Saturday, May 2, 2009

London Transport Museum - showcase of London's lifeline

London Transport Museum is one museum a number of Londoners have not been before and they have good reasons not to. As a nation which thrives on the obsession of collecting and preserving bits and pieces of its history, there are countless museums, heritage and historical sites all over the UK, and as the capital, London is the home to many museums. A good number of them do not charge an entrance fee, the National Gallery, Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, British Museum and the London Museum are just some of the major ones. Each one of them is so extensively stocked that one could spend hours just going through each exhibit.

London+Transport+Museum

The London Transport Museum, on the other hand, sits right in the centre of Covent Garden piazza. The casual visitor distracted by the performances and shops at Covent Garden Market and the nearby Neil Street wouldn't probably even cast the London Transport Museum a second glance. That not even taking the London Transport Museum's entrance fee of £8 (add £2 for Gift Aid) into consideration.

That's a pity, really. For never has something so fundamental to the development of industrial Britain being so comprehensively covered in so compact a space. To be honest, I was quite disappointed when I flipped through the brochure, which accompanied the ticket. The layout of the museum was much smaller than anticipated. Obviously, that was a hasty judgement passed - I was still in the museum three hours later and had to rush through several exhibits as the it was near closing time.

London+Transport+Museum

The London Transport Museum visitor is ushered into a lift to the 2nd storey and is transported back to 1800 when transportation became a key factor influencing the development of London's commerce. Take note of the lift indicator, which rolls back from 2009 till 1800. I thought that was a nice touch.

What greeted me was the sedan. Yep, you heard that right. Never have I thought that the sedan, which is quintessentially Chinese, was popular in London as well. Horse drawn carriages were reserved for the well heeled until the horse drawn 'trams' came along and that brought the cost down by quite a bit. In a bid to bring that experience alive, there are lifesize models of vehicles and even voice overs depicting characters from all walks of life - from the horse manure remover to the tram drivers and the passengers.

As the visitor move on to the first and ground floor, he is transported (no pun intended) to the 20th century and the present day where trains and buses have become part and parcel of our lives. There is quite a fair bit on the challenges that the ageing system currently faces, which I missed as I hurried through the last bit.

£10 for more than three hours and some education on what makes London ticks. A bargain indeed.

London Transport Museum
Covent Garden Piazza
London, WC2E 7BB
tel: +44 (0)20 7379 6344

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7 comments:

Dutchie said...

Hmm ... museum is not my cuppa. The only exception r the exhibits of master painters like the dutch Rembrandt.

On national museum day, certain museums r open to the public for free n we hv been to the national museum in Amsterdam which houses lots of artifacts. The museum in Hoorn did charge us a fee but it was interesting to see the spice trade n seafaring life from the 18th century, which brought the golden age to the dutch
economy then.

I'm waiting for the chance to visit castles n forts when the national event is announced. Usually the viewing is limited to just a few short weeks in order to preserve the buildings. Lots of european towns has a wealth of castles .. that is top of my "must-see" list :-)

LadyBanana said...

I've been to the LT museum twice. First time about 10 or more years ago, second time was last year when it re-opened after the major refurbishment.

I loved it both times :)

Rosa said...

hi, i won the second place of pinayjade.com - im here to claim the ec credits: my profile link http://entrecard.com/details/122382

Digital Polaroids said...

Great post

C K said...

@Dutchie,
Just curious, are there any free museums over at your end? Honestly, I'm pretty surprised to find most major museums are free over here in London.

For castles, some say that Edinburgh castle and Leeds castle are the best in the UK. Spent almost half a day over at the first but I prefer Leeds castle anytime - it's more peaceful if you get what I mean.


@LadyBanana,
Was there major enhancement to the exhibition? :)

@Rosa,
Congrats! Will forward you the credits this very moment.


@Digital Polaroids,
Thanks!

Dutchie said...

CK, even with a moderate subsidy from the govt, most museums need extra cash to keep going.

In our one-horse-town, the little museum (heritage dutch house n its way of life being shown) charges 1,50. In the big cities like Amsterdam with busloads of tourists, the price r 10 times higher but then, the exhibits were acquired at enormous prices !

yoongz said...

Ok i'm late with commenting - catching up now - i LOVE museums - this will be one i would stop for if i'm in London again