Unlock the secrets of London Transport Museum’s Depot

London Transport Museum’s Depot has been open to the public since 1999, but very few people know the full story of how the Depot, which houses more than 320,000 objects from the Museum’s collection, came into existence. As part of London Transport Museum’s final Depot Open Days for 2022, visitors can hear from a range of Museum historians and curators, transport experts and volunteers about what it takes to keep a collection store of this size running smoothly.

The ‘Depot Unlocked’ Open Days are taking place on Thursday 22 September to Sunday 25 September at the London Transport Museum Depot in Acton Town, west London. Over the course of the four day event, visitors will be able to hear from speakers who know the Depot better than most. On Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September, London Transport Museum’s Director Sam Mullins OBE will talk about the building’s history and how the team turned the Depot from a working repair centre into the wonderful hub for collections care, community learning and outreach people know today.

Across the Open Days, visitors can hear from members of London Transport Museum’s curatorial team who will lift the lid on the work they do to care for the huge range of collection objects, from London’s first red Routemaster bus to historic maps and signs, and even a futuristic prototype Tube train from 1986.

On Thursday 22 September, Senior Curator Georgia Morley will talk about the project supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund to research and protect the Museum’s wonderful moquette collection. Moquette is the iconic woollen seating fabric used on public transport all over the world and requires a great deal of care to protect from various pests and even light pollution.

On Sunday 25 September, Documentary Curator Rosamund Lily West will discuss the most recent contemporary collecting projects including stories, objects and experiences to chart the journey of the Elizabeth line opening to the public.

On Thursday 22 September, Stephen Umpleby, conservator with Artefacts Conservation Services, will explain how he has restored and repaired objects in the Museum’s collection. He will reveal the processes and materials needed to sensitively restore historic objects in a way that is reversible and true to the heritage of the artefact.

Even more of the team will be on hand to talk about how they care for London Transport Museum’s vast collection, and the different techniques needed to look after a 100 year old motor bus versus a vintage poster from the 1950s.

London Transport Museum Director, Sam Mullins OBE, said:

‘With such a rich and varied collection, there is a wealth of associated stories and knowledge preserved at the Museum Depot. Opening the doors is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the huge amount of work that goes into caring for our collection. I’m looking forward to being able to share more of this knowledge with our visitors in September.’

‘Hack the Collection’ is a special lecture taking place on both Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September giving visitors the inside track on what tell-tale signs they should look out for when exploring the Depot. Visitors will learn insider knowledge such as being able to identify which architect designed a particular Tube station, or what the number of lines on an arrow can tell you on an Underground sign.

Over the course of the Open Days, various tours to many secret parts of the Depot will be taking place. Depot Discovery tours of both the bus or train sheds are a must to learn about the heritage vehicles that are stored at the London Transport Museum Depot.

Much of the work achieved at the Depot would not be possible without the enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of volunteers and London Transport Museum Friends who work on-site throughout the year. On Thursday 22, Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September, talk to the team as they progress with work on Q stock train cars dating from the 1930s which are being restored to their former glory.

The Depot shop will be open offering exclusive gifts and souvenirs, from moquette pattern socks, scarves and cushions, to framed posters, limited-edition prints and authentic Underground signs. Refreshments will be available from Mini Bean Coffee.

Timed tickets to visit the London Transport Museum Depot must be booked in advance online. Adult tickets cost £15 and tickets for children cost £7.50. Kids aged 3 and under go free. Concessions are available including local resident tickets for residents of Ealing, Hounslow or Hillingdon. To book visit: https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/depot/september


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