London Transport Museum explores the story of London and its transport system over the last 200 years, highlighting the powerful link between transport and the growth of modern London, culture and society since 1800. We care for over 450,000 items - preserving, researching and acquiring objects to use in our galleries, exhibitions and other activities.
As well as exploring the past, the Museum looks at present-day transport developments and concepts for urban transportation in the future, which includes a contemporary collecting policy for the benefit of future generations.
The Museum was granted charitable status in 2007 which has enabled us to secure funding from new sources such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, and trusts and foundations including the Luke Rees-Pulley Charitable Trust, thereby extending our learning and engagement programmes. This funding enables the Museum to offer learning opportunities, skills development and engaging programming to a wide variety of audiences.
London Transport Museum is housed in the old Grade II-listed Flower Market building in Covent Garden Piazza.
Markets selling ‘fruits, flowers, roots and herbs’, were established in Covent Garden by the Earl of Bedford, who owned most of the land in the area, in 1670. It became London’s principal vegetable, fruit and flower market and in the 1830s permanent buildings replaced the traders’ stalls in the central square. As the market grew, additional buildings for specialist trading grew up around the Piazza.
The Flower Market Building, which was designed by William Rogers and dates back to 1871, was the centre of London’s wholesale flower business for the next 100 years, trading every day except Christmas. In 1974 the market was relocated to modern warehouses at Nine Elms in Vauxhall, south London. The old market buildings were restored and the Flower Market became the home of London Transport Museum – opening in 1980.
In 2005 the Museum closed for major redesign and refurbishment, which was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and almost 100 corporate partners, trusts and foundations. The refurbishment has conserved the character and architecture of the historic building whilst providing a contemporary backdrop for the collection and energy saving features. A major benefit has been that, thanks to improved environmental conditions, much more of the Museum’s collection of posters and artworks can go on long term public display.
The collection originated in the 1920s, when the London General Omnibus Company decided to preserve two Victorian horse buses and an early motorbus for future generations. The Museum of British Transport opened in an old bus garage in Clapham, south London, during the 1960s, before moving to Syon Park in west London in 1973 as the London Transport Collection.
In 1980, the public display moved again, this time to occupy the Victorian Flower Market building in Covent Garden as London Transport Museum.