diamond geezer

 Monday, April 25, 2016

10 things you can see at the London Transport Museum Depot

It's in Acton. It's open for a couple of weekends a year. You just missed one.



1) Old tube trains: When old tube stocks die, at least one carriage is normally shunted off to the LTM Depot for safekeeping. The most recent additions are the old Victoria line stock (died 2011), the old Metropolitan line 'A' Stock (died 2012) and the old subsurface 'C' Stock (died 2014). A single District 'D' Stock will no doubt be squeezed in by the end of the year. But there are also some seriously old carriages in the collection, some made of wood, others with pointy windows, and others sheer Thirties luxury compared to what we ride today (although I bet the suspension was worse). The oddest carriage is probably the 1986 Stock Central line prototype, which is green, and was part of a full-scale consultation (with 'red' and 'blue') to see which the public preferred. Red won, but how sleek our journeys might have been if green had triumphed.

2) Old tube maps: Upstairs on the mezzanine you'll find a selection of tube maps that once graced platforms in days gone by. Some of the earliest are enamelled geographically accurate beauties, often part-eroded, while some of the postwar bunch are ugly angular concoctions best hidden away in an archive. If you're a Londoner, obviously the first thing you do each time is hunt down the section of the map where you live, but a much more enjoyable quest is to track down lines since closed and stations since renamed. Clapham South was nearly called Nightingale Lane, who knew?



3) Old tube signs: Rather more of the mezzanine is taken up by station signs of all kinds, from roundels to line diagrams to those long thin nameplate things that run across the top of platforms, saved here to preserve the vast variety of types and styles generated over the years. The roundels come in all sizes and fill at least four gangways, hence a much-repeated activity at Acton is to hover around the end of one of the gangways waiting for it to clear of people so you can take a photo. The line diagrams are often more interesting, especially if they're for lines that were never built, or contain stations long since renamed, or even have a ghastly error (which it was hard to fix in the era of costly hand-created enamel). There's probably an old sign from your local station (I eventually found a Croxley, though not a Bow Church), but also dozens you'll never have imagined existing.

4) Old Overground signs: Not every old sign is worth keeping, so several traders turn up at these depot open days with the intention of flogging old stuff to the punters, and this weekend their haul included frshly-removed vinyl-covered signs from the outer reaches of the New Overground. A whole stack of Hackney Downs, Silver Streets and Bush Hill Parks were up for grabs, at a not entirely unreasonable price, made redundant in their original locations by the provision of bespoke orange enamelled replacements. And by golly they were selling well, despite their enormous size, presumably because train fanatics living up the Lea Valley hadn't previously had much in the way of TfL signage to acquire before the Overground arrived. I was very interested to see if any Theobalds Groves were available, this being the station where I caught contractors last year erecting a spelling mistake, but alas seemingly no.

5) Acton Miniature Railway: It's only rarely open to the public, when Depot Open Days permit, but this short miniature railway is seven and a quarter inches of ride-on pleasure. A ride from Depot Approach up towards Ealing End costs only a quid, and it's not only for children (although most of those on board either were or had recently sired some).



6) A spiral escalator: Several large-ish objects have ended up at the Depot, from generator panels to signalling systems, and old lightboxes to yellow ticket gates. One particular oddity is the remains of the experimental spiral escalator installed around the circumference of the second lift shaft at Holloway Road station in 1906. It had two separate helical tracks, one up and one down, and unsurprisingly didn't work, indeed its operational lifespan is believed to have been measured in hours rather than days or weeks. Swiftly scrapped, a brief section was later recovered from the bottom of the shaft, and this symbol of misplaced technological optimism now rests on a pallet near the Depot entrance for visitor perusal.

7) Station models: Before a new station, or station feature, is created, somebody often feels the need to knock up a model to explain to everyone else what it'll look like. They're often big models too, hence take up quite a bit of room, for example that for the installation of the Bank Travelator, or the entrance piazza for Canary Wharf. One particularly whopping example is for Oxford Circus, with all the intertwined passageway tunnels faithfully reproduced, another created for the post-fire inquiry at King's Cross, and (my favourite) a scale model of the Stratford area before the Olympics were even dreamed of showing where the new-fangled Channel Tunnel Rail Link might go.

8) Lego tube trains: Danish plastic blocks are very 'in' at the moment, if indeed they ever went away. So it was no surprise to find at least two exhibitors had knocked up some splendid railway-based Lego exhibits, the most impressive from @Cheshambricks who had not only a model 55 Broadway with a station underneath, but also a full Baker Street style cutaway with with two layers of railway below and a streetful of different type of buses above. Their pile of £20 four-carriage Lego tube trains sold out very quickly.



9) The poster store: Out the back, in the bit that most visitors never see, are various rooms for the storage of small and paper-based items. One of these is a large L-shaped room in which TfL's poster archive is stored, tucked away in a variety of drawers, and with a select few on display around the wall. But it was possible to get in if you joined one of this weekend's special taster tours, this with an Edward Johnston theme as the depot celebrated the centenary of his font and all things lettered. While our guide pointed at something the curator thought relevant, but not necessarily exciting, my eyes were spinning round the entire room to soak in the other typographical beauties on display. Full hour-and-a-bit tours of the poster store are available, at other times, for those who'd like to dig further.

10) The Big Steam Print: Meanwhile out the back, near the food trucks, this weekend's special attraction was a steamroller wheeled in from Sussex. The Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft have an Edward Johnston exhibition on at the moment (I've been, you should too), and used their giant press to print a variety of arty posters and etchings by rolling heavily over the top. Hell, why not?

» I last visited the Depot in 2007, and shared 20 photos. This time round I've added 25 more. Not much has changed. Here's the full 45, as a gallery and as a slideshow.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sunday 2nd October (8.30-6.30)
Thames Barrier Closure
Annual all-day test, peaking around high tide at 3pm.

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv