The history of our world-famous transport system is revealed in this interactive museum which is fun for vehicle (and London) enthusiasts of all ages
After the entertaining entrance, where audiovisual recordings of transport systems in New York, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai and New Delhi, as well as London, are shown on screens, you are whisked by lift to the second floor – and back to 1800. The capital’s first licensed public transport was the sedan chair, an example of which is on show, but the gorgeous horse-drawn omnibus, from 1805, its painted, flower-bordered designs announcing still-familiar routes, is a bigger draw. Progress leads you ever onwards, to the building of our first passenger railway – from London Bridge to Greenwich in 1833.
The first floor of the London Transport Museum holds perhaps the most exciting displays, including the first underground engine (steam-powered) and a wooden Metropolitan Railway coach (converted to electricity in 1901); one of several exhibits you can board. Frank Pick, the man responsible for rolling out the London Underground brand and giving each line its own character and ensuring the emblematic bar and circle logo became an intrinsic part of London’s visual identity, to the extent it now signifies ‘tube station’ without the need for words, is the focus of the design display. London Transport’s posters – by the likes of Abram Games, Graham Sutherland and Ivon Hitchens – are on show throughout museum. Many are design icons, though none is greater than Harry Beck’s original tube map.
A new family play zone for children aged 0-7, All Aboard, features a fleet of mini vehicles to climb into and play on. Kids can repair a little tube train, sail the ‘Thames Nipper’, play in the lost property office and try musical instruments on busking spots. The Baby DLR features an interactive wall and building blocks to keep infants entertained. Visitors all get the chance to sit in the driver’s cab of a red bus and guide a Northern Line simulator through tunnels and up to platforms, so big kids will have plenty of fun, too.
|Address:||Covent Garden Piazza
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thur, Sat, Sun 10am-6pm (last admission 5.15pm); Fri 11am-6pm (last admission 5.15pm)|
|Transport:||Tube: Covent Garden|
|Price:||£16, £13.50 concs, under-18s free; tickets valid for one year|