London Transport Museum

I've wanted to go to the London Transport Museum for a long time. I'm not even that sure why. Maybe once I saw something on TV about it and it inspired me. Whatever the reason, I'm very into social history. Keep your monarchs and your battles, it's all about the common folk for me. So an exploration of the way people have travelled around London for the past 200 years? Yes please! Vintage routemaster bus

As we'd travelled to London with South West Trains, we were eligible for 2-for-1 entry at the museum (bear in mind you'll need to fill in a voucher first). The ticketing in this situation is organised so that one person gets a day ticket and the other gets an annual pass, allowing them to return as much as they like for free. Not bad for £16! 
London bus destinations
We found the layout of the museum really confusing. When you enter, you pretty much walk out into the end of the route, meaning we started our trip in the wrong place. To reach the start, you need to turn the corner and take the lift up to the top floor, but the only sign indicating this was actually at the lift. Once we'd finally worked this out, we were subjected to the most terrifying lift ascension ever. Sounds of what I can only assume is travelling back in time is pumped into the small space and it seems to take forever to climb two floors. I was very relieved when the doors finally opened and placed us in 1800s London.
Creepy museum mannequin
On this top floor, we learn about travelling in the 19th century. There are a couple of examples of omnibuses, one of which you can board and sit inside, alongside some very questionable mannequins. This floor is pretty small and I didn't find the information here particularly engaging which is a shame as Victorian London is my thang. Instead, I started telling Rich this little piece of trivia that has worked its way into my mind: The first person to be killed in London in 1888 (the year of Jack the Ripper) was a lady who was hit by an omnibus in late December 1887. There was severe rivalry between the two main omnibus companies and they competed to travel the fastest. On this fateful day, a driver from one company saw a bus from the other pull up to allow passengers to depart. This driver raced onwards to beat his competitor, failing to notice that the alighting passenger was crossing the road in front of the horse. By the time he spotted her, it was too late to stop and she died from her injuries just past midnight on 1st January 1888. Rich thinks this is a weird thing to know in such detail. I disagree.  
Vintage London underground map Vintage train carriage Ladies only carriage
At the opposite end of this floor is another lift which takes you down for the 20th century. This was much more my scene. One side of this storey is dominated by a real steam train engine and carriage, which has one compartment open for you to sit inside. The original maps and adverts are still in place above the seats and at the end is the ladies carriage. As this train was going to Rickmansworth, it looks like the carriage is for "Rickman's ladies only", which is a train I am all too happy to board!
Post office tube station Charing Cross Underground Station 1900s
Here we learned about the history of the underground, which was originally pulled by steam engines and was divided into four classes- first, second, third and workers. The latter was a cheaper fare enforced by Parliament for people who had to use early-morning trains for work. They even had a changing "next station" indicator like we do today, although these were operated by the guard pulling a cord and were notoriously unreliable.
Vintage bus blinds London
After finding out about Metroland- the suburbs that were created by the rail company at the same time as the expansion of the Metropolitan Railway- we descended to the ground floor for the 21st century/ design/ buses/ miscellaneous exhibits. This was where things went a little awry. I figured that as it was the first day back at school, it would be quiet. I was wrong. There were screaming children everywhere. Literally screaming. It was hell. 
Vintage London bus stop London bus driver dress code uniform Albert Edward Plummer
Annoying children aside, there were some really interesting exhibits here. A whole range of buses were on display, some of which you could climb up to the top deck (although we didn't because children everywhere), and real glimpses into the lives of those who worked on the transport system, such as bus drivers' uniforms and the license of a 1910s driver with an impressive moustache. A 1970s tube carriage was open for you to board and the cutest, most polite brother and sister were in here at the same time. The boy, who must have been about 3, insisted on being the driver and taking us all to Thomasland. So adorable! Here were displays of lost property, train tickets from the 1950s up to 2007 presented in the shape of an underground map according to the destination, and 90s commercial grab handles shaped like cans of Pepsi, Creme Eggs and Vaseline bottles.
1970s London underground advert Robophone 1970s London underground map Northern Line London underground font London underground logo design
With this, we departed back into the room where we had accidentally started and had a drink in the cafe upstairs before heading off. I learned a lot in the museum, despite the hoards of kids, and will definitely be back with my annual pass. Hopefully at a quieter time! 
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  1. I have a weird obsession with the London Underground, particularly the history and the "ghost" stations. There's a website - it's called Hidden Underground or Underground History or something like that - which takes you through each of them in turn and I have literally read it in its entirety. It's way more exciting than the Glasgow Subway, which only has 15 stations and pretty much just goes round in a big circle...

    Anyway, your linking out to Wikipedia for the Metroland thing will probably send me spiralling into a big research hole again tonight. Thanks for that ;)

    Lis / last year's girl x

  2. I lived in London for a year and never went to the transport museum because I literally couldn't afford £16 for something! I'm coming down in August (although I just realised that's prime summer holiday time in England! Dammit!)
    This looks like it would be right up my street so thanks for sharing!

  3. This looks like such a fun museum! It's so cool to see the transformation of things over the years!

  4. It looks so interesting! I catch the train into London during the week and sometimes the trains (if I can bear it!) and it's just crazy to think how it's all changed and been modernised now x

    Everything But The Kitchen

  5. This actually sounds really interesting! I've never been that fussed about this museum despite walking past it all the time, but this makes me think I should give it a go!

    Nicola //

  6. I didn't even know this existed, I am so going to have to visit next time I am in London!

    Meme xx

    New Post:
    A Day In The Life Of London


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