Overview of our collections
London Transport Museum collects items that reflect all aspects of the history of public transport in London from 1800 to the present day. Ranging from uniform buttons to complete Tube trains, the Museum's collections are the most comprehensive of their type anywhere in the world, numbering some 375,000 items.
A stunning variety of vehicles, signs, photographs, posters, drawings, uniforms and architectural material make up the core of the collection. But we are just as interested in documenting the social history of transport, and actively collect games, models and small items relating to both staff and passenger experience.
Highlights from some of these collections can now be viewed online. More material is regularly added as part of our ongoing commitment to increase public access.
London Transport Museum is fully accredited under the national standards scheme run by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.
History of our collections
Collecting material associated with London's transport dates back to the 1920s, when the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) first decided to preserve some of its historic vehicles. The centenary celebrations of London's buses in 1929 also encouraged early preservation moves, which were continued and developed by London Transport after 1933.
Public display of what were then called 'relics' started at the Museum of British Transport in the 1960s. This was set up by the British Transport Commission in a former bus garage in Clapham. It was closed down when a National Railway Museum was set up at York in the early 1970s. London Transport decided, however, to keep its collections in the Capital, using a garden pavilion at Syon Park to display them.
A proper London Transport Museum opened in Covent Garden in 1980. Trading had ended in the historic Covent Garden Flower Market in 1974, when the working market moved to Nine Elms in south London. Two years later the Greater London Council (GLC) agreed a new use for the listed Victorian building as a museum.
The Museum's collections continued to grow. London Transport's extensive archive of films and photographs, as well as its large artwork and poster collection, were added in the 1980s. Documenting and recording the collections fully on a computer database formed part of the Museum's core research.
A purpose-built Museum Depot was created at Acton Town in the 1990s with financial assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This facility now provides secure and environmentally controlled storage and care on one site for all the Museum collections that are not on display in Covent Garden. There is regular public access through open weekends and special Museum Depot tours.
Museum Depot at Acton Town