“ Covent Garden Piazza, WC2. 24 hour Info: +44 (0)20 7565 7299 Administration and general enquires: +44 (0)20 7379 6344 Group bookings line: +44 (0)20 7565 7298 Shop line: +44 (0)20 7565 7295 Mail order line: +44 (0)20 7565 7294. London has the oldest publi „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Museum of Transport is not somewhere I would have chosen to visit as I have no interest in transport and cars and it just seems boring to me, personally. The reason I ended up going was because it was part of a London trip to start of my art foundation course, our first project was to design a London transportation poster so we visited a variety of museums in London and this was the first and most obvious one.
We luckily didn't have to pay for tickets as it was part of our trip already, however I have just read online that tickets cost £13.50 but this does give admission for a year and under 16s are free, there is also a discount for senior citizens and student card holders but these are valid for a day. I do think £13.50 is a little much as the museum isn't that big, it is fairly modern looking compared to most other museums but I think it would be a fairer price at about £7-£8.
You are given a choice of two maps, one normal one and simpler one for children, we were given both for design references for art blah blah, I think there may have been an activity on the childrens one, I can't remember! The first floor of the museum is buses, there are really old style buses and trams. I really liked the trams as they are interesting to look at and are covered in advertisements that would have been around during the time they were about. Around the walls by these were conductor uniforms and badges in glass cases that explained about them all. Being a conductor/driver back then looks much more of a priviledge than nowadays, plus the uniforms are much nicer looking! There were not too many buses, an old one and a very new modern one which you could sit in the drivers seat and pretend you were the driver which makes for a classic, London tourist style picture, which of course we all took!
Off to the right are a few rooms, one small room which was about subways and how you could pretend you were driving one of these and the floor lit up which was another fun photo opportunity and definitly a great interactive part for kids. The next room was my favourite as it was all about the design for parts of the tube through the decades. Different transport logos are projected onto the floor and the walls are full of different designs. These include tiles in the tube stations, patterns on the seats and many of the transportation posters which are not all on show but can be found on the website. The ones from the 20s are probably my personal favourite. There are also different design campaigns that have been exhibited in the Tate too.
The next small room is a large tram/train decorated inside as it would have been in the 20s (I think...?) and the walls are covered in more posters, this room was a little boring but it was full of more information more about the engineering side of transportation so I didn't pay much attention. There are little interactive things such as a bell to ring too.
Then moving onto the next floor is a long train, each carriage changes to different decade style that show how the design and fonts change through history. Unfortunately you are not allowed inside which I think would make it more interesting. The different carriage designs is carried on round the other side which leads you onto the next set of stairs. Also on this floor though, is a small seating area (for tired parents I'm guessing!) and some pull out draws that show different types of bus passes and tickets through the ages, I really liked these as they were very interesting and showed a huge variety of designs. They are all must more interesting than our simplistic modern bus tickets nowadays!
The top floor is the smallest and is a collection of small trams and horse buses with fake horses and people aboard. I found this part the most boring as everything was starting to get fairly repetitive but they were heavily decorated which did make them interesting to look at.
The rest of the museum is full of even more transport posters and information. There is a small playpen for young kids with a really big activity table that was a mini London map with wooden buses and trains. Although this was for kids I thought this was a really nice design feature and I took pictures of it for me project.
The last thing we looked at was the giftshop which was fairly large, it had all the usual museum merchandise but was priced quite high, however I think this was okay as most of the products seemed like Paperchase standard and I wouldn't be surprised if they stocked similar items. Most items of course had a transport or London theme like Tube maps, buses, buses and things saying 'Keep Calm and Carry On.' There was a large amount of postcards that featured different transport poster designs or vehicles which came in handy to refer to or just serve as good postcards. The museum also has an eating area which would be great for school trips and a cafe but we didn't use these facilities so can't comment here!
I did get a little bored of the museum after a while but this is probably due to the fact we were there for four hours doing observation studies and it is fairly small. However, overall I would say I enjoyed the transport museum but only from a design perspective, my favourite part being the actual design room! I would highly recommend the museum to students doing art&design/graphics/engineering courses or for a typical London tourist visit and to people or children with an interest in transport or engineering.
Having two boys, naturally days out tend to be boy orientated, and this is definitely a boy's day out!!
Both my boys loved it, and I do find it hard to find things both boys will enjoy having a twenty month old and a nine year old. The prices I found very reasonable. They accept cash and all major debit and credit cards.
The prices are:
Adults £13.50; concessions £10.00 and children under 16 are free and children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. As an added bonus individual tickets excluding free entry tickets are valid for twelve months so you can visit as often as you would like with that time for no addition charge. Also an essential carer is also free with any registered disabled visitor, which I thought was fantastic. The concession price applies to senior citizens, students and those in receipt of state benefits. Due to recent renovation, every floor is accessible via ramp or lift which makes this museum great for anyone with mobility problems, this in my opinion has made this an even better place to visit and a more enjoyable experience.
The museum is open Monday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 10:00-18:00 (last admission 17:15) Friday 11:00-18:00 (last admission 17:15). The museum shop is open Sunday - Tuesday 10:00 - 18:30 Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 10:00 - 19:00
Friday 11:00 - 19:00
There is a cafe called the Upper deck cafe which is open Sunday - Tuesday 10:00 - 18:30
Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 10:00 - 19:00 Friday 11:00 - 19:00.
