When you think of London what do you picture? The Queen, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace…or the iconic London Transport?
The London Transport Museum opened in Covent Garden in 1980 to showcase the heritage of travelling around the city on London Transport. The museum closed for extensive renovations in 2005 and reopened in 2007. The museum’s sister site London Transport Museum Depot is based in Acton and is a storage facility that holds regular open days throughout the year.
The London Transport Museum is one I have always enjoyed even as child. I don’t know if it’s because it is celebrates something that is so distinctly British or if it just appeals to that childhood excitement of big red buses and underground tube adventures but I have fond memories of it. I have always found it to be quite accessible too, not just in a prams/wheelchair user way, but as somewhere that everyone can level with and enjoy whoever you are.
Train enthusiastic Toddler in hand, Baby in the sling, and The Husband helping to shepherd us in the right direction, we set off to meet the grandparents at the London Transport Museum back in December. I wish I could say we actually went by bus, by train to get there but on this occasion we were running late, it was pouring down, and after a busy day the day before, I found myself contemplating cancelling the trip out after feeling that intense, unrelenting tiredness that often comes with parenting small children. Whilst I wanted to see London Transport, experiencing it first hand with two children on a Saturday in the rain made me cry a little. I ended up finding the Gett app (more about that here) which allows you to order a black cab and pay a fixed price through your phone. We thought it would be a laugh and chance it, and it actually worked out well with the kids and not too expensive
plus it made me feel super fancy.
The museum itself isn’t free unlike many museums in London. Tickets are £17.50 for adults with concessions at £15 plus a discount if you book online. Yes, it does seem like a lot of money but each adult ticket is an annual pass to the museum and under 18s go in for free. It is somewhere that you would want to go back to more than once so you really do get your money’s worth.
Once past the ticket desk and into the main foyer of the museum is the buggy park. There is a ramp up to the 1st floor and a lift so if you aren’t completely toddling, you’re covered.
The museum is set over 3 levels with the oldest models of transport at the top working down to newer. The Toddler was ecstatic to be amongst all the displays of trains, buses, and trams and in his element to be able to go inside the exhibits. To be honest, I think that alone makes it worth a visit for most people. I won’t bore you specifics as I am sure you can imagine what sort of things there are to see. A lot of the exhibits and displays are interactive so you can drive trains, press buttons, see how it works, and there is plenty of space for running around. It’s not too text heavy so you can get a quick read of what things are about whilst pinning down your escapee child.
As it probably is for most families with young children, The Baby is a bit of an innocent bystander when it comes to days out. A lot of what we do suits The Toddler’s need to run about more than it suits her. This was my initial thought for the London Transport Museum. The Toddler likes trains and running about and The Baby, well she sort of just watches her brother and chews things so we were pleasantly surprised that the All Aboard children’s gallery managed to cater to both.
The upper floor of All Aboard has a little train that the children can play in, a lost property desk, instruments and busking pitch, costumes, and a real bus they can play on too. Look out for little peep holes that show miniature train platforms hidden about the playarea.
To be honest, I thought that was all of the children’s area until we got downstairs and there was more There is a play area that has a double decker bus you can climb in, a Thames Nipper where you can serve customers at the refreshments bar, and Emirates cable car but most refreshingly there was The Baby Train. This is where The Baby got to stretch her legs. The Baby Train is a little soft play area with building blocks and sensory interactive wall made to look like a DLR train. There was also some toy food that had been lobbed in by kids playing in the Nipper but The Baby didn’t mind. I know I am probably easily impressed but it was so nice to have something that caters from 0-upwards and not just rambunctious toddlers.
Now just like in the telesales adverts on TV I must exclaim BUT WAIT…there’s more! Next to the All Aboard there is a wooden train table that is laid out with the exclusive Bigjigs London landmarks trainset and the Lower Deck cafe which had toilets and babychanging facilities close by.
On top of all of that, the museum also hosts storytelling, stay and play, SEN sessions, and other special events for children (see website for details) as well as all the other interactive activities throughout the museum making it a very full day. The bonus of the annual tickets is that there really is enough to keep you coming back -even if it’s just to let the kids run around in the play area.
After everyone in our little lot were all trained out (not The Toddler, never The Toddler) we decided to head off to get lunch via the gift shop of course where the Toddler and The Husband wanted everything and I just wanted a sit down by this point -and we were good, we did get the tube back home!