How lovely is your dwelling place…

…oh, London Transport.

Today, I spent three exceptionally pleasant hours in the dwelling place of the history of London Transport. Astonishingly, given that:
(i) I love London Transport and all its works
(ii) I live just 10 minutes walk from its location
this was my very first visit to its premises in Covent Garden. Also surprisingly, when I mentioned the museum in yesterday’s Friday Fun, I had absolutely no idea that I’d be visiting it the following day. Unsurprisingly, I had a jolly good time.

Well, who wouldn’t? I got to drive three different types of tube train and a bus. (My tube driving improved slowly. By the third line, I’d mastered the art of stopping within the station – no mean feat on the Jubilee Line extension, I’ll have you know!) Needless to say, the driving was simulated – though the controls were exactly the same as the trains. In fact, if I can be permitted to gripe, the simulators are not suitable activities for small children – wielding the controls requires quite a strong right arm and three year olds don’t tend to possess such a thing.

Northern Line SimulatorComing up to the station. (I definitely overshot this one.)

Actually, another gripe regards the bus. A transport museum frequented by geeks of the first order is not the location in which to make a bus faux pas. The bus behind whose wheel one could sit was a number 9 on the outside, but a RV1 on the inside. As it was a modern double-decker, it would be impossible for it to be a RV1 as that particular route (which runs along the river – hence the ‘RV’) is only a small single-decker. [I’m not just being geeky, it happens to be one of my favourite routes.]

Bus driving joysSuper excited sitting on the driver’s seat & the peculiar bit of a bus for driving.

Anyway, the whole thing was a delight. From the lovely ticket office lady who allowed me a student ticket despite my lack of ID (I had a plethora of library cards and a believable story about being a student vicar); to the woman at the end who chatted with us while we completed her survey, it was lovely. The current exhibition of posters was as brilliant as I’d hoped – this was a favourite:

Heels - safety firstThe dangers of wearing heels..

We had clearly been identified as childish adults, as we each received a stamp card presumably designed to amuse children as they wend their way around the displays. Finding the relevant stamps certainly added a frisson of excitement to the visit.

Completed stampcardNote the presence of too many stamps in the bottom right corner. Someone couldn’t quite get the hang of the stamping machine…

There are myriad forms of London Transport – I guess that might be obvious – plus a fairly comprehensive history of how London Transport as an entity came to be. Given that I’m a geek, a lot of it wasn’t news, but it was terribly exciting to sit in old train stock and explore ancient buses. (I’m easily pleased.)

IMG_9861Ladies only to Rickmansworth

LT Roundel Coffee TableRoundel coffee table – I *need* this in my life!

On the Circle LineOn the District/Circle Line

Bus blinds What bus blinds look like when unrolled – I’m staggered they’re this long!

To be honest, my only disappointment was that there wasn’t anything about my favourite area of transport geekery – ghost stations. Surely that would be fun for all the family? Similarly, there was virtually nothing about the darker side of the transport network. There’s a small section on the two world wars and a blink-and-you’d-miss-it mention of the 1987 King’s Cross fire, but I didn’t spot any mention of 7/7. I guess it is a family destination, but plenty of other places manage to balance the harder aspects of history with the light-hearted.

Floating SignageFloating signage

Anyway, the brilliant thing about my ticket is that it lasts an entire year, so I can go back and practice my tube driving skills until I can safely drive a train, and catch up on all the artefacts and gems I no doubt missed. Normally I’d slightly resent paying £11.50 for a museum trip, but not when there’s plenty of scope for return visits. Oh, and ironically – given how many times I’ve visited it before – we didn’t have time to go to the shop, so that needs to be done too.

(There are a few more photos on Flickr.)

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