The museum building is a listed building and inside is beautiful with Victorian ironwork and huge arched windows reminiscent of a Victorian train station, it really does help with the whole feel of the place. They have got it spot on. A perfect mix of old and new.
There are facilities also for you to eat a packed lunch, so this museum would be good for a wet day as it is all undercover. The picnic area has tables and chairs and you are able to buy tea, coffee and cakes. There is also a little table with a train set on for little ones to play trains which my twenty month old loved, only trouble is getting them to come away...lol!! You can sit having your picnic and a cup of tea looking at the beautiful old buses and taxi. Alternatively if you wish you can always eat in the many cafe and restaurants in Covent Garden, there is a huge choice.
There are beautiful steam trains and carriages from the forties; it's a shame they are not like that today. You can have pictures taken in some of the exhibits like a horse bus and an old train carriage; you can even climb up some of the old tram stairs which is a little challenging for me let alone a little one; as you would expect the majority of exhibits are unable to be accessed for preservation reasons. There is so much to see and if the kids keep their ticket there are numbered stamps throughout the museum for them to punch there tickets.
There is an exhibit about the building of the underground which my kids found fascinating as we had travelled there on the tube, so they could see things that were familiar and that they could relate too. On the way home they were pointing out things and talking about what they had learned.
The Mezzanine Level 1 is brilliant it has a bridge across and you get a beautiful view over the lower floor, the sides are transparent so my little one could see it all too. He thought this was brilliant as he is bitterly independent and didn't want to be held in order to be able to see.
There are also train and tube simulators for you to have a go at driving which was among the highlights of the day. The boys got to `drive` replica buses too, if you do decide on a visit don't forget your camera, this place is photo opportunity after photo opportunity. I got some beautiful photos. We went with another family with older boys aged fourteen and sixteen and they also found the museum extremely good. They also have a little dress up area with old bus drivers and conductor's jackets unfortunately they were too small for my oldest and my youngest wasn't interested. Although my older son spent ages building his own truck which he thoroughly enjoyed. My son liked to pretend to fall down a fake escalator as I took a picture.
There are plenty of toilets including disabled access toilets and baby changing facilities which is brilliant.
On exit you go through the shop which sells a huge range transport related items. They have some wonderful items but as you would expect from this type of attraction the prices are rather steep. So we made do with a pencil and notebook for my oldest and a plastic duck for the bath for my youngest, the total was around £12.00 but unfortunately the receipt has gotten mislaid so I can't be more accurate, sorry. They do sell some amazing items though and they accept cash and all major credit and debit cards. The products we bought were of good quality however so I have no real complaints on this score and the duck went straight in the bath on returning home and is now a must at bath time...lol!
The nearest underground station is Covent Garden, which is on the Piccadilly line. On exiting the station turn right toward the plaza, if the weather is fine there is a huge array of street performers to entertain you on the way, just don't get too close or you might become part of the act...lol!
When you get to the plaza the London Transport Museum is round to the left, just follow the plaza round. It is just before you reach the market.
Highly recommended day out, we had a fantastic day and I am sure that this museum would be perfect for anyone, young or old; you are bound to love it. Reminisce or learn more, whichever you want to do.
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!
The London Transport Museum occupies a prime space in the heart of Covent Garden and is an attractive building that manages to remain true to the historical architecture of the surroundings, while achieving a certain degree of modern and functional design.
We decided to pay a visit as my girlfriend was able to track down free corporate passes to visit this attraction that seemed like a good idea for an afternoon out in one of our favourite parts of London.
Ticket prices were: adults £10; senior citizens £8; students £6.00 and children under 16 get in for free. This is a nice touch, as it means that this is obviously a perennially popular destination for families and rightly so, as the chance to experience the 'olde worlde' charm of London's historic mediums of transport will largely appeal to the little 'uns and adults with an interest in transport systems...
*Arriving at the museum*
The Museum sits in a fairly narrow space, although there are several easily accessible floors that can be reached by lifts (important for visitors with mobility concerns). Once we'd handed over our passes and received our tickets, the (very friendly) staff handed over a map. At first glance a map seems somewhat unnecessary, as the museum isn't that big. Moments later (lost in the gift shop), we decided that maybe it was a good idea after all.
The museum starts with a surprisingly long and uninspiring walk to the lifts, obviously designed to keep pedestrian speed to a minimum for when they're crowded. If they weren't crowded, however, on the Saturday lunchtime of a bank holiday weekend, I wonder when they are? This is a very small gripe and they obviously have to work with the building that they have.
*A top down view of London's public transport past*
The lifts take you up to the second floor, where a small selection of well constructed exhibits themed around 19th century public transport (as it was). There were a selection of covered and open carriages and a horse drawn tram - I couldn't help but pity the poor horses!
There was some interesting social history on display, including a short narrated segment on the tiring life and times of an ageing 19th century 'bus' driver. The current generation of transport workers probably wouldn't strike nearly as often as they seem to in London if they heard what working life was like for this poor chap!
We followed the stairs down and the next floor held a small collection of more modern buses etc. and some interactive games for children, as well as a lot of well presented memorabilia, transport art etc. - all hidden away in slide-drawer cases where a good 50% of visitors probably don't even realise it's available. Minimalism can be a bad thing and I'm sure that there are more creative ways to display this art.
*At last! Some 'real' exhibits!*
Somewhat underwhelmed, we continued down the stairs to the ground floor, where the main collections sit. On this level there are buses from throughout London's past, various train carriages and some fascinating short insights into the past of the London underground. These were fun, as it was amusing to compare and contrast then and now and take photos. Sadly for us for camera battery had died the moment I entered the Museum, which was a shame.
