I love London, for all the museums and child-friendly things to do and I love it that we live close, so we’re making it a mission to have a trip up town at least every school holiday to experience the sights.
We took a little trip to the London Transport Museum recently as Fin is still obsessed with all things buses and trains and I’d wanted to go there for a while. Elle and Fin’s request over half term was that we took a trip on a train or a tube so the journey was just as important as the museum trip. To fulfil their request, we did end up taking a ridiculous detour just to go on a tube but the children loved it and it made me remember that although we’ve moved out a little, I still love London and want to make sure we take the children to visit London regularly and celebrate all its chaos and wonder.
The Transport Museum is in a fantastic location, when we arrived there was a queue and so we decided to have a spot of lunch in Covent Garden watching all the bizarre comedy street performers in the square. Fin and Elle particularly liked the two jugglers who were doing some good old fashioned juggling with clubs on unicycles. The queue moved quickly and so we headed into the museum. You follow a kind of back in time journey with a card that gets stamped at various ‘check in points’. This, in my opinion, is an ingenious way to get children to ‘keep moving’. Our kids were obsessed with stamping their card and making sure they were visiting all the check in points, so much so that there was dismay all around when a stamping machine broke and we had to return later to check it was fixed, which thankfully it was.
I was surprised at how much there is to go on at the Transport Museum. You can stand on the old buses and go in and have a sit down on the old trains and trams. Fin’s favourite part was hopping on to drive a London Bus (well, pretend anyway) and Elle couldn’t believe that buses used to be pulled by horse and cart! However, I think they were most astounded by the not-so-old-buses that you used to hop on and off whenever you felt like it. Looking at the now, it did actually seem ridiculously dangerous that we were allowed to do this, not having to wait for a stop and just hopping on and off. Elle and Fin were jealous that we remember these from our childhood and I think I’ll be hard pressed to keep them sat down on a bus, next time we go on one!
What makes the museum so successful however, is that there are huge amounts of information about the development of London’s transport infrastructure, how this reflected the social and political trends of the time, and visions of what the future may hold. I particularly enjoyed recognising all the old vintage tube and transport adverts and even the material that was used on trains for the seats, and how this has changed. Elle and Fin were fascinated with the models demonstrating how the tube was dug out without machines and simply with manpower after the war. I loved that the museum is set in the old Covent Garden Market which is a stunning building with a beautifully high iron wrought ceiling. They have letters hanging down from the rafters which cascade around you and makes a spectacular display.
Baby Archie was a bit non-plussed at the whole event but he slept well going round in his buggy and he wasn’t phased by the tube. All the baby facilities at the museum were easy to use and there were lifts for the buggies.
Overall, it’s a great place to take children in London and as the tickets allow you to go back as many times as you like in a year, we’ll try to visit again soon!