London Transport Museum • Visit to Transport Museum in Covent Garden London

London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum is a Transport for London (TfL) transport museum in Covent Garden. I had wanted to visit it on my past 2 London trips, but time was not on my side. With a long trip in the UK this time, the London Transport Museum was the first attraction that I went to on my long holiday.

From London Marylebone, I took the Bakerloo Line to Charing Cross and walked about 10 minutes to London Transport Museum from there. Covent Garden is the nearest Tube station to the London Transport Museum, but I would require a transfer from Marylebone.

The London Transport Museum is inside the former Covent Garden vegetable, fruit and flower market.

Heading into the London Transport Museum.

London Transport Museum Ticket

The ticket counter is just by the entrance.

The London Transport Museum only sells annual passes, so a ticket would get you unlimited visits for the next 365 days. On my visit, the London Transport Museum Unlimited Annual Pass ticket costed me £18.50.

Currently, there are 3 types of tickets: Unlimited Annual Pass, Off-Peak Annual Pass, and Annual Pass Plus. Prices have since increased – an Unlimited Annual Pass ticket now costs £21.

For revisits, an identification document is required to be presented with the Annual Pass ticket.

World Cities Walk

The visit starts with a walk past railway route maps reminiscent of other countries.

Heading up the lift to Level 2 where the exhibits start.

19th Century London

The London Transport Museum narrative starts in 1800 at the start of the most basic form of transport – walking.

When London first started, the Marchetti’s Constant was already in effect.

A life sized model of a sedan chair if you’d like someone else to do the walking for you.

Buses started running in 1829.

The first omnibus route in London was between Paddington and Bank, which is still a key travel corridor today by any means.

For a faster journey, boats were used on the River Thames.

During my visit in March 2022, the vehicles had just reopened to visitors.

A replica of the horse-drawn omnibus. The word bus comes from the Latin word omnibus which means means “for all”.

The plush interior of the horse-drawn omnibus. This is the first local bus service as we know today where no prior booking was necessary and the driver would pick up or set down passengers anywhere on request.

There is another horse-drawn omnibus replica, this time a double-decker.

This exhibit, however, was closed for public access inside the seating area.

A model of how the double-decker horse-drawn omnibus worked with passengers.

The exhibition then evolves to horse-drawn trams which could carry more passengers with the same horse effort.

There is an interactive exhibit which shows the difference in effort required based on the size of the wheels.

This exhibit was also not opened to the public, so a shot through the acrylic panel is all I could get of the interior.

Tram tracks were originally raised from the road level, causing obstruction, before changing to flushed tracks which is in use today.

The London horse tram routes in 1875.

There were maintenance of a very different kind back then, with vets, blacksmiths, and horse-handlers involved in the upkeep of the tram network.

The world’s first public railway was the Surrey Iron Railway operating between Wandsworth and Croydon which opened in 1803.

The route map of the Surrey Iron Railway in 1803.

There was a steam locomotive demonstration by Richard Trevithick, a British inventor and mining engineer, in 1808. However, no one backed his idea then.

The demonstration line was just a circle to show off the steam locomotive.

London’s first passenger railway was the London and Greenwich Railway (L&GR) which opened in stages from 1836 to 1838.

The London and Greenwich Railway (L&GR) was the first steam railway in London, the first railway to be built specifically for passengers, and the first fully-elevated railway.

The map of London’s first passenger railways.

The route map of the London and Greenwich Railway (L&GR).

The route map of the London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) in London.

Following these 2 railways, many more railway lines were rapidly built.

The route map of railways into London and the terminals in 1875.

As the railways were not allowed to build their terminal in the business centre then, the Metropolitan Railway was created to link up the various terminals to the city. This is the start of the current Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan Lines on the London Underground.

In 1900, there were plenty of railway lines in London.

Heading down by the spiral staircase to continue the exhibition.

The Transportorium on the main floor can be seen from the spiral staircase.