As well as the exhibits, some of which it was possible to explore to an understandably limited event, there was a hearty collection of poster art, several generations worth of signage from the railways and some fairly comprehensive writeups explaining the development of public transport in London (as well as a small cafe).
While this was all well and good, it only takes a few minutes to sit in some carriages, admire the art deco posters and think to yourself 'oh-kaaay, another underground sign....'
I suspect that children (bar the most precocious) might enjoy the exhibits for a short spell, but would no doubt be less interested in the signs etc. and wouldn't give a hoot about the actual history of the vehicles. In addition to this, the fact that there is limited access to the vehicles might frustrate the very young.
Various children were taking part in short exercises (tracing the history of the underground, for example), but it seems that there's a very limited age group who would fit into this category.
The gift shop was well stocked (if transport is your thing) and items ranged from the cheap and cheerful to ridiculously expensive souvenirs, small pieces of furniture and 'collectables' (although in my highly subjective opinion I'm not sure how many people get a thrill from collecting die cast bus models!) There were certainly some nice gifts and without meaning to sound like a philistine, the gift shop was the highlight of the day. We may need to go back and buy some posters...
*Oh how the time (doesn't) fly!*
Leaving the Museum into the bright sunshine of Covent Garden, a mere 40 minutes had passed. Now I will be honest and admit that my girlfriend and I aren't huge museum fans. We are, however, interested in history and take the time to read exhibits and appreciate what's on offer. The fact that we'd 'got through' in such a short space of time makes me think that:
a) There wasn't really that much to see
b) The exhibits failed to hold our attention
Or perhaps a combination of the two? I can't help but feel that the museum is a nice idea, but that the range is somewhat limited. We've enjoyed other transport museums (Glasgow's, for example) considerably more and this felt like a bit of a let down.
If I was a parent with 2 or 3 kids this place might seem like a draw, but if I was an adult who had paid the £10 admission fee I would have been somewhat disappointed and certainly wouldn't be making a return visit.
I recently went to The London Transport museum on a school trip with my year 5s (age 9-10). At first I was unsure whether they would be too old for it or if the girls in particular would be bored after a while- FROM THE REACTION OF THE CLASS WHEN THEY FOUND OUT WHERE THEY WERE GOING.
At the entrance we were all given a card that had space for 13 stamps to collect throughout the museum, this really kept them entertained! the stamps were in all areas of the museum which meant you were sure you hadnt missed anything at the end of the day, the way they were situated also meant that you were looking at transport through the years in the correct order, finishing with how transport may be in the future. This card is for everyone too, not just schools.
There is lots of hands on things, buttons to press, buses and trains to go on and lots of lfe-like displays.
we were allocated a schools picnic area but there is also a large allocated area for members of the public to eat their picnic and the good thing is it is in the centre of the museum not in the basement or miles from anything else like other museums. There is also a cafe if you prefer, however i can not comment on this as i did not visit it.
There is a shop and it was great to see a big selection of souveniers at less than £2, there was even a little tube train that was only £0.50, ideal for childrens pocket money.
I was so impressed with it that last week i went again, this time with my 3 year old little boy and 5 year old nephew, and I have to say although my class had a great time, the boys REALLY liked it! there is a play area for under 6s where you can drive interactice buses and trains.There was also special summer holiday activities going on for no extra cost.
Children are free adults are £10 but that includes a £2 voluntary giftaid. I chose to opt out of this as did many others making it £8 and there was no guilt trip as a consequence!!
well worth a visit, it is in a central location too so there is lots to do before/after the museum.
Transport is in my blood. My father was a bus driver and is obsessed by most things that have wheels and moves. Trains, buses, cars, and lorries, you name it he has videos, books and models of them. I've caught the bug and become a bit of a London Underground junkie being fascinated by the history and development of this much maligned transport system. I have become such a geek I recently took a one day course on the Art and Architecture of London Transport. This was held in the subject for this review, the newly reopened London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.
I have been to a number of Transport museum such as the tram museum at Critch and the Glasgow Transport Museum but the London one had so far eluded me. Housed in the old Victorian Ffower market the museum has had a 22.5 million face lift and relaunch. The museum is a fascinating account of how London transport developed from horse drawn trams to the DLR. I visited on a very busy and noisy Saturday in March.
The London Transport Museum is fairly easy to find. It is in the heart of Covent Garden very near the main marketplace. The easiest way to get to it is via underground. Just get the Piccadilly Line to Covent Garden (one of my least favourite stations, as it gets so crowded). You can also get a wide variety of buses to the Strand or Trafalgar Square and it is just a five minute walk from there.
The good news for all parent is that this gem of a museum is free of charge for children. I am not a parent but appreciate days out in London can be very expensive. I would say it is moderately priced for others. Adults are £8 and £6.50 for senior citizens. This might be a lot more expensive than some of the major museums but is a lot cheaper than say Madam Tussuads or the Tower of London.
It is open from 10: to 18:00 everyday except Friday where it also has evening opening hours. Perhaps Friday evening, which would be ideal for those with a more serious interest in the collections or those who want to play without children getting in the way!
On entering the museum you are given a map, which I found fairly useful although I found it difficult to locate specific exhibitions such as the Design Gallery. The map also included a trail for children to follow where they could stamp their map at a number of different pasts scattered around the museum,. This was a nice interactive touch without relying too much on fancy technology.
