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London Transport Museum

London Transport Museum Refurbishment

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London Buses at the London Transport Museum
© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.
London's First Omnibus at the London Transport Museum
© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.
London Transport Museum
© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The London Transport Museum reopened in 2007 following a £22 million refurbishment project that dramatically improved the Museum's Victorian Grade II listed building.

The galleries show the development of London and its transport systems, along with giving an insight into the lives of past commuters and transport workers over the past 200 years. It also looks at future transport projects and compares London's transport to five other major world cities: Delhi, New York, Paris, Shanghai, and Tokyo.

The Museum was the first historic Grade II listed building in the UK to install a large scale solar panel system. The panels should generate around 16 per cent of the Museum’s energy needs.

Pros:

  • Fully accessible
  • Free cloakroom (can accommodate buggies)
  • Chance to try driving a tube train
  • Can dress up and pretend to drive a bus

Cons:

  • If you stop to use the cafe you have to go back to the top floor to get back down to the lower floors
  • Too many computer displays that could go wrong

Visit Duration: 2 hours+

London Transport Museum History

London Transport Museum's collection was started back in the 1920s but was brought to its present home in Covent Garden in 1980. The building looks like a Victorian railway station but was in fact the Flower Market building for Covent Garden till 1974. It also reminds me of the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green which is another large Victorian building.

Museum Highlights It's hard to choose but I would include the chance to pretend to drive a tube train. Instructions were still being printed when I visited but it was quite straight forward. You have to make the train go fast in the tunnels, keep an eye out for stop signs, and stop in each station with all the carriages next to the platform - not in the tunnel!

I also enjoyed dressing up and pretending to drive a London bus in the over 6s play area. I'd also recommend climbing in train carriages (where allowed) as it's a lot of fun.

Museum Opening Hours

Monday to Thursday, Saturday & Sunday 10am-6pm (last admission 5.15pm)
Friday 11am-6pm (last admission 5.15pm)
Do confirm latest opening hours on the official website.

Admission Adults £10 approx.
Under 16s: Free
Check latest opening hours on the official website.

Address:
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7379 6344

Official Website: www.ltmuseum.co.uk

Nearest Tube Stations:

  • Covent Garden
  • Charing Cross
  • Holborn
  • Leicester Square

Use Journey Planner to plan your route on public transport.

Upper Deck Café Bar
This small gallery cafe offers informal dining and cocktails. There is only table service available (no self-service) so the prices are somewhat expensive at £2 for a pot of tea and £6.50+ for lunch. Do note, a 12.5% service charge is added to your bill so there's no need to leave a gratuity.

Souvenirs
There is a well-stocked shop that is great for gift shopping, including plenty of 'pocket money' toys.

London Transport Museum Review
There's a sloped walkway to lead you to the first elevators (lifts) that take you to Level 2 and the start of the museum tour. Once the doors close an audio sets the scene taking you back in time to London in 1880. Here you can see London's first omnibus and horse-drawn transport from the day.

Take the elevator or steps to Level 1 and see a fabulous model of the underground train tunnels being dug. When you look through the viewers you can also hear audio of the characters you see.

This side of Level 1 also has a steam locomotive from the world's first underground railway: the Metropolitan Railway from 1866.

If you need to relax, take a seat in the 1930s living room as the armchairs and sofa have speakers in the backrest so you can sit back and watch the TV.

Walk round to the other side and there's a study area and information desk plus a play area for 6 years and over (yes, that includes you!) where you can pretend to drive a real bus. Don't forget to get your uniform out of the closet and dress up before playing along. There are plenty of interactive puzzles in this area but I felt they needed more instructions as I was unsure how to work them all.

Moving down to Level 0 you come to the under 6s play area called "All Aboard!". This also has a table and chairs picnic area with extra space available for busy times.

I took a break after this to visit the cafe for a 'pit stop' before carrying on. The cafe is above the shop so you have to go out of the main area of the museum. Do remember to hold onto your ticket in case you do want to stop for a drink and a snack as you have to re-enter the museum at the main entrance. I then found it frustrating as I had to get the elevator to Level 2, then down another elevator to Level 0.

When I visited floor plans were not available but I've been informed they are now provided at the main entrance which will help you find your way around the museum. There is a recommended route so follow the signs so that you don't miss anything.

Museum Website: www.ltmuseum.co.uk

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