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Craig recommends… Here’s my latest London Transport Museum review. Or how about riding around on some real buses and trains instead? The best sightseeing buses in London are the Original Tour and Big Bus Tour. The number 11 bus is a cheap alternative. I’ve also put together a marathon bus journey around the whole of London. Or how about a boat ride on the river? The best ones are City Cruises, TRS and the Thames Clippers. The Docklands Light Railway monorail is worth a try as well.
The London Transport Museum is next-door to the Covent Garden Piazza, and houses over 350,000 transport exhibits from the last two centuries.
You can see full-sized examples of early horse-drawn buses, steam trains, trams and even an old 1960s tube train carriage.
Most of the exhibits are fully interactive and great for kids – they can climb up the (very steep!) stairs, sit in the seats, peer into the cabins, and pretend they’re pressing all the buttons. They can even have a go as a train station announcer.
The museum also has an extensive collection of old black and white photos, pictures, paintings, posters and maps of the capital, plus plenty of old uniforms and badges.
This review originally appeared in his London blog
There are few things in life more embarassing than visiting the London Transport Museum. It ranks up there alongside having to buy a Mariah Carey CD for your sister’s birthday. But at least I have an excuse: I have to do it for this website. So I’m not a train spotter or anything like that – let me make that clear straight away.
I like riding on London buses, sure – especially when it’s chucking it down with rain and I need to get home before I catch a cold – but I wouldn’t stand on a bridge taking photos of them. So with that in mind, and totally understood by everyone, let me tell you about the London Transport Museum.
It’s actually not that bad. Once you have slipped inside like an unseen shadow and are amongst all the transport lovers you don’t mind having a look around. And to be fair they have got quite a decent collection of vehicles. I suppose I would best describe it as a big warehouse room with three different levels, and because the middle bit is completely open you can look down onto all the buses and trains below.
The first thing you’ll see is a black taxi (the same ones that you can see in the street for free), plus a load of double-decker buses. And they’ve lined them all up in date order so you see how they’ve morphed into a shiny red Routemaster from the old platform-at-the-back ones. They’ve even got some really old wooden buses with stairs as steep as Everest. (They were so steep that I had actually had to have a sit on the top-deck for five minutes plucking up the courage to come back down!)
Upstairs they’ve got some old tube train carriages from the 1960s that you can step inside, kitted them out with waxwork passengers (all looking remarkably agitated about something… perhaps the waxwork ticket inspector is about to come down and bust them for trying to dodge their fare).
There are plenty of architectural models dotted around, of the tube tunnels and stations, and a rather atmospheric mock-up of how the workers used to dig out the London underground tunnels with nothing but a gas-lamp and a spade.
And then comes the really old stuff – the horse drawn carriages and Hackney cabs. Hackney cabs were basically just a big box on poles where the rich would sit, probably hugely overweight, and then the poor runners had to pick them up and carry them around town.
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If you enjoy this then try: Covent Garden (you can walk it in less than 2 mins) and Museum of London (walk it in 24 mins or catch a train from Covent Garden to Museum of London).
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