The museum starts by introducing Public Transport around the World, however that can be skipped quite easily to get on to the more exciting displays. A lift takes you back to the Victorian era and the days of horses and steam complete with train whistles and other sounds of the erra. This level is dominated by vintage horse drawn trams and omnibuses. I was particularly interested to see one of was the London to Greenwich route. I am not sure I would like to have traveled by one of these, as it must have been fairly slow. The actual vehicles really are the stars of the museum and seemed popular with old and young, male and female. Dotted around the vehicles were displays about the rise and fall of other transport such as the railways and river transport.
The museum is arranged chronologically so it was down a flight of stairs to the birth of the underground including the only surviving steam powered underground train complete with a Ladies only carriage. I could not get near it to see how it compared comfort wise with a modern underground train, as families quite happily sat there experiencing an old fashioned trains. On this floor, like in most museums there was also a resource centre with computers and various publications for those interested in doing further research. I could see myself using this to exp;ore the topics I am interested in greater detail.
During the revamp a human dimension was added to the galleries with social history added to the exhibits where possible to get away from pure machinery. This works by adding people's stories and memories of each of the vehicles where possible for those interested in the social side of Transport. Alongside this was a section devoted to the transport network's role in the rise of suburbia and "Metroland". This was interpreted effectively as a 1930s living room complete with old fashioned TV and comfortable coaches with speakers in the headsets. I found this interesting but I'm not sure how many others were sitting there for the information or just resting in between vehicles. I also enjoyed a simple exhibition of advertising posters for the underground, as there are some beautiful ones. There really is something for just about everyone .
The main exhibition space is on the ground floor with a number of iconic vehicles such as the Routemaster bus and more underground trains. Behind these were more specialist areas include the Design Gallery outlining the development of London Transport's identity. This was a ore traditional are with items in cases and was slightly quieter . There was also an exhibition on London Transport during the World Wars. I had a brief look at this gallery but felt I knew a lot about this so quickly left. At the end was a section on recent and possible future developments that rounded up London Transport's story quite nicely.
The museum uses a number of techniques to interpret London Transport's story from the full size vehicles to interpretation boards, pull out drawers and multi media audio visuals. I found the drawers to be very interesting and they were nicely labeled to make you think. I found some of the audio visuals just too much especially a projection of the underground map onto the floor of the design Gallery. I just felt it did not serve a purpose unlike an animated diagram of the Underground map showing the changes throughout the years from the 1860s to the present day.
I would really recommend London Transport Museum to parents, as it is a very child friendly museum. As stated the vehicles themselves will always be the main attraction as you can go inside them. There were also nice dioramas and mock ups of recent underground trains, oyster card machines and a new double decker bus. There's also a nice little section especially for primary school children with dressing up clothes and a interactive where they could drive around the sites of ,London. There were plenty of buttons to press, perhaps to many as I did see children just pressing them without being particularly interested in the message gained from the activity.
One thing I liked about the museum was that it was fairly compact. There is plenty to see and do but not too much to cause museum fatigue. I spent about an hour and a half in th museum looking at the exhibits. I think on a quieter day I would have lingered longer and perhaps tried more of the interactives out.
On exit you find yourself in the museum shop. This can be accessed without visiting the galleries. The ground floor of the shop was dedicated to branded merchandise with the tube map on everything from boxer shorts to mouse mats. There was also a very good selection of model buses for collectors. I know where to go to source presents for my dad in future. Upstairs was the serious side with a vast selection of books and posters. I felt this section was of interest for the transport enthusiast and could see my Dad having a whale of a time finding books and DVDs of things of interest to him.
There are two on site cafes. One of them is on the ground floor of the exhibition site selling prepacked organic sandwiches, wraps and children's boxes (nothing hot and certainly no chicken nuggets and chips). These were reasonably priced at around about the £2 to £3 mark. There is al;o the Upper Deck cafe bar adjacent to the shop. This was pricier with a sandwich roughly about £6. I sat down to get something and walked straight out as it was a bit dear for me.
Parents will also be happy to know there are plenty of toilets facilities that are fairly easy to find and fairly clean. The museum is pushchair and wheelchair friendly a it is equipped with lifts and sloped ramps.
All in all I think the money on the revamp has been well spent. I enjoyed my visit to the museum and felt that if I had children I would certainly take them there as it is extremely child friendly due to the hands on nature of the museum and the fact it is free for under 18s. I am nor sure I will make a repeat visit for a while unless there were any lectures or talks of interest due to the £8 entry fee. It seems to be a fairly static collection with few special exhibitions. But I would be interested in seeing their main archives in Acton where the majority of their collection is held.
39 Wellington Street
London, WC2E 7BB
The London Transport Museum recently completed a large scale root and branch refurbishment and reopened towards the end of 2007. I know this because I walk past it every day on the way to work and could witness the inch by inch progress being made over the last year.
The LT Museum always had a reputation as a good place to visit. One of the first museums to offer a wide range of interactive exhibits it has always been a popular attraction, enhanced by its excellent location. However, despite again working on its doorstep a dozen years ago I have never previously been tempted to visit. I mean, it's just a bunch of trains and buses isn't it and I see enough of those commuting. Having children has changed my attitude though, and when the opportunity came recently to have a family day out this was near the top of the list.