Steam Underground

The museum visit continues with the construction of the first underground railway.

A model of the cut and cover technique used to build the Metropolitan Line.

Construction conditions were brutal during that time.

Vents were created from the tunnel to the road to allow steam from the train to be expelled from the tunnel.

The original Metropolitan Railway A class 4-4-0T steam locomotive No. 23 is displayed here.

A Third Class carriage is also displayed here. This is Metropolitan Railway “Bogie Stock” coach No. 400.

Wax models of passengers simulating a peak hour ride on the Metropolitan Railway.

A compartment is open for visits.

A rather plush and comfy Third Class compartment on a local railway.

The view of the Third Class compartment when seated.

The route map of the Metropolitan Railway and connections inside the Third Class compartment.

The route map of extension lines into Metro-land inside the Third Class compartment. More on Metro-land shortly below.

Overhead luggage racks are available in the Third Class compartment.

A ladies compartment was also available on board the Third Class compartment.

First, second, and third class travel were available on the Metropolitan Railway.

Cheap third class fares were available on early morning parliamentary trains as the workmen’s houses were demolished to make way for the Metropolitan Railway, and the parliamentary fares were a form of compensation for them.

The overall view of Metropolitan Railway “Bogie Stock” coach No. 400.

Metropolitan Railway electric locomotive No. 5 ‘John Hampden’ is also on display here, which worked on passenger trains between the City and Metro-land until 1961.

These electric locomotives were named after famous people associated with Metro-land. Metropolitan Railway electric locomotive No. 5 was named after John Hampden who was a famous 17th century parliamentarian from Buckinghamshire.

London Electric Railway (LER) Q23-stock driving motor car No. 4248 is attached behind Metropolitan Railway electric locomotive No. 5 ‘John Hampden’.

Unfortunately, London Electric Railway (LER) Q23-stock driving motor car No. 4248 was still closed for visits during my visit.

Here’s a peek at the interior by putting my camera over the queue poles.

Hopper windows allow for ventilation in the coach.

The namesake of Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Co. is placed by the door.

The overall view of London Electric Railway (LER) Q23-stock driving motor car No. 4248.

Metro-land refers to the suburban areas that were built northwest of London in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Middlesex in the early part of the 20th century that were served by the Metropolitan Railway to be developed for housing. The term “Metro-land” was coined by the Met’s marketing department in 1915 when the Guide to the Extension Line became the Metro-land guide, promoting a dream modern home in the beautiful countryside with a fast railway service to central London.

All Aboard – Family Play Zone

There is a children’s play area here with mockups of a bus and train.

Hidden London (Global Gallery)

The new Hidden London exhibition at the Global Gallery shows some of London’s most secret or forgotten spaces on the London Underground.

King William Street Tube Station was the original but short-lived northern terminus of the City and South London Railway (C&SLR) and the first successful deep-level underground railway in London.

Aldwych Tube Station is another famous closed tube station on the London Underground located in Central London on the short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn.

Aldwych Tube Station and the branch line from Holborn were popular locations for filming scenes even before their closure as the line only operated on weekdays before its closure in 1994.

After closure, the station, track and infrastructure are maintained in operational condition and films continue to be shot there.

A map of all disused stations on the London Underground network.

The Hidden London exhibitions also showcases life during World War II.

A replica of the dining area inside the disused Down Street Tube Station for the Railway Executive Committee (REC).

Down Street Tube Station was converted to an underground bunker in early 1939 for the Railway Executive Committee (REC) during World War II.

Down Street Tube Station was also used as a shelter by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the war cabinet until the Cabinet War Rooms were ready.

During World War II, the Plessey defence electronics company built a secret factory in newly constructed Underground tunnels at the eastern end of the Central line which were part of an extension interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939.

At night, elsewhere around the underground parts of the London Underground network, the station and tunnels were used by shelterers to sleep overnight in safety.

The living conditions of shelterers living in underground stations during World War II.

