The B-type bus, developed by London General Omnibus Company (LGOC), was the first successful mass-production motor bus, introduced in 1910. These London buses made a significant contribution during the First World War, acting as troop carriers and ambulances on the front line. To mark the centenary of the First World War, the Museum restored a historic London B-type bus (B2737) to operational condition and converted it into a First World War military troop carrier. The project was achieved with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and London Transport Museum Friends.
Alongside the restoration and conservation of B2737 we ran an in-depth learning and engagement programme linked to the events of the First World War and the roles of transport workers.
Each year we recruited an apprentice who worked with different groups of volunteers to investigate new perspectives related to the Battle Bus. We aimed to bring to life the stories of those most affected by the war, and the role of transport within it. Browse by each year below to find out more about our activities, exhibitions and research.
The Battle Bus project received commendation from the Museum and Heritage Awards in 2019, and was awarded Highly Commended in the category of Education Initiative of Year.
We worked with three teams of volunteers; a research team, an exhibition team and an outreach team. The participants produced a Battle Bus exhibition, hanging installation and a short film to engage audiences and to mark the centenary of the First World War.
The focus was the Battle Bus story, remembrance and transport workers who served during the First World War.
12 research volunteers worked together to research, write and co-design a pop-up exhibition based on the theme of London’s Memory. Over eight sessions, the research volunteers received training from museum staff and a historian on researching individuals from war records.
Using London Transport Museum’s archive of TOT staff magazines, the volunteers were able to explore the stories of transport workers and find out more about their experiences of B-type buses during the First World War.
The research volunteers' exhibition was displayed at the London Transport Museum during the October 2018 half term.
Bus drivers and past participants of the project explored photos from TOT staff magazine from the museum’s archive. They looked at photos of what life was like during the war era.
With assistance from the project artist, they created drawings for the hanging installation which was inspired by postcards and embroider flowers. This installation is called Forget Me Not and is on display at the Museum above Battle Bus in the main gallery.
This project was led by the Battle Bus Apprentice (2018-2019). Nine young volunteers worked alongside a filmmaker and museum staff to produce an original film concepts which created two short films about the story of Battle Bus and remembering transport workers who joined the War effort.
The volunteers met once a week for three months to research, create and develop their skills in storyboarding, editing, Battle Bus and remembrance. The volunteers visited museums to learn about the First World War and the different ways to remember.
Both short films were premiered at the Battle Bus Thank You event, December 2018.
In 2017, we explored how people on the Home Front were affected by the First World War. Working with a group of primary school students, we created two temporary touring exhibitions. We worked with these primary schools as they both had links to B-type buses as the local garages were used for the War effort.
We also worked with a group of young Outreach Volunteers to develop and deliver a creative activity for the exhibition launch events.
We worked with two Year 4 classes from Lancasterian Primary School in Tottenham, and with two Year 6 classes from Lyndhurst Primary School in Camberwell.
The students explored the Home Front and the themes of the Battle Bus, women working, children’s roles and air raids. Using comic books as their inspiration and working with a freelance illustrator, they created original stories and artworks which were used to form an exhibition for each school, called Home Front Heroes. The exhibitions were displayed at the schools and toured venues in the local areas from October to December 2017.
This project was led by the Battle Bus Apprentice (2017 – 2018). During a week-long project at the end of August we worked alongside two young volunteers and a screen print artist to explore the story of the Battle Bus and the Home Front.
Responding to a different theme each day the volunteers designed and produced their own screen prints and developed original designs for a screen print activity. The outreach volunteers successfully delivered their activity at exhibition launch events at London Transport Museum, Lancasterian Primary School and Lyndhurst Primary School.
In 2016, we focused on the area of Tottenham, looking at the stories of local young men who signed up to fight and the events of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Three teams of young volunteers co-curated an exhibition From Tottenham to the trenches. It was displayed at Bruce Castle Museum, Tottenham from October 2016.
Ten research volunteers were tasked with uncovering First World War stories linked to the events of 1916, the B-type bus, and Tottenham. They worked alongside museum professionals and First World War experts, delved into archives and participated in field trips to gather information for the exhibition. You can read more about what they discovered on our blog.
The research was passed on to eight Year 9 students at Northumberland Park Community School. Working with a filmmaker and using shadow puppets, drama and photography the students produced images and a short film for the exhibition (video on the left below).
The students were also taken on a bespoke three-day tour of battlefields in Belgium and France. They visited sites that had links to Tottenham and the buses, and they learnt more about the Battle of the Somme and the Western Front. A film made for the exhibition documented their experience (on the right below).
Five young volunteers worked alongside a spoken word artist and the Battle Bus apprentice (2016 – 2017). They created original poems, responding to stories in the exhibition they felt emotionally or personally attached to. Their work covered themes of home, memory, courage and conflict. The poems featured in the exhibition and were performed by the volunteers at exhibition launch events at London Transport Museum and Bruce Castle Museum. Below, you can watch a short film of the poems they created:
At the start of the First World War in 1914, thousands of men who worked on London’s public transport volunteered to take on military roles. Women were soon called upon to fill their jobs to keep London moving. Women took on both operational and maintenance roles. One of these roles was the job of the bus conductor. They became known as ‘clippies’ or ‘conductorettes’.
We worked with over 40 female professionals employed in the transport sector, to explore the stories of the first ‘clippies. We looked at the experience of the clippies parallel to female transport workers today and discussed how the role of women have changed over time. We also discussed whether women still faced the same prejudices as their counterparts 100 years ago.
The stories contributed to a final exhibition A Driving Force: 100 years of women in transport. In the Summer and Autumn of 2015, the exhibition toured cultural and community venues throughout London.
We worked with two groups of young people (18-25) to create family activities for two public events. The first was held at The Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich Arsenal, in May. The second, was at Westbourne Park bus garage Open Day in October. Led by the Battle Bus apprentice (2015-2016), the groups researched information about the history of the bus and the role of women in transport during the First World War to create their family activity.
From their research, they developed storytelling activities to engage with families. The legacy of their project is the children’s story book called Barney’s adventure [2.1 MB PDF].