The museum is in the heart of Covent Garden, overlooking the market buildings. The nearest mainline station is Charing Cross about ten minutes walk away and by tube you'll want to aim for Covent Garden on the Piccadilly Line. Leicester Square and Holborn stations are also within walking distance.
Driving isn't recommended due to the central location but there are NCP car parks close by if you need them.
London Transport Museum
Covent Garden Piazza
020 7379 6344
Saturday to Thursday 10.00 to 18.00 (last admission 17.15)
Friday 11.00 to 21.00 (last admission 20.15)
Adults £8; Senior Citizens £6.50; Students £5.00
Freedom Pass holders and Under 16's free
London Transport Museum has wheelchair access to all galleries, Shop and Café. There are lifts to all floors and many of the exhibits are sunk into the ground to allow wheeled access through the carriages and so on. There are ramps for all short drops and the gangways are plenty wide enough for manoeuvring buggies and chairs.
What will you see~
Set over three floors the museum shows the history of public transport in London over the last two hundred years. The journey starts as you take the lift from the entrance to the top floor.
This unheralded introduction is quite clever but easy to miss. In the lift you are meant to feel like you are travelling back in time, news headlines coming through the speakers tell of the death of Princess Diana, Armstrong walking on the moon, peace in our time and so on until the doors open and you see horse drawn omnibuses. However by the time you twig what's going on it's over.
The big displays here are two omnibuses dating from the early nineteenth century, one running on wheels and the other on rails. This is not a big area but there are many panels giving lots of information about early public transport. There are several things to do here but unfortunately you can't climb on the displays beyond the foot plates.
Taking the lift or stairs down to the middle floor you find a larger area showing the history of the underground. There are plenty of big exhibits from early steam trains to the modern Docklands Light Railway. Can you imagine steam trains on the underground; according to newspaper clippings it was as unpleasant as it sounds. Most incarnations of tube carriages are here and all can be entered. There are more interactive activities and some excellent models showing how the first tunnels were built; dig a big hole in the road, lay some track and cover. The big draw here is the opportunity to drive a train, albeit on a simulator, and this proved to be very popular and the only time we encountered any queues.
Across an elevated walkway there is a learning resource centre with an information desk, computers and classroom. There is also a cutaway modern hopper bus and a dressing up area. Fans of Underground Ernie will love this and I can imagine it getting crowded at busier times.
There is an area showing the history of art and design on the underground which I found very interesting. Your opinion of London Transport will largely be determined on whether you use it on a regular basis or not. If you have to endure the over heated, over crowded underground you probably aren't going to come over all misty eyed about it, but step back from that and there is a lot that is quite impressive in its history.
Like many things that came out of the Victorian age, London's transport system set the standards that would be followed around the world. Beyond the heavy civil engineering there is a wealth of architecture, art and graphic design that is equally impressive and original. Many suburban tube stations are now listed buildings and represent significant architectural movements and styles. Art has been both sponsored and employed and original works by noted artists can be seen throughout the tube network in murals and posters. Graphic design has also played a significant part, from the original typefaces for signage to the instantly recognised logos there is much to choose from and that is without even talking about the tube map itself. That wonderful piece of draftsmanship, so easy to take for granted, is a work of economy and genius that perfectly represents the blend of form and function that should be at the heart of all good design.
Further on, when walking through a 1950's tube carriage I had a bit of a shock when I literally bumped into Matthew Pinsent, knight of the realm and sporting god, visiting with his family. My first thought was 'I thought you'd be taller', but once my son had pushed his lad to the ground to get at the remote control tube trains he actually did begin to look rather a lot bigger. Still, no harm done and we had a pleasant five minute chat about how nice the museum was and I never once mentioned how he had blubbed like a girl at the Olympics.
Down to the ground floor and there are more tube trains and finally several buses. Ranging from early petrol driven buses, through a couple of iconic Routemasters and ending with some modern driver only examples. Most of these can be boarded and on one you can get behind the wheel, steer and push lots of buttons. Which I did, obviously.
While access to the exhibits is closely corralled there are many little interactive diversions liberally sprinkled around the floors. This is quite a small museum, on a quiet Sunday morning we had covered everything in two hours. In busier times your progress will be slowed but I can't imagine any trip stretching far beyond three hours. If there is one drawback it is that if you go when it's busy or were to take a school party the main exhibits will become very crowded.
As always, you exit the museum through the gift shop. This one is laid out over two floors; on the ground floor is the usual collection of branded pens, notebooks and so on but up the stairs is a more grown up selection of posters, books and other materials aimed at the enthusiast or student. On this level there is also a small coffee shop.
The London Transport Museum is clean, bright and modern - as you'd expect following the recent refurbishment. Although not large it packs a lot in and is laid out in a thoughtful way. Some careful planning has gone into the flow of the exhibits and surrounding information and the needs of all visitors have been accommodated wherever possible.
At £8 a head for adults it is quite expensive but with all children up to the age of 16 admitted free of charge it balances out to a fairly low cost family day out.
The location of the museum also cannot be ignored. Slap bang in the middle of Covent Garden you are surrounded by a vast choice of shops, bars, restaurants and sights that will easily fill a day. Unfortunately, I can't guarantee you'll meet any sporting gods.
