Newest Review: ... and logic as to how and why this symbol was created is shown. An area where you sit on a bench with interactive video screens showing... more
Next Stop... Covent Garden!
London Transport Museum (London)
Member Name: T4imbo3107
London Transport Museum (London)
Date: 16/03/10, updated on 17/03/10 (157 review reads)
Advantages: History of the transport infrastructure.
Disadvantages: Makes you realise what has been lost.
Situated in Covent Garden Piazza on the eastern side, the London Transport Museum resides in the old Covent Garden Fruit and Veg Market. The Fruit Market moved to newer accommodation at Nine Elms Lane in the late seventies and as part of the regeneration of the area the building became the London Transport Museum which opened in 1980.
Twinned with the London Transport reserve in Acton the Museum is the customer facing show piece for seeing the various types of transportation that London used to have and to some extent will have in the future as the Museum covers all aspects of travel within the capital. From an historical point of view all means of transport are covered from horse drawn Buses to Trams from the fifties to the modern day Trams that run in the Croydon area as well as the vast displays of Underground trains that you are able to board and sit in.
The museum has recently re-opened after a multi million pound facelift that has really opened up the place with the ability to show far more vehicles and items than previously and also the addition of a new film hall that allows visitors and alike to be able to attend presentations and shows in complete comfort. Something that has seen this being used for public events and private functions.
If you just think of the scope of London Transport then the size is overwhelming, from Trains, Buses, Tubes, Trams, Riverboats and even Taxi's the whole thing has to be represented here in the Museum and this is where the Museum excels as areas of the building are presented in granular detail as to the history and the working of the network. For example the London Transport Roundel has changed very little of the last seventy years as a design and is easily recognisable throughout the world as representing London. Within the Museum the thought processes and logic as to how and why this symbol was created is shown. An area where you sit on a bench with interactive video screens showing small featurettes about six minutes in length really do draw you in and show you the evolution of the symbol as well as the specialised font that London Transport used.
It's the same amount of detail that is used in other areas as well, a good example being the Trams that were removed from London's streets back in 1952. The Museum has a couple on displays that look absolutely remarkable to see with the sheer size as both have two decks. You can jump on board these and although these don't move and are stationary, it gives you an idea of what it must have been like to travel on these back in the time. Again interactive screens give a back history and show the routes that the Trams took even telling you as the viewer about the long missed Kingsway Underpass that was specifically built to allow Trams to have a dedicated path to get to and from Embankment quicker. On the flipside it's a shame that you see these as you do realise exactly how much the city has changed over the years with the removal of Trams as today this would have been the ultimate in eco- friendly transportation in a big city like London and although there are pictures and footage of the last Tram ending its duty, it is with sadness that you see the people watching this event happen.
Looking at the other areas, the Buses were proving to be a great attraction as the older style models such as the Routemaster were attracting a lot of attention as was the One Man Operated (OMO) Double Deckers as well. I guess its because the children today wont remember anything that was specifically designed to do a job and gave London a unique identity to carry people about with. As with all the other displays the Buses and even the Trolleybuses were placed so that you could get a good look and compare the various models, with mannequins added to the seating or the drivers cab to give them some life rather than being seen in a completely empty state. It also has to be said that the Buses seem to be well looked after as well as the full redness of the Bus was seen in a highly polished paint work and this made the display look even better.
To add an extra dimension to the Underground area, actors were bought in to play various roles of the people who worked on the Underground. One of them being a man in the early 1900's who was a worker digging the tunnels by hand. I found this to be a better way of understanding the scale of the job than watching a piece of media. The man went into a lot of detail describing to the ten or so people around him the scale of the work that a team of nine men had to do. This really struck me as the conditions were far from good being underground in a hot damp environment for up to 16 hours a day. The displays for the Underground are amazing as this includes rolling stock dating back over eighty years and also the chance to see what happens in a tunnel with points being changed. One thing to add here is that there is also an interesting piece about escalators, now you may think that these are boring pieces of equipment, but when you find out some facts about them then they do become quite interesting to read about.
There is also an on-site information area that has a plethora of information available just be searching by computer, this includes posters that were used for advertising at stations or the testing of new styles of bus shelters. It amazed me at the vast depth that this went in and the amount of information available to a person visiting the museum.
Finally there is an area that shows the future for London Transport as a whole. This includes Crossrail as well as potential extensions to the Docklands Light Railway and the Tramlink. It also highlights the eco aspect as well and shows how better for the environment that travelling by train can be when compared to travelling by car and for me this was an aspect that wasn't shown enough at all. Interestingly there are areas of the Museum showing how London Transport has been instilled into fiction with the most well known being the use of LT in comics such as the Eagle where the various Monorails were used in stories. This made an interesting comparison as the Eagle was from the 1950's attempting to predict the transport methods of the 21st Century. It would have been nice to see some the designs become reality; however they were well wide of the mark completely!
Overall this is a great way to spend an afternoon, I personally found it easy to spend the day here as there is a Coffee shop and the obligatory Gift Shop that I have to say I was very impressed by with the range of items for sale as well as the range of books. I didn't find anything tacky or even that much over-priced at all and considering the size which for a gift shop is enormous then this is a good place to find a gift.
What makes this different from most of the Museums I have visited is that this is something that to me is tangible and something that I have grown up with. I can remember a lot of the Buses running and to see the professional manner with how the displays have been presented as well as the immaculate condition that the vehicles from all areas of London Transport have been cared for really does bring it down to earth as to just how big the infrastructure is and how much it has changed with new technology. This really does show the varied and quite colourful history of a Transport network that has catered for London for well over a 100 years.
Entrance prices are £10 for adults and children who are under 16 get in free!
Summary: A great place to spend some time.
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