Time travelling through London’s Transport Museum

Now that we have moved to London, we have unlike the Netherlands, become much more dependent on public transport. Back in the days I drove around on my mother bike in Rotterdam, nowadays I cross the city by metro or bus. Not only because cycling with a child on the back of the bike is strongly discouraged in London, but also because the city is many times bigger. Fortunately, public transport is so well organized in London, in no time you are from one district to another.

In the beginning I had to get used to it a bit and I missed my bicyle a lot. Meanwhile I don’t know better and I’m happy with the many undergrounds and buses that drive around.
Lara finds it always nice to travel by public transport. She look her eyes out when we are sitting in the top of the red double-decker and likes to talk to fellow passengers in the London subway where you sit opposite to each other. When I told her that there was a museum in London dedicated to buses and trains she got excited and wanted to go there immediately.

The London Transport Museum is located in a former depot on the outskirts of Covent Garden.

I’m talking about the Transport Museum, located in a former depot on the outskirts of Covent Garden Piazza in the center of London. London Transport Museum explores the story of London and its transport system over the last 200 years, with an emphasis on the transport and growth of modern London, culture and society since 1800.

Entrance of the Museum.

The museum has some 450,000 items, including (horse)trams, buses, and various railway vehicles from the 19th and 20th century. In addition, the collection also includes objects and showcases showing how public transport and the transport network developed in London. The objects are carefully preserved, examined and acquired in the galleries, exhibitions and other activities of the museum. Larger exhibitions are held at the Acton depot where, among other things, a complete London Underground 1938 Stock can be seen. The first tube that was used for the deep level lines of the London underground. They were deployed on the Piccadilly Line, the Northern Line and the Bakerloo Line.

View from above.

Unlike many other museums in London that are free, you have to pay for this museum. A ticket for an adult costs £17 pounds and is valid for one year. We received a floorplan and an activity booklet that is part of the search that has been specially designed for children. The museum is very interactive and takes the visitor on a journey through the time with Londons transport.

Start of the route.

After we have left our coats at the cloakroom, we are ready for our trip. We approach the start of the tour and stamp at the first stop. We may continue and follow the directions along the route. The museum has three floors, the search begins at the top and ends below. We take the elevator and travel back in time to the year 1800 where horse and carriage and eventually also the horse tram were dominated.

We arrive in London 1800.
Horse tram.

After passing the second stop and stamping our card, we move towards the Metropolitan Railway steam locomotive. The first Metropolitan Railway steam locomotives were ordered for the Metropolitan Railway in 1864. A total of 116 locomotives have been built, of which two have been preserved. One of them is number 23 that can be seen in the transport museum.

In the museum you can also take a look inside of the vehicles.

Two doors further, a man with a bowler hat looks through the window. Lara is startled. I have to admit the dolls in the museum look lifelike for small children. I tell her that they are dolls, characters from the past who mimic a scenario. She quickly gets used to the idea and looks back to the man.

By using the dolls you get an even better picture of how the transport used to be used.

The museum is very playful and ideal to visit with the family. Almost all vehicles can be viewed from inside and are supported with text, image and sound. In addition, there are various playgrounds for young and older children spread over the route. Nice interactive devices offer space to experience what it is like to sit behind the wheel of a city bus or to transport the subway from one stop to the other.

Play areas for the little ones.

Once down we get closer to the modern time and continue our route through an old subway. The adjacent spaces presents scale models, miniature trains and showcases filled with road signs, posters, tickets, texts and photos.

Objects in the showcases

We cross the traffic light and approach different double-deckers on the left and right, which have become more and more modern through time. From hard benches, less legroom and dark colors, to more comfort, space and light. Lara crawls behind the wheel and asks for my ticket. I give her the stamp card and she points to post 12.

The museum is very playful.
Lara behind the wheel of a real double-decker.

We are approaching the final stationFuture Journey, Futury City, an exhibition that focuses on the future of traveling through the city. In addition to exploring the past, the museum also looks at current transport developments and urban transport concepts in the future. The exhibition has a different design than the permanent exhibition, but fits well with the investigative attitude towards the future of cities and transport in which innovation and creative thinking play an important role. Lara proudly shows her stamp card and marks number 13. All stops have been stamped, it was a beautiful journey back in the days of the London transport.

Exhibition Future Journey, Futury City.

As usual, we close our museum visit with a blueberry muffin and apple juice and a quick walk through the museum shop. What a nice museum, ideal for an adventure afternoon with the whole family. We will definitely return here once again.

Entrance of the store and cafe.
Lara is exploring the museum shop.

Curious about this interactive museum and do you want to plan a visit in advance, then click here. If you want to see more of London, you can also use one of the package deals which the Transport Museum has on offer. In addition to single tickets for the museum, you can purchase bundles aswell, which will give you access to other attractions in London. Read more about these deals here. For all other information about the museum, please visit the website of the Transport Museum.

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