Like anyone located in England's capital city, I grew up travelling on London's Transport service. Its history (especially that which spanned my own period of usage from the early 1970s to the late 1980s) is as much a part of me as any other aspect of my life experiences. Long-term illness and a move to the countryside mean I no longer make journeys by public transport, but a keen sense of identification and fascination with the Underground train system in particular, remains. The London Underground has always seemed like a world within a world, a remarkable legacy of industrial achievements and architectural flair dating back to the late 19th century. Beneath a Victorian city, a labyrinth of interconnecting railroad tracks was burrowed in order to ease the congested streets above. Such a process, starting such a project from scratch with comparitively primtive tools and methods, was necessarily gradual and problematic. In an age now where the current Government cannot even construct a firm pedestrain bridge without farce, the concept of creating an entire subterranean transport network - covering the entire city and later reaching out beyond Central London - in the course of 20-30 years would be extremely remote to say the least. Yet that is precisely what was achieved in the first quarter of the 1900s. The story of London Transport is retold and brought to life at its Museum in Covent Garden. An interactive exhibition featuring stunningly restored original vehicles and paraphenalia captures the essence of bygone eras and technology, while simultaneously looking at the role public transport will have in London's future. From a personal point of view, the most captivating and indelible part of the Underground has always been its design sensibilities. The classic Underground map (or "Journey Planner" as it is now dubbed) is just one of many enduring examples, with its infamous diagrammatic
layout and use of colour. This incarnation has survived for 65 years virtually intact, save for minor changes in 1960 which were then dropped after only a few years in favour of the original 1935 stylings. Place names on the routes stir vivid memories and associations, journeys are remembered by the sequence of stations on a certain line. These things stay with me, etching a London in my mind that I understand and feel an affinity with far more than the London of shifting cultural and social climates in the late 1990s and nascent 21st Century. Throughout its history, aesthetics have been important to the ethos of London Transport. Each period left its own unique mark on the designs which have graced the service down the years, yet all of them kept close to insignias and typefaces first unveiled in the First World War era. The "Roundel" has been the Underground's distinctive logo for all that time, spawning a range of spin-offs for the other London Transport services. They are universally recognized trademarks, synonymous with the Captial itself. During the booming 1920s and 1930s, the finest architects and artists were hired, who put their talents to designing some of the most durable and iconic monuments gracing the city, as well as a catalogue of evocative images depicting events and lifestyles of their time. The Museum has a huge array of maps from all decades, detailing the evolution of London Transport and, since the service exists to serve an ever-changing world, also the progressive trends of society in general. From expansion to cater for commuters from the emerging suburbs in the 1920s, to the addition of whole new routes for the Docklands and Millennium Dome area in the 1990s, the Underground has moved with the times, for the times. Likewise, the technology and efficiency has improved, although it's hard not to feel nostalgic for the rickety old tube carriages and delapidated wooden escalat
ors....with their smell and sense of history so pungent that even in the slightly anodyne surroundings of the London Transport Museum they remain to flood the senses once again, in their strangely comforting way. Development and change is inevitable - if not always welcomed - but for every person who has travelled in and around the Capital, something of the Underground (and London Transport) registers with them even on the most subliminal of levels. Having spent most of my formative years on the trains and buses running through the city, the connection I have with it goes deeper than some. Distance (both time-wise and geographically) has made it feel even more of a world within a world. A world that perhaps no longer exists in quite the way I remember it, but a world that in my memory I can still vividly recall. Visit the London Transport Museum at the Covent Garden Piazza 7 days a week, and check out their comprehensive website at http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk Access is fairly good, with lifts operating in the multi-level complex, but - unfortunately - two corner areas on the upper floor are completely inaccessible for wheelchairs and prams - they are cut off by a series of staircases. Also highly recommended is the video "Underground : The Story Of The Tube " on Carlton PAL video, and also the book "Underground Art : London Transport Posters 1908 to the Present" by Oliver Green. These, and a multitude of other delights, can be found in the (rather cramped) Souvenir shop on-site.
I never knew where this place was until I saw an advert on the Tube on day. I decided to check it out last month - hoping that the Winter would keep most people away. So - I stumped up money and went in. I picked up the kids interactive charts to help me round (it's fun ok!), with matching numbers on the cards and signs around the museum. First up is the trams and horse drawn carriages of old - then through the signs and logos, maps, and paraphernalia of the Tube and Bus systems - then new technology, such as the DLR and the Croydon Tram system - through to the history of the tube. You even get to drive a few tubes through tunnels to stations - all on a computer screen of course!. The whole thing took us about two hours to get round, and luckily it was very quiet, which gave us time to learn about all the weird and wonderful history on offer. It all fits on two storeys in a compact museum tucked away in the corner of Covent Garden.
