who are looking forward to sharing their stories with you.
The Trolley will be out on Wednesday/ Thursday/ Friday 11-4pm from August 6-29 and will feature ‘Tickets Please’.
So, it’s official, 2014 is the Year of the Bus (in London anyway). There’s at least three reasons: it’s 100 years since B-types took troops to the Western Front, 75 years since the RT first appeared on the streets of London, and 60 years since the first Routemaster made its debut at the Commercial Motor Show. As you can imagine, a significant programme of major events is planned to celebrate.
Amongst many other things we can look forward to a number of Bus Garage Open Days through the summer, a major two day Routemaster rally in July, a restored B-type being adapted as if going to France in 1914 and a unique bus rally in Central London, also in June. The programme is noteworthy for being delivered by the many different organisations and individuals which either own heritage London buses or are involved in providing services today. Inevitably this means a major contribution from the Museum, owning as it does many historic buses. If the Museum is to make the fullest contribution to the Year of the Bus a significant volunteer effort will be required to support event delivery.
To help muster the necessary forces, the museum and the Friends of the Museum held a joint volunteer recruitment event at the Acton Depot at the end of March. I went along to cast a discerning eye over the opportunities available – and there are some good ones! Before events buses need cleaning, preparing and driving (only by the properly qualified, of course). At the events there’s a lot of stewarding of people and vehicles required, a large element of which concerns providing context and history to the public.
The Underground hasn’t been forgotten: following the hugely successful Underground 150 anniversary celebrations in 2013, a small number of steam outings are planned on the network for 2014, requiring volunteer support. The architectural and design legacy hasn’t been forgotten either in the public programme, for example with further tours of Aldwych station. You’ll be delighted to know that I put my hand up for a number of activities!
Excerpt from The Bus We Loved; London’s affair with the Routemaster by Travis Elborough.
The Routemaster was made to measure, Savile Row tailored for the city, ‘an attractive piece of street furniture’ specifically built for London. It exemplified the highest ideals of a public-spirited passenger transport service – physical evidence that London and ordinary Londoners should have the very best. ‘A handsome city deserves a handsome transport’ as All That Mighty Heart, the London Transport film, proclaimed in 1962. We loved it, not because it was old and quirky, but because it was good. Well made. Importantly, it was greeted as an equal. It respected our custom. It was comfortable. Convenient. Efficient. We were free to get on and off, within reason, when we wanted to. ‘Passengers’ an old London transport motto maintained, ‘are our business not an interruption to our service.’
Of course it grew out of and was born into another world. The society it was created to serve was more, or more visibly, stratified. It was a world with a certain intolerance of difference; you might see in its straight rows of seats a reflection of those times. A bus built for a city known for forming orderly queues rather than for wild alcoholic sprees; for a city of parsimonious coupon-snippers rather than designer-label consumers. It’s a bus that by today’s standards can exclude (the disabled, the pushchair). But you can also see a more egalitarian spirit at work. It was designed for (nearly) everyone, and everyone aboard is equal. By its careful, skilful design, it was intended in some small was to elevate an everyday experience.
This weekend, on Saturday 15 and 16 Sunday March, the Museum Depot at Acton will be opening its doors for its bi-annual Open Weekend. A highlight of the event promises to be the attendance of Walter Hancock’s Enterprise replica steam bus. A faithful replica of the 1833 original, it will be a rare opportunity for the public to see this pioneering bus up close.
Walter Hancock’s Enterprise was built by Walter Hancock of Streatham for the London and Paddington Steam Omnibus Company. The vehicle represented the first mechanically propelled passenger bus, entering service on 22 April 1833. It ran a regular service between London Wall and Paddington via Islington and required three men to operate it: a driver, an engine man to control the water and a fireman. With the driver perched at the front and the rest of the crew positioned at the back, it must have been a challenge to communicate with each other.
Whilst the top speed was about 20mph, the Enterprise usually cruised at a comfortable 10mph. Up to 14 people could travel on the vehicle, sitting in two rows facing each other. A clever design meant that the fumes were driven away by a fan, ensuring that the exhaust was, in comparison to other steam buses, quite clean. Although others were experimenting with this technology, they tended to be noisy and dirty, with Hancock’s bus a notable exception. The Enterprise was innovative, namely thanks to its pioneering engine configuration and the fact that, unlike Stephenson’s Rocket train of the same era, the working parts were all concealed.
Although the Enterprise service was discontinued due to a dispute between Hancock and the operators, Hancock continued to build steam buses. In 1836 he introduced the famous Automaton, running over 700 journeys between the City of London and Paddington, the City of London and Islington and Moorgate and Stratford. Unfortunately, due to the poor state of the roads and opposition from a powerful horse carriage lobby, Hancock had to cease his public services. He did, however, continue to use his buses for personal use!
