London Transport Museum

June 18, 2008 at 7:37 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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In addition to street performers, theatre and retail shopping galore Covent Garden is also home to London’s Transport Museum.

A co-worker looked aghast when I mentioned I’d been here over my weekend, with the loaded “why?”. A good question. If it wasn’t a mission to see London and in this instance somewhere central I probably wouldn’t have gone. Am I glad that made the effort, not really but I think there are some groups that would be interested in visiting. Those being enthusiasts and children.

The museum is located in Covent Garden, in a former flower market building. After paying £10 (adult entry) you’ll go up the elevator to the second floor. Unless you’re me, in which case you’ll have to go back because you’re brazen and yobbish enough to bring a coffee into the museum. Such a calamity! I’m particularly annoyed by this because the person issuing the ticket on the ground floor didn’t stop me.

The museum has a great deal of floor space, most of which is taken up by examples of modern transport, such as buses and train carriages. That’s right this is most definitely a museum of modern transport. There’s only a brief review of London’s transport system pre-steam, such as chair men and horse drawn buses. Oddly there’s no mention of rickshaws/pedicabs even by the present day section. Whereas bicycles do get a mention (as do black and mini cabs).

You’ll then wander through a reasonably well marked trail on the development of the Tube and Bus systems and there’s an information centre on the first floor as well. There may be considerable information in that centre but what of the content in the museum proper? I found the large summaries reasonable albeit lacking in critical content and they appeared to talk about people and issues without laying the ground work or terminology beforehand. Truthfully, I didn’t read all of the smaller blurbs so I may have missed that but I don’t think so.

Personally, I found the areas devoted to the World Wars, the excavation of the Tube lines (including people’s initial fear of escalators), the design of the Tube logo and map and the future technologies the most interesting.

Then again my absolutely favourite part would be the recreation of a modern tube station with oyster cards and help points! Wow, I’ve never seen one of those before. How strange and foreign! I doubt most tourists would have managed to avoid a Tube station on their way into London/ Covent Garden either.

Wandering around the carriages and buses is fine, the content is fine albeit fine in a positively slanted direction. The building and general ambience were pleasant. The “map” was ridiculous, given more for a children’s activity than to actually describe the displays on your route. No doubt a failed attempt at enticing you to spend another £5 for the guide.

I feel completely blase toward this museum it was fine but definitely not worth £10. A more tolerable price would be £7.

Families would do well here as children will be free and there are quite a few activities. I saw a number of children running around enjoying themselves so it can’t be all bad. Similarly, I happened to be behind a family with a teenager and they were all excited by the trains; discussing amongst themselves the different gauges and information. Clearly, those with an interest in the development of these technologies and systems may get more out of the museum than me.

If you don’t fall into these categories I would advise avoiding the Museum. Also, someone had better tell the gift shop that drinking is now illegal on the Tube so they should stop selling those shot glasses.

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