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The London Transport Museum charts the history of public transport in the city from the early 1800s to the present day, filtering the wider story of British transport technology through the unique history of London’s development.
It is very difficult nowadays to say where the suburbs of London come to an end, and where the country begins.
Yet while drawing out the ways in which public transport created an increasingly connected London, I felt what was missing from this was acknowledgement of the role that transport networks extending beyond London and its suburbs played in connecting the city to the rest of the country. The regular section of the museum on the London Underground has been extended with some additional features in celebration of the 150 year anniversary, elaborating on themes such as the construction of the first Underground lines and the early technological problems encountered – the (pictured) model of the early cut-and-cover method of construction is effective in demonstrating the sheer chaos involved. The interactive site for debate and comment on topics arising from and related to the Journal of Victorian Culture. Neither the service provider nor the domain owner maintain any relationship with the advertisers. Having studied Victorian mobilities for some years now, it came as some surprise to me to realise that I hadn’t yet visited the London Transport Museum, and with a range of new events and exhibits on display to celebrate the history of the Tube this was the perfect time to visit.
What emerges is a narrative about the interrelations between transport and geography, exploring the ways in which public transport systems have played a fundamental role in shaping, and being shaped by, the city.


In the context of the nineteenth century, one of the interesting and useful things about this is being able to grasp the comparative scale and size of different vehicles, and to better understand the development of different features across the century: the Shillibeer omnibus is surprising in its height and depth, while the steep winding steps to the top seats of the later Tilling “knifeboard” bus of 1875 must have presented rather a feat of manoeuvring to ladies in long skirts. The explanatory material focuses more on the historical and social contexts of transport developments rather than the technology, moving from the individual stories of drivers and crossing-sweepers, to wider issues of health, pollution, urbanization, and changing commuter practices. The railways, instead of enabling Londoners to live in the country, have turned the country into a city. The main addition to the Museum to mark the 150 year anniversary, Poster Art 150, makes for an interesting choice of material given that, I felt, there was much more to be added to the brief handling of the Tube’s history. The London Transport Museum is an all too brief exploration of the fascinating 200-year history of public transport in London, and to the Victorianist will undoubtedly open up more questions than it gives answers.
In case of trademark issues please contact the domain owner directly (contact information can be found in whois). An exhibition on Tube Poster Art opens this Friday 15th February, but apart from this there isn’t a specific exhibition area dedicated to the Underground anniversary.
A selection of the carriages throughout the exhibition are opened up for viewing, and taking a seat in the interiors of different carriages brings out interesting contrasts and comparisons between vehicle designs.


Literature, art and newspaper clippings provide a range of cultural perspectives, while maps of evolving transport networks are useful in visualising the spread of each technology throughout the century. Instead a number of new highlights have been incorporated into the regular collection, and so in what follows I’ve focused on both the museum as a whole and the new Tube at 150 exhibits. As many studies of railway carriage design will tell you, the interiors of later modes of transport are not dissimilar to those of earlier horse-drawn models; save for a shift in the direction of the seat (backs to the windows in the omnibus vs the side-on travel of the railway carriage that gives the traveller a view from the window), the luxury and comfort of the first-class carriage prevails across horse-drawn, railway, and underground transport. There are other details, though, that become clearer here: for example, the advertisements that adorn the exterior of the omnibus become a notable presence inside the carriage by the time we get to the Underground railway.



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