As well as its appearance on the Covent Garden Piazza today, the replica Enterprise will be on show and in steam at the Acton Depot Open Weekend this Saturday and Sunday. Come and see a crucial part of bus history in action as we continue to celebrate Year of the Bus. The Enterprise replica is kindly provided by Tom Brogden.
Everyone at London Transport Museum is getting excited about the restoration of the B-type bus. It will be some sight to see it driving the streets of London, and northern France and Belgium, to commemorate the beginning of the First World War. Bus drivers today require special licenses, but what was the situation over a century ago when B2737 was new in public service?
For ordinary vehicles, driving licences were introduced courtesy of the Motor Car Act in 1903. Initially issued by County authorities, it was not until 1930 that they were accompanied by competency tests. However, prospective bus drivers had to complete an extensive programme of training and testing before they were allowed on the road.
Predictably, if you wanted to drive a bus you had to fulfil the criteria for an ordinary driving licence. For example, any applicant had to be a minimum age of 21 years, have a certificate of good conduct for the preceding three years, and provide a medical certificate of personal fitness. It was down to the particular bus companies to enforce more stringent rules to assist with selection. London General Omnibus Company enforced a number of supplementary rules. It raised the minimum age, extended the good conduct requirements to five years, selected married men in preference to single men and selected men with previous driving experience in the streets of London.
Applications were made by letter and likely candidates were interviewed. If a candidate did not already possess an ordinary driving licence he was required to obtain one immediately. Subject to a successful medical, the applicant travelled down to Scotland Yard to apply for a Stage Carriage Licence (to supplement the ordinary driving licence). The police, in turn, required the equivalent of a P45 and two references.
Once these requirements were successfully negotiated, the candidate would finally go to a garage for training. However, there was still no guarantee of a job afterwards and he did not get paid. Training was spread over about five weeks, with a combination of practical and theoretical teaching. Prospective drivers learned about mechanics, road rules and driving in different environments. Once trained, drivers took police tests and the Public Carriage Licence test. If successful, the driver was finally allotted to a garage for employment where he continued to train and learn.
On Friday 21 February, Richard Peskett and his restoration team hosted an event for a range of Museum stakeholders to see the progress being made with the restoration of the Museum’s B-type bus. In attendance were key representatives from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the London Transport Museum Friends, Transport for London, bus operating companies and historians. The event was the perfect way to showcase how the restoration of the bus has progressed over the last few months.
It was also a chance to get to meet the team behind the restoration and hear more about its fascinating story. A number of discoveries have been made since the restoration began including several tickets and newspaper clippings found tucked behind an original seat in the bus body. Also in attendance was a group from the HLF, who had travelled down to take a look at the bus and to meet the apprentices who had started a few weeks before.
The Museum’s Director Sam Mullins introduced the background to the project and the Museum’s programme for the year ahead, while the restoration team spoke on a range of subjects including how the team uncovered the bus’s unique fleet number B2737 and the work to return the engine to operational working order.
Although the body had not yet been mounted onto the chassis, the visit provided us with a wonderful opportunity to see the beautiful restoration work undertaken on the chassis and the engine. It was thrilling to see parts of the vehicle which won’t be visible when the body is reinstated, such as the gear box and the engine. We were also given the opportunity to see an original seat removed from the body during the restoration, as well as the seating moquette that will be used on the new seats when they are fabricated and the fret work that will accompany them inside the body of the bus.
The event was also an opportunity for myself and Gianna Fiore, as the Battle Bus project apprentices, to witness the project for the first time. We collected feedback from the visitors and both thoroughly enjoyed the event and the chance to meet the key stakeholders in the project.
Even though it is not completed yet it was still impressive to see the bus chassis and the body mid restoration. It was the first time I had seen the bus and after weeks of hearing about it and seeing pictures it was a real thrill to see it with my own eyes. It was equally fantastic to meet the people behind the restoration and hear some of the fascinating stories unearthed during the restoration process. It was also a pleasure to meet representatives from the HLF who have funded the project, including our Project Grants Officer Laura Butcher, London Committee Member Jennifer Ullman and Wesley Kerr, Chairman of the London Committee. Having now seen the half completed bus, I can’t wait to see the bus in all its glory this summer.
Having visited Haslemere to view the progress of the restoration, Gianna couldn’t wait to get started on the upcoming project. She enjoyed the opportunity to meet all the interesting people involved in the project, incuding the project funders from the HLF (and was fortunate enough to interview some of our guests and get their views on the project.) Gianna discovered that two people had even written books about B-type buses and was excited to find one stocked in our very own library at the Museum.
Post written by Harry Young, Battle Bus Project Apprentice
The rise of motor traffic in the Edwardian era led to an unprecedented rise in accidents. Pedestrians accustomed to the slow meandering nature of horse vehicles were unprepared for the speed of new buses like the B-type. The increase in accidents sparked a number of public safety initiatives.
