Mind the Gap: London’s Transport Museum

The same day that we visited the National Gallery, Mom, Eric and I walked a few more blocks to visit the London Transport Museum. I had the highest recommendation from Emily, “The Gift Shop is amazing.” There you have it folks, I don’t need much else.

London’s Transport Museum

Luckily, the museum was as amazing as the gift shop. Another cool fact is although it a paid ticket entry, your ticket is a year long valid pass-we’re going back in August! Alright!

When you enter the museum, you go through history chronologically learning all about ye-olden-horse-and-buggy days, all the way up through the double decker buses and the modern Tube.

It all begins in 1800….

I personally love memorabilia of all sorts, so I was fascinated with the bits and bobs in the museum-the signs, the ads, the tickets. Of course because they are they authority on the subject, they had near pristine buggies, subways and tram cars from the early days.

This is the badge the Carriage Drivers had to have fastened to their chariot.

Eric investigates a public carriage

This is one of the first public carriages, as opposed to private carriages or carriages for hire for one person. This is the pre-curser to the London bus system, where they began making regular stops.

Vintage ad for “Punch”, otherwise known as snake oil.

Mom and I testing the seats in an old subway car.

They had a lot to say about how absolutely awful the air quality was in the first day and years of the public subway system. They hadn’t figured out the right way to ventilate down there, so there were many cases of lung problems, people passing out, and the like. Despite all that pollution, these old cars were marvelous. Beautiful upholstery, scrolling shelves, and somewhat private cars.

Mom moves into the 20th century

Moving right along this is a much more updated version of the subway system, looks like it’s from the 1960’s.

Loved these vintage travel posters. Those Cats know how to party.

Then we visited a temporary exhibition called “Sense and the City” which was an exploration  about “futurism” in transportation technology-what we once thought the future would look like, and what we now predict the future will be like in terms of transportation.

Utopias of Aerial Navigation of the last century. I wish!

Highlights of the old Popular Science and Modern Mechanix magazines with retro futuristic visions of travel in “the future”

The history of London bus passes

The exhibition was in conjunction with the Royal College of Art so they featured projects dreamed up and designed by students there. Naturally, they were incredibly smart and immediately necessary after you hear about them.

Moving into the futuristic section, c/o LTM

One project suggested they project movies of nature or other people in the station against the tube tunnel at the platform instead of looking at ad space or just cement. One project proposed to track your transit through the city by connecting to your Oyster Card (their metro pass). You could get cool data on how many miles you’d traveled, which lines you use most, etc. as well as tshirts or other memorabilia with the info printed on it.

Looking into the Bus section of the museum

Then we moved onto the bus section of the museum-chronicling all the transitions between different versions of the classic London red double decker bus.

The rolling signs from inside the buses that change for your stop or route, all unfurled…

He’s a big public transportation fan.

Bad picture, but how funny is that? “How to Conduct a Bus”.

Mom on a double decker train

Old. Bus. (see the license plate)

Model Train running around the entire museum

After we played around, climbing on old trains and buses, pretending to drive them or sit merrily in our bustles on a bumpy double decker train, we made our way toward the gift shop. And guess what-it WAS amazing! After I rifled through the whole place and made off with my goodies, we left thoroughly content. We love museums where you are visually stimulated, the design is thoughtful and interesting, the exhibitions are inspiring and the whole place is fun! Maybe this is too much to ask for but the London Transport Museum sure had all those things. We adored it and can’t wait to go back in August.

We wandered around the neighborhood post-museum-exploring the nearby Christmas markets and listening to classical musicians perform in the streets. A cheery and wonderful end to a memorable day.

<3 Chelsea

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