London Transport Museum and Depot
The London Transport Museum is home to a varied collection of London transport themed items dating from the 1800s to the present, including vehicles, 5000 posters, signs, photographs, drawings, and uniforms.
Two hundred years ago London graduated from foot transport to horse drawn vehicles. Buses, trams, and railways continued the theme. In 1860 work began on the world’s first underground rail system. In 1890 the world’s first electric railway, the City and South London Railway, opened between Stockwell and King William Street in the City.
The collections detail this history. Themed galleries include 19th century London, Steam Underground, Growth of the Suburbs, Digging Deeper, Traveling Underground, Design for Travel, On the Surface, and Transport at War. The website has excellent historical information on these subjects.
There are games, models and a miniature railway. There are 80 road and rail vehicles, 25 of which are on current display. These include locomotives, horse drawn trams, taxis, and trolley buses.
There are research collections for the serious student of transport. Poster lovers can explore the artists, subjects and techniques of poster design and watch poster related films. 16,000 photographs can be searched by location, theme, or date.
The Museum Depot at Acton holds the majority of the museum’s 375,000 items which are not on display in the main museum in Covent Garden. It opens to the public for special events, including themed open weekends. The exact dates are found on the website.
London Transport Museum
39 Wellington Street, Covent Garden Piazza
London, WC2E 7BB
Tel. 020 7565 7299 (info line); 020 7379 6344 (switchboard)
Open: Mon-Thu and Sat-Sun, 10am-6pm; Fri, 11am-7pm; last admission 5.15pm; open late some Fridays—check website for dates
Shop; sandwiches and drinks bar
London Transport Museum Depot
Note: You can easily spend four hours at the museum, but plan on a minimum of three. It’s large and jam-packed with interestiing displays to explore. Afterwards enjoy Covent Garden market.
All photos © by Barbara Ballard