On a cold January morning I set out with my five year old son on a trip to the newly refurbished London Transport Museum. It would prove to be well worth the long train journey and provide us with plenty to talk about through the cold winter days.
The Museum is very reasonably priced; unusually only adults have to pay to get in, so our entry cost only £8 for the two of us. We also discovered that the museum was trialling a free punch card, which encouraged young visitors to find numbered “stations” where they punched different shapes onto their collector’s card – this kept both of us interested and was a good addition to the experience. I hope this becomes a permanent feature.
On arrival, you are encouraged to go straight up in the lift to the top floor; during your lift journey you travel back in time 200 years, (with appropriate sound effects, music etc) and step out into Victorian London. There you can experience the very beginnings of passenger transport in London, (complete with fake horse manure, a detail my 5 year old keeps reminding me of), and, as you work your way down the various levels, you see how it has changed, and even how it may develop into the future.
Children can act out being a bus driver, can “ride” on a tube train, and can enjoy the full British Rail carriage experience. Adults and older children can learn about the challenges facing London’s transport, and, through a number of short films, can see how the development of transport was inextricably linked with the growth of London’s suburbs.
Another highlight for me was seeing wartime footage of people sheltering in the underground during the Blitz, together with a documentary about how they were fed by special catering trains that took tea and food around the underground network.
Adults should be aware that it is a museum about transport in London, rather than a general transport museum, and all the information relates specifically to the unique situation in our capital. This should not affect the enjoyment of young children.
It is clear that much thought has gone into this refurbishment. The needs of young families have been considered; I was delighted to find a “picnic area” within the museum, where tables and chairs are set aside for people bringing their own lunch. Alternatively there is a stylish café and bar at the top of the building serving refreshments all day.
I would thoroughly recommend this museum for children of all ages. It can be enjoyed at many different levels of understanding; even adults will find that they come away having learnt something new.
The London Transport Museum is at Covent Garden Piazza, London, WC2E 7BB. For more information, opening times and admission visit www.ltmuseum.co.uk
About the Author:
Alex Freeman is a freelance writer specialising in parenting and family topics and can be contacted via eParenting.