London Transport Museum
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The Covent Garden site occupies an historic glass and brick Victorian building erected in 1871 as part of Covent Garden's old flower market.
At the turn of the 20th century the London General Omnibus Company started to preserve and collect buses as they were retired from active service. The LGOC was later absorbed into the London Electric Railway company, so the collection expanded to take in rail vehicles.
As the organisation of London's transportation system evolved, the collection grew. Some of the rail vehicles eventually made their way to the National Railway Museum in York, but what is left traces the history of London's transport system from its origins in the late 19th century, up to the present day.
What to See
See trams, trolleys, rail cars, and buses, plus posters, timetables, models, and transport equipment and tools from the early 19th century. One of the collection highlights is the very first underground electric train, launched in 1890. From the same time period is a 'padded cell' rail carriage. Then there's the familiar red London bus, both single and double-decker varieties.
See the original artwork created by Harry Beck for the iconic London Underground map, plus advertisements, and a special display on the evolution of the roundel transport logo used on all London's transportation.
The museum follows several main themes, including 19th century London, which shows how people got around the city before the advent of public transport. From water taxis to horse-drawn cabs and trams, see how London's transport system evolved. The Steam Underground exhibit looks at the world's first underground railway, the Metropolitan, which launched in 1863 with a rail link between Farringdon and Paddington station. Learn why the underground steam transport system was regarded as a form of mild torture by its users!
The Growth of the Suburbs exhibit looks at how the growing city made use of existing rail lines, and linked overground rail and underground tube links. One fascinating part of the story is how the Metropolitan Railway became a property developer itself, building new suburbs with easy access to its rail lines. The museum traces the development of underground lines as they delved deeper into the earth, and served as larger and larger metropolis.
See how the transportation system was used during both World Wars, and how the decrepit above ground system was reinvigorated with the introduction of the familiar Routemaster buses in 1959.
Younger visitors will enjoy the chance to climb aboard real buses and trains.
The museum is within the main Covent Garden plaza, and is within an easy walking distance of both Charing Cross rail and tube stations.
About London Transport Museum
Address: Covent Garden, London, Greater London, England, WC2E 7BB
Attraction Type: Museum
Location: In the Covent Garden piazza
Website: London Transport Museum
Phone: 020 7379 6344
OS: TQ305 809
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Nearest station: Covent Garden - 0.2 miles (straight line) - Zone: 1
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Covent Garden Market - 0 miles (Historic Building)
Theatre Royal Drury Lane - 0.1 miles (Historic Building)
Royal Opera House - 0.1 miles (Historic Building)
Somerset House - 0.2 miles (Museum)
Freemasons' Hall - 0.2 miles (Historic Building)
Courtauld Gallery - 0.2 miles (Museum)
Cleopatra's Needle - 0.3 miles (Landmark)
National Portrait Gallery - 0.3 miles (Museum)
Nearest Accommodation to London Transport Museum:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Nearest Tourist Information Centre ('as the crow flies')