Although the London Transport Museum may seem like a haven for geeks and trainspotter, it seems as though it is acctually a haven FROM geeks and trainspooters. I'm sure that they would alreasy know everything here. The LT museum is more of a place to while away an hour or two while close to Covent Garden. If like me you hold LT in contmept due to the inefficiany of the service and the horrors of stations such as Covent Garden itself then you will love this place. I would tend to skip the sections about the buses and trams and heasd straight for the 2 galleries, currently displaying info about the logo and the future of transport. Second to that is the area about the tube. The area is often interactive and definitly fascianating showing the evoloution of the Tube, almost making me want to ride it. Well alright, its not quite that good. Finally for kids (and the kid in you) you can go around the museum getting your card you were given at the start, stamped, puched and embossed. Dont forget to visit the gift shop for your smutty merchandise, including postcards and mousemats bearing the phrase '£50 fine for improper use'
I’m by no means a trainspotter, but do enjoy visiting museums and went into the London Transport Museum on impulse one day. I had bad memories from a long-ago school trip, when the museum was rather boring and you had to pay extra to hear the then much-advertised vehicle noises. However, it seemed worth having a look to see if the refurbishments since then had improved things. They certainly have! The museum is in the heart of Covent Garden, on the Piazza (at the edge of the market). This is an appropriate site: not only is it in the heart of London, but Covent Garden is itself of historical interest: it used to be London’s main fruit and vegetable market (this has now relocated to New Covent Garden). The museum is a really bright, light building. On entering, the first feature I really appreciated was the cloakroom. You can leave coats and bags here, and enjoy your visit unencumbered. It was a huge relief to get rid of my overcoat and heavy bag for the duration of the visit. This facility was free. Once you’ve entered the museum, there are free guided tours available. These are conducted by volunteers from the museum’s Friends, and the one I went on was fascinating. Our guide not only explained the history of transport in London, but also put it into a social context. The growing transport system changed London, particularly in changing the areas in which people of different classes could live (governed by the availability of affordable transport to work). London was growing rapidly in the nineteenth century, and the need for most people to live within walking distance of work meant serious. While the first omnibus, which appeared in 1829, was too expensive for most Londoners to use, by the late-nineteenth century, horse-drawn buses were accessible to many more people. Further advances, particularly the underground, the tram network and the motor buses, resulted in the growth of a relatively inexpensive a
nd fast transport system enabling the development of London’s suburbs. These changes were necessary even after the coming of the railways, as travelling from the stations to destinations in central London remained difficult before the Underground. This social history made the displays fascinating even to someone like me, who has no especial enthusiasm for the vehicles themselves. There was also the childish pleasure of getting to go onto vehicles you can’t normally enter! After the tour, I wandered around on my own to take a closer look at some exhibits and try out some of the activities. The exhibits are mostly actual vehicles, arranged by type and date. You begin with horse-drawn buses, and continue through trams, trolley-buses, diesel-engined buses, and tube trains. You can go into some of these (the contemporary adverts are fun); others have model “passengers”. There are also explanations of the working of these vehicles, including exhibits of construction techniques for tramlines and tunnels. Photographs, films and miscellaneous other items further illustrate the history of London’s transport – London Transport even has its own typeface (‘Johnson’). I found the trams particularly interesting: given that these have now disappeared (although there is a new system in Croydon), it is difficult to believe that for the first half of this century they were one of the most popular ways of getting around London. Each museum ticket has fourteen squares which you can stamp at twelve numbered points on the way around with a relevant picture. Some are embossed onto the ticket, some cut out, and some simply stamped in ink. Designed to amuse children, this will also keep some adults entertained! (Well, it amused me, anyway). Each ‘stamping point’ also has a selection of relevant children’s activities. Slightly more sophisticated entertainment was the chance to drive
a tube train. Suffice it to say that this is certainly not my missed vocation! Although the controls are simple, actually stopping the train in the right place is rather more complicated. These simulations seemed to appeal to adult visitors at least as much as children; there can often be queues at them as a result. The museum is well-designed, with some nice touches such as sections of old underground escalators and ticket barriers to walk through. Throughout the day, actors appear as bus conductors, ticket-sellers at the recreated ticket office, and so on. There are also exhibitions: one on the designing of the tube map, and another temporary exhibition which changes regularly. When I visited, it was ‘A logo for London’ which I’m afraid I didn’t find terribly interesting. It is probably of more interest to people with a particular interest in design and corporate image. Inevitably, you exit through the shop. It does have some interesting and fun gifts, many using the names and famous phrases from the Underground. However, there are also a lot of rather expensive souvenirs aimed at tourists. The section of books and magazines seemed reasonably comprehensive, but I don’t know enough about transport publications to be sure. The aisles are rather close together, making the shop feel pretty overcrowded. The café is one of the Aroma chain. I haven’t been in that particular one, but have always had good experiences at others in the chain (although they are not cheap, the coffee is excellent and the Portuguese patisserie is particularly delicious – I recommend the coconut tarts!). Altogether, I was really impressed by the museum. I went in thinking to waste an hour out of the frenetic atmosphere in Covent Garden market, and ended up spending several really enjoyable hours learning a great deal about the city’s history. I would definitely recommend a visit. <br>Transport: Covent Garden tube; nearest bus stops are on the Strand.