Shelter wardens were employed to manage the facilities and shelterers.

A model of the bunks used in the stations.

The toilets in the shelters.

The Hidden London exhibitions ends on the ground floor, leading out to the Transportorium.

Transportorium

With the advent of diesel and electric train services, train travel times from surrounding towns to London improved, expanding where residents could live in line with the Marchetti’s Constant.

A model of the Chiltern Railways British Rail Class 168 Chiltern Clubman.

A model of the original P86 rolling stock on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

A model of the Bombardier CR4000 rolling stock on the London Trams, previously called Tramlink and Croydon Tramlink.

The map of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in 2000.

With the first tram era from 1860 to 1952 gone, trams made a comeback in London from 2000 till now with the Croydon trams. There were no trams in London between 1952 and 2000.

Here are some static vehicles in the Transportorium:

Carbodies FX4S Plus Taxi registration mark E272 MYL, 1988
Routemaster double deck motor bus bonnet No RM1737 registration number 737DYE, 1963 & AEC RT-type double deck motor bus bonnet No RT4712, registration mark NXP997, 1954

The Routemaster double deck motor bus bonnet No RM1737 registration number 737DYE can be boarded for a look at the interior.

The interior of the lower deck of the Routemaster.

Heading up to the upper deck.

The interior of the upper deck of the Routemaster.

Leyland X2 double deck bus registration LN7270, 1908
Builder Plate of Leyland X2 double deck bus registration LN7270, 1908
London Underground 1938-tube stock driving motor car No. 11182, 1938
West Ham Corporation Tramways double deck electric tram No 102, 1910
LGOC B-Type B2737 WW1 Battle Bus
LGOC B-Type B2737 WW1 Battle Bus
K2-class trolleybus No 1253 registration mark EXV253
Austin Low Loader taxi, registration number CXX 598, 1936

All Aboard – Family Play Zone

There is another play area for kids on the ground floor.

Travelling Underground

There is another section on the London Underground on the ground floor.

City & South London Railway electric locomotive No 13, built by Mather & Platt, 1890 by Hugh Robertson, 2000
City & South London Railway electric locomotive No 13, built by Mather & Platt, 1890 by Hugh Robertson, 2000

Much of the City & South London Railway electric locomotive No 13 has been restored to its original look.

City and South London Railway ‘Padded Cell’ coach No 30, 1890

The interior of the City and South London Railway ‘Padded Cell’ coach No 30.

Windows were not installed on the City and South London Railway ‘Padded Cell’ coach as it was thought that there was nothing for passengers to see.

Wax models sitting down in the other end of the coach.

The view of the ‘Padded Cell’ coach when seated.

Overhead handrails are available for standees.

The route map of the Central London Railway (CLR).

London Underground 1938-tube stock driving motor car No. 11182, 1938

The London Underground 1938-tube stock driving motor car No. 11182, 1938 is open for public visits.

The interior of the London Underground 1938-tube stock driving motor car No. 11182, 1938.

A mix of transverse and longitudinal seating are available on board the London Underground 1938-tube stock driving motor car No. 11182.

The Northern Line route map on board the London Underground 1938-tube stock driving motor car No. 11182.

Various models of London Underground rolling stock are also displayed here.

There is a train simulator of the the London Underground 1938-tube stock beside the actual car.

The simulator mostly demonstrates the throttle and brake handles, including how the dead man’s handle works on the throttle. There are no penalties for speeding, wrong stopping position, or not stopping in general.

A model of how an escalator works.

A model of a tunnel boring machine.

This section is modelled after a bored tunnel.

London’s Transport At War

The exhibition then moves on to London’s transport system and staff roles during World War I and II.

A one-man air raid shelter, also known as a bell shelter due to its shape.

There is a small room of static exhibits and signs.

A mockup of an underground station is used to show films of how conditions were in underground stations serving as air raid shelters for the masses during the wars.

London Transport posters of air raid shelter functions are replicated around.

Future Engineers