In the heart of London’s Covent Garden, the London Transport Museum brings the history of transport in London to life.
• Explore a collection of iconic London red buses showing how the design changed subtly through the decades.
• Discover the world’s first underground train that ran on steam – and a Victorian railway carriage.
• Climb aboard real trams and buses in the interactive galleries – please mind the gap!
What to see and do
19th Century London and Victorian Transport
Learn how transport in London has changed over the centuries when you explore the collection of Victorian horse-drawn carriages. Interactive exhibits allow you to step back in time while audio guides explain how the first trams and early railways transformed the sights, sounds, and smells of the capital city, as thousands of horse-drawn vehicles were no longer needed.
The World’s First Underground
Discover how the first underground system in the world was constructed. As you explore the collection, listen to the audio guide with the individual stories of the navvies, the workmen who dug out the first tunnels by hand. Not to be missed is the only underground steam locomotive still in existence. Learn how steam engines notoriously contributed to the foggy London atmosphere – by the 1890s they were replaced by a system powered by electricity.
London Transport at War
Find out how London Transport contributed to the national war effort in both the First and Second World Wars. Fascinating exhibits with figures in historically accurate costumes bring the period to life. Tube trains were kept running all through the Second World War, despite being used as air-raid shelters. Step back in time with a pre-booked guided tour of disused Underground stations such as Charing Cross, where hundreds of people sheltered during the blitz.
London by Design
Admire the iconic designs and artwork for which London Transport has always been renowned. Browse the work of leading artists and designers, including Art Deco posters, easy to read signage, and of course the world-famous London Underground Map. A frequently changing selection of the stunning archive is always on display.
On the Surface After 1945
Climb aboard a Routemaster bus and discover how London Transport met the challenge of ever more passengers during the 1950s and 60s. Trolleybuses and trams were gradually replaced by the instantly recognisable Routemaster double-deckers. Learn about changes on the railways during this period with a hands-on exhibit of a signalling system. All the exhibits are family-friendly with a good mix of information and interactive activities for children and adults alike.
Did you know: (4 interesting facts!)
1. The London Transport Museum collection was formerly on display at Syon Park in Ealing before moving to its present site in Central London.
2. The glass and iron hall of the London Transport Museum is part of the former Covent Garden flower market, a building that now has the ambience of a bustling Victorian railway station.
3. London Transport Museum is home to more than 500,000 objects, from poster art to locomotives.
4. While the museum in Covent Garden is spacious, there is still not enough room for many of the larger items in the collection. Trains and other large pieces are held at the vast Depot in Acton, West London, which is open to visitors for pre-booked guided tours and workshops, and on three open weekends per year.
• 1871 – William Rogers designs the glass and iron building to house Covent Garden’s flower market.
• 1971 – the flower market was relocated and the building lay empty for several years.
• 1973 – The London transport Museum opened at Syon Park. The collection had previously been held at Clapham.
• 1980 – the London Transport Museum opened in its new home in the Covent Garden piazza.
• 1999 – the Depot opened in Acton.
• 2005 – the Museum closed for a major refurbishment project.
• 2007 – the Museum reopened.
Facilities and accessibility
The London Transport Museum is fully accessible, with toilets and baby changing facilities on the ground floor and lifts to other levels.
Not all the historic vehicles exhibited are accessible.
Early and evening special openings allow visitors with SEN (Special Educational Needs) and ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) to explore the collections at quieter times.
The Canteen serves food and drink – including train shaped pasta – all day or bring your own picnic and enjoy it in the Lower Deck cafe/bar.