With the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden closed until the Autumn, the capital's bus and train enthusiasts have had nowhere to go recently. Thank goodness for the Museum Depot in Acton Town, home to hundreds of thousands of pieces of transport ephemera, which occasionally unlocks its doors for an official Open Weekend. And then they come, out of the shadows, both young and old, to spend the day staring at tube trains and old trolleybuses and stuff. There was a ridiculously long queue outside yesterday morning, but I'd bought my ticket in advance and so walked past the lot of them. Damn, that probably makes me a bigger geek than any of them.
Once inside there was a lot to see. Several bits of trains are lined up in the main body of the warehouse, from old Metropolitan milk wagons to prototype Crossrail carriages. You're only allowed inside a couple of them, which gave several parents a chance to show their precocious offspring the semi-luxurious conditions in which they used to travel. A number of old buses have been crammed in along one side. Nothing too modern, you'll be glad to hear. Proper buses (some red, others green) with friendly drivers and conductors, and comfy seats, and route information on the front blinds. unlike many of the visitors I didn't remember any of the trams and trolleybuses, but some of the 60s and 70s vehicles looked nostalgically familiar.
Elsewhere there are ticket machines, signals, escalators and engine parts, and racks of smaller items such as clocks and fire buckets. There are 3D models of tube stations, built to assist engineers when the labyrinth of tubes and tunnels beneath was being extended. There's a big shop, where yesterday grown men were queueing to purchase a limited edition Acton 2007 diecast Routemaster 1:76 scale model (already selling on eBay for £89). Upstairs there are rows and rowsof station signs ("Look Daddy, Arsenal! Arsenal!"), and old maps, and even some old furniture from London Transport HQ. If you like this sort of thing, you'd have loved it. Maybe next time.
How "vaguely sociable" was it? Not even slightly. OK, so if you came with family and friends then it was very sociable indeed, and you could spend all day saying things like "Ooh, I remember that" and "Look Johnny, Daddy remembers that". If you were a true transport aficionado you could go round meeting like-minded souls and telling them "Of course, the Class B was withdrawn in 1957 and replaced by the frankly substandard twin-valve Class F." But I went by myself, and kept myself to myself, and kept reminding myself that actually I'm nowhere near as borderline Aspergers as I sometime think I might be.