Starting in the 1910s, the Safety First campaign used posters to emphasise the correct behaviour passengers and pedestrians should employ when near buses. One poster strictly explained how to alight a B-type bus in a safe manner, whereas others exclaimed ‘look before you leap!’ This latter point seemed to be a common problem, as passengers were accustomed to leaping on and off transport because traditionally it had been so slow-moving. The advent of faster motor buses meant this became considerably more dangerous.
One 1915 poster underlines this problem with speed. It read ‘don’t dodge out in front of a slow moving vehicle unless you have made sure that a fast moving vehicle is not overtaking it’. Graphic drawings and photographic mock-ups of accidents were used as a shock tactic to encourage people to act safely.
The staff magazine of the time, called Train Omnibus Tram (TOT), also expressed the importance of Safety First and of being cautious while using the transport network. Photos from training classes show instructional Safety First posters plastering classroom walls, and there were awards for drivers whose record was free from accidents.
Safety is still a high priority for Transport for London. It runs a programme, based at London Transport Museum, called Safety and Citizenship which aims to promote safe and responsible behaviour amongst young people on London’s transport system. The team visit schools across London, organising activities to improve understanding of safety on the network. Transport for London also runs a continuous safety marketing campaign. Although today’s messages may have slightly different priorities, the notion of responsible behaviour as originally described in the initial ‘Safety First’ campaign is still relevant today.
The year of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground has been the most remarkable year for London Transport Museum since we opened in Covent Garden over thirty years ago.
The organisation of the associated celebratory events and projects was a massive undertaking. From the planning of a public programme based on a new social history of the Underground, the undertaking of two innovative restoration projects – Metropolitan loco no.1 and Jubilee carriage 353 – and the operation of steam hauled special services within the original London Underground tunnels of 1863 to arguably the Museum’s most extensive special exhibition, Poster 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs, in newly extended galleries. All of this, along with the opening of the disused station at Aldwych throughout November, was delivered with huge success to record audiences. Indeed, Tube150 provoked broad public interest in London, well beyond the rail enthusiast, and this was echoed by worldwide press coverage. The Underground’s own reputation soared to a new high in January 2013 and throughout the year the Museum experienced record levels of patronage for visits, corporate events, fundraising, retail, online trading and access.
In December 2013, a remarkable year was crowned by the Heritage Railway Association making its premier award to the Museum and Transport for London (TfL). That the Peter Manisty Award should be given to the busiest metro in the world is a reflection on just what was achieved in 2013. When did an operating railway, let alone one of the world’s busiest metros, win industry and public recognition for such an enlightened attitude to its heritage? During the year, the steam trains have run over 350 miles and conveyed nearly 10,000ticket holders, guests and staff in a self-funded service with no delays to the travelling public. Only an organisation confident in its abilities and respectful of its unique heritage could have encouraged us to work through the myriad of operational constraints to operate steam amongst service trains. This was achieved by a team drawn from a number of areas in the Underground – timetabling, line operations, test crew drivers, rolling stock, heritage trains – and to such a professional degree that there was no interruption to the service.
This award-winning year is no flash in the pan. Having built up such momentum and expertise within the Museum and Underground team, 2014 will see another busy programme of steam-hauled events on Underground metals. The Bluebell’s Ashbury set will return in August 2014 for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Hammersmith & City line’s opening in 1864. Met no.1, the milk van, carriage 353 and the Bluebell rake will run on two Saturdays, 2nd and 9th August, from Hammersmith into Moorgate and back. The following weekend, 16 and17th August, steam will take over the Chesham branch for the first time since 1962. Steam services will run from Rickmansworth, with the replacement bus service for the branch being complimented by a heritage bus service.
Tube150 has broadened and deepened support for our Museum. Delighted with the profile of the anniversary, TfL has asked us to similarly programme with them for future years, starting with a Year of the Bus in 2014, sponsored by Exterion Media. The success of the year has deepened our relationship with sponsors such as Cubic, Siemens and the former CBSO, and funders such as Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council, and created new relationships with over two hundred individual donors. We are translating this support into a new Patrons Circle and aiming it initially towards our Battlebus project, with the restored B2737 to participate in the commemoration of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War later in 2014.
As we move from Tube150 into the Year of the Bus, we can reflect on the power of well planned and meticulously delivered heritage events in central London to engage Londoners and to attract external sponsorship. In June 2014, we will bring a cavalcade of historic buses to Regents Street, a unique gathering of 25 vehicles dating from 1908 to the New Routemaster, to mark the contribution of the motor bus to London since 1898. We will deliver a range of community events at bus garages around London, present fresh insights into London during the First World War in our Goodbye Piccadilly – from the home front to the Western Front exhibition from May and return our restored B-type bus to Flanders in September and October as part of the centenary commemorations.