An interactive museum, tracing the history of London’s transport system from the day’s of horse drawn carriages to information on the contemporary and modern designs of new underground stations. Located in a Victorian iron and glass building, the central hall has on display many examples of buses, trams, trolleybuses and rail vehicles dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. Even the first underground electric train, from 1890, can be seen here.
After purchasing your ticket, valid for an entire year, you are led through an entertaining and tastefully designed entrance, showcasing the transport systems of New York, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai, New Delhi and London. Continuing around the corner, the elevator is entered at ground level in the year 2017. As the elevator ascends to Level two, you are transported back in time to the year 1800 (look for the screen above the doors). On exiting the elevator, you are greeted with the very earliest forms of transport in London – horse drawn carriages.
Double-decker horse-drawn tram
Progressing through history by heading back downstairs, the story of the evolution of the London transport system continues. Display posters explain that in 1800 nearly all Londoners lived within walking distance of their jobs but by 1900 most did not, leading to the development of a public transport system. Short journeys were on horse-drawn buses and trams, but for longer journeys, the train was faster and more comfortable. New suburban railway services, for example the opening of the Metropolitan Railway in 1863 soon made daily commuting possible.
Back on the ground floor, there is a fine selection of transport memorabilia, a collection of trams, trolleybuses, buses and rail vehicles and even a tube simulator giving visitors a taste of what it is like to drive a tube train deep beneath the streets of London.
How to get there?
Situated in Covent Garden, the museum is just a short walk from Covent Garden, Charring Cross, Embankment or Leicester Square tube stations.
Entrance Hall displaying maps and information of transit systems from around the World
The main hall, with an old routemaster bus and a 1938 Northern Line vehicle
A poster announcing the re-opening of the City & South London Railway
The World famous London Underground Roundel
Northern Line tube map and internal carriage posters
Northern Line 1938 stock in classic red livery
The Metropolitan Railway steam locomotive No.23
Coach number 4248 is an electric driving motor car. It is one of 50 built for the District Railway by the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company in 1923. The coaches were built with hand-worked sliding door which passengers had to open close themselves. The trains were known officially as G-stock. Underground drivers called them ‘horse boxes’ because of the narrow cabs.
After modernization in 1938, coach number 4248 worked in mixed stock formation with newer vehicles on the District Line for another 25 years. In 1963 it was transferred to the East London Line. It was finally withdrawn from service in September 1971 and transferred to the London Transport collection at Syon Park. The coach is displayed in final operating conditions complete with its set of advertising car cards from around 1970.
The City and South London Railway (C&SLR) locomotive No.13. Built in 1889/90 by Mather & Platt, it was one of the first locomotives on the C&SLR which itself was the first deep-level underground “tube” railway in the world, and the first major railway to use electric traction.
An original tube carriage on the C&SLR in 1889. The small windows earned the carriage the nickname “padded cells”.
The interior of the original tube carriage on the C&SLR.