Oh, the London Transport Museum. I was debating whether I should visit this museum or not since the £16 (~$24.67 USD) admission price is pretty expensive, but I felt like I should since I am considering getting a degree in transportation planning in the future. Your ticket also grants you unlimited entry for one year, which is a pretty decent perk.
The museum is in Covent Garden and there are a bunch of shops to browse through in the area.
As its name suggests, the London Transport Museum showcases the evolution of transportation in London from the 19th century to the present day. The 19th century saw the development of river taxis, the omnibus, steamboats, railways, and horse-drawn cabs. Side note: I don’t know why all my pictures from the museum are so weird. It’s probably just the lighting. Or ghosts. Yeah, I blame ghosts.
As you continue along the path, you learn more about the Metropolitan, the world’s first underground railway, which opened in 1863. The steam underground was the precursor to the tube system in place today. As suburbs developed outside the city, the underground and railway systems needed to develop some more, which created the complex system of lines that stretch across the city. There are currently 11 lines, but they service 270 stations.
The 20th century puts a lot of focus on the bus boom that overtook horse power on land. Within a span of less than ten years, from 1921 to 1930, the amount of bus journeys people made in London per year had doubled. There are several different bus models on the ground floor to check out.
There’s some more information about more modern development of the tube, including this demo where you can try out being a tube train operator. I failed. Near the end, the museum explores ideas for transportation in the future and that actually interested me a lot. After that, you pretty much return to where you started and head to the exit.
Other things that I feel like I should point out: You can actually board some of the exhibits to see what these vehicles were like on the inside. You can also grab this paper near the beginning of the museum that you can use to collect stamps (well, the first one was a stamp and the rest were different shapes hole-punched into your card). That was kind of addicting.
Here are also some assorted facts:
- The Oyster card system was introduced in 2003 and there are over ten million of them now in circulation.
- The word “bus” comes from the word “omnibus”, which means “for all” in Latin.
- By 1900, at least 100,000 Londoners had been displaced by the development of the train system.
- In order to get their license, cab drivers in the 1920s and 1930s had to pass “the Knowledge”, which tested their smarts on potential routes, street names, and destinations.
- Many women were bus conductors during WWII, but women weren’t allowed to be drivers until a law came out in 1974 giving women the ability to be considered for any job.
- During the war, tube platforms were used as shelters to escape air raids.
Honestly, while the museum was interesting, I don’t think the price for admission was justified and it really should cost less than what it is charging now. I think out of all the places that I went to on my trip, this was the only one were I felt like I didn’t get my money’s worth, which is a bummer. It’s nice, but it isn’t £16 nice.