If you are a secret train-spotter, then this is the place for you! Bus and tram-spotters are also welcome! Having read the book "London under London", about the various strange goings on under London i.e. underground rivers, sewers, lots of things you didn't know were there and of course the tube, I was fascinated by the story of the London Underground and how it came to be, so apart from reading other books about it, I thought that I would visit the London Transport Museum, to see some of the original tubes. My main excuse however was to take my 5 year old nephew to see the trains as he's mad on Thomas the Tank Engine and absolutely adores riding on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) so this was ideal for him (not to mention the fact that I wanted to go!) The London Transport Museum is not far from Covent Garden Tube Station, in a corner to the left of the Covent Garden Market (once you are in the market square). It was renovated about 2 years ago so it's all fairly new and you can see that they have made a huge effort with it. As you enter the museum, it starts off with the old-fashioned buses which were horse-drawn. There are a selection of different old buses including a rather strange contraption called a trolley bus. Looking almost like a normal bus, this vehicle was attached to an overhead power cable which ran the length of its route. To me this sounds such a mad idea, that I'm not surprised it was phased out in favour of normal buses. The streets used to be cluttered with the overhead cables! Another form of London transport which was phased out was the tram (back recently in Croydon) and there is part of an old one here for anyone who is interested. As well these you spot a bus that everyone is familiar with, the good old Routemaster (the open backed London double decker, for those of you who don't know!) Judging by the state of some of them still in service you start to wonder whether they actually dig them out of
the museum to fill in for breakdowns! Then there are the underground trains. London can boast of having the World's first underground railway system. The first part of the tube opened on the 10th January 1863, with part of our present day Metropolitan line. This started at Bishop's road (now Paddington) and ran to Farringdon. The rest of the underground was built in a complicated manner with different train companies owning different lines and building different bits of it. Eventually everything was united bringing us the system that we have today. There is also a section on the famous London underground map done by Harry Beck, a draughtsman and if you think that the present map is hard to follow you should have seen some of the earlier versions! Some of the original parts of trains & carriages are here which is very interesting as they even have one of the original "padded cells", these carriages belonged to one of the very first electric locomotives and were so called because they only had tiny little windows and high backed, buttoned upholstered chairs. The reasoning was that as the journey was underground, windows weren't really necessary & the station names were called out by the guard! There are also more recent train carriages containing the original advertising banners inside which gives you an even greater sense of going back in time. It's a weird sensation sitting in a tube carriage in a museum that people used to go to work on! Apart from the bus/tram/trolley bus & tube bit. There are plenty of fun things for children to do including interactive screens, buttons to press which light up bulbs, push trains along tracks etc. showing them how things work. My little nephew loved the mini DLR train that ran round a track disappearing out of sight before re-emerging the other side. There is also a kids play area with train type bits to climb on to let off steam and upstairs there was another play area with a wooden
train set that kids can build their own tracks & push trains round. This is where my parents and I sat having a rest and chatting while Oliver played "Thomas" with the train set! There was also a great tube train driving simulator where the object is to drive your train through the tunnel, stop at red lights and pull the train into the platform. You stand in a mock-up of a driving cab in front of a screen and use a real "dead mans handle" to drive the simulator with. It's not as easy as it looks to get the train to pull up properly at the station - if you stop too early half the train is still in the tunnel & if you slow down too late, you overshoot the platform! Part of the museum is home to a great cafe, the food and canned drinks are overpriced, but the tea is very cheap for London, £1.49 for a huge pot. I think I had 6 cups ... which brings me on to the next point - make sure that you use the loos inside the museum before you leave as there are several, if you use the loo in the cafe there is only one for each sex which makes for a very long queue especially when you're 5.5 months pregnant as I was! The gift shop is also great, full of interesting gifts, books and novelties. For a fun day out for children round the ages of 4-10 this would be ideal. There is plenty for the kids to see and do and it should keep them amused for a few hours. My little nephew loved it so much that he insisted that we took him back to it twice! It is also great for those who are train/bus or tram spotters(!), anyone with a remote interest in the history of London's transport or even if you just like visiting museums. It is a bit pricey for entry, but they do have family tickets and concessions available and you can get a free guided tour of the museum if you want one. I really enjoyed it myself and would go back again tomorrow, but then again I like visiting museums and I like tube trains (now where did I put my anorak?)
The London Transport Museum can be found in a corner of Convent Garden (near to the Opera House). As its name suggests, it celebrates the history of getting people around London on various forms of transport from the C18 until the current day. You can get to Convent Garden by taking a Piccadilly Line tube train. Once at ground level, take a right turn, follow the crowds into the square and its in the far left hand corner. Admission to the Museum is about £5.50 (well it was in November 1999 when I visited there). Youngsters under 5 are free and I am sure that there are other concessions for OAP’s, students and families. The museum starts with omnibuses, the main form of public transport before the tube network was established. They’re a number of vehicles with plastic full size horses to give an impression of how things were. Moving along, the museum also has a good selection of trams, buses and trolley buses. Many of them contain wax figures describing how the passengers of the day looked. Some of them you can even climb into. When we were there, there were museum staff dressed up as drivers and conductors who were happy to tell visitors about tram driving etc. Around the walls of the museum can be found information about the transport system developed. Did you know that the first tube line was exactly a tunnel? The builders simply constructed a trench and covered over the top when completed. In the far side of the museum is a collection of exhibits from the underground. Who remembers escalators with wooden slats or those ticket machines, which used to dispense yellow tickets? There is also an exhibition showing how the original tube tunnels were constructed – by hand. Very dirty business! There is even a tube train 'done up' as it would have looked during WW2. Upstairs is a big train set together with carriages and trains from the Metropolitan Railway. This railway helped to sell the
dream in the early part of the twentieth century of living in the country but being close enough to London to get in by train. For those aspiring train drivers, there is even a tube train simulator! And finally, the Gift Shop. You can buy loads of things with the LU logo on them here from tea towels, pencils, to t-shirts. They also sell posters, books and models. Did you know that the tube map was designed in the 1920’s and was based on an electrical diagram? I find the book section especially interesting and usualy come away with some 'anorak' reading material. The best thing is that you do not have to visit the museum to enter the gift shop. There is a Transport cafe nearby where you can grab a quick drink whilst perusing your purchases! However I can't comment on it as I have never been in. The Transport Museum is well worth the visit especially if its raining or very cold. However, young children may find it quite boring. There is a small play area, which may keep them interested - but if you can try not to take them if they are of the age where they get easily bored or are fidgety. If you take transportation in general, a visit is highly recommended.