Moquette Project

District moquette

Moquette, which comes from the French word for carpet, is a tough woollen fabric that is used in upholstery on public transport all over the world. 

The fabric is produced using a weaving technique known as jacquard and is typically made of 85% wool and 15% nylon. The woollen pile has good thermal properties, making it cool in summer and warm in winter.

A history of moquette

Lozenge moquette

Moquette was first applied to public transport seating in London in the 1920s when the patterns were designed by the manufacturers.

The first moquette pattern was called Lozenge, made in 1923 by Firth Furnishings Ltd. It followed the fashions in home furnishings and art deco styles of the day.

 
Shield drawing moquette


With the creation of London Transport in the 1930s, Chief Executive, Frank Pick and his Publicity Officer, Christian Barman commissioned established artists and designers to create stylish, contemporary patterns for the Capital’s transport system.

Under Pick’s direction, design was key to producing and promoting a quality public transport system.

This artwork shows a sketch of the Shield moquette.

 
Leaf moquette

It was at this time that moquette was transformed from a practical seating fabric to a design icon.

Textile designers such as Enid Marx, Marion Dorn and Paul Nash were commissioned by London Transport to produce exclusive moquette designs.

Geometric and contemporary, these new moquettes were radically different from the floral patterns produced previously. This 'Leaf' or 'Colindale' moquette was introduced in the 1940s.

The designs were used on a variety of tubes, buses and trolleybuses during this period and had to work well in daylight and artificial light.

 
RM moquette

In the 1950s, industrial designer Douglas Scott was commissioned to design the Routemaster.

The new double decker bus became a design classic as well as a symbol of London. Scott devised the colour scheme for the interior of the Routemaster carefully; the maroon, yellow and green of the interior mirrored in the moquette design.

This moquette was introduced in 1961.

 
Straub moquette

The next development in moquette design began in 1964 and was born out of the work of Professor Misha Black. Black worked as a design consultant on the construction of the Victoria line, coordinating every aspect of its design.

Professional designers Marianne Straub, Jacqueline Groag and the Orbit Design Group were commissioned to design a new moquette to highlight the newness of the line.

However, due to the limited time scale these designs were never used and a design already developed for the A stock was used instead.

This blue and green moquette was widely used across rail and road vehicles, including 1972 and 1973 tube stock and several London Transport buses.

 
Central Line Check moquette

During the 1990s Transport for London experimented with giving each line its own moquette to give each line its separate identity. This moquette was designed for the Central line and introduced on 1992-tube stock.

Moquette patterns were designed specifically for use on certain lines, incorporating the colour of the line as well as complementing the colours used throughout the carriage.

 
Barman moquette

Today, moquette patterns can be designed in house by Transport for London, or by an external design company.

Often there are many people involved in the development of a new moquette design or colourway. The colours and patterns have evolved over time, but the tradition of producing distinctive designs continues today.

This moquette, from 2010, is called 'Barman' or 'Landmark'and features four iconic London landmarks. Can you spot them all?

 

How it's made

Camira Fabrics make over 8 million metres of fabric a year for all kinds of spaces and places, from offices to schools, trains to buses, and shops to hospitals. Here, they show us how they manufacture moquette.


How much do you know about moquette?

Test your moquette memory with our quiz and see if you're a true moquette master!

 

moquette samplesMoquette collection

The London Transport Museum collection holds over 400 samples of moquette, and over 300 photographs from 1920 to the present day. 

Explore the collection


Listen

Hear stories behind the commissioning, design, manufacturing and use of moquette on London Transport network in our oral history collection.


Shop moquette products

Different patterns of moquette

Moquette by the metre

New! Available in 19 different patterns, you can now order moquette by the metre via our online shop. 

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Moquette socks in a box

 

District line sofa

 
 

Routemaster shoulder bag

Moquette socks

Show off your favourite print with a pair of socks! Choose from Barman, Elizabeth Line, S Stock, District line or Routemaster... or pick up a full set with our moquette socks in a box! Perfect for a special London gift.

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Moquette furniture and cushions

Our made to order moquette furniture pairs classic pieces of furniture made in the UK with iconic moquette patterns that have spanned the London transport network for decades.

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Gifts and accessories

There's more too! From bags to scarves, watches to books, shop our full range of moquette!

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Moquette collections care guidelines

Read about the care of moquette collections including instructions on labelling and rolled storage for moquette samples. The guidelines are aimed at collections staff and volunteers at museums or heritage institutions.

Download the guidelines


About the project

With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Celebrating Britain’s Transport Textile project at London Transport Museum has uncovered some of the fascinating stories behind the commissioning, design, manufacturing and use of moquette through the ages.

National Lottery Heritage Fund

The front of the Museum

Visiting

COVID-19 update

London Transport Museum is closed. But for as long as we can we’ll bring you inspiring content and keep our education work going. Thank you for sticking with us!

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Bundle of products inspired by sporting posters

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Fathers day gifting

From moquette socks to mugs and clothing inspired by Dad's favourite sports, we've got a great selection of Father's Day gifts at our shop! 

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3 posters with wartime transport workers

Collections

Object of the month

'Seeing it Through' was a series of posters commissioned in 1944 which commemorated the everyday acts of heroism by civilian workers during the Second World War.

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