London buses made a significant contribution during the First World War, acting as troop carriers and ambulances. To mark the centenary, the Museum restored this historic London B-type bus (B2737) to operational condition and converted it into a First World War Battle Bus. 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 are running an in-depth learning and engagement programme linked to the events of the First World War. Each year the programme is working with different groups of volunteers to investigate new perspectives related to the Battle Bus. We aim to bring to life the stories of those most affected by the war, and the role of transport within it.
Battle Bus project 2017
In 2017 the Battle Bus Project has been exploring how people on the Home Front were affected by the First World War.
London Transport Museum worked with a group of primary school Exhibition Volunteers to create content for two temporary touring exhibitions. The children were from schools in Camberwell and Tottenham. Both areas had links with the project because B-type buses from the local bus garages had been requisitioned for war service.
We also worked with a group of young Outreach Volunteers to develop and deliver an creative activity for audiences attending the exhibition launch events at London Transport Museum, and the two schools.
We worked with two Year 4 classes from Lancasterian Primary School in Tottenham from February to April 2017, and with two Year 6 classes from Lyndhurst Primary School in Camberwell from June to July 2017.
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.
A highlight of the project was a trip for both groups to the Museum’s Depot at Acton in west London. They saw the Battle Bus, engaged with historical characters to learn more about the war and took part in their first drawing workshop.
This project was led by Joyce Zale, 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.
The two exhibitions created by the students were launched at London Transport Museum, 15-17 September 2017. The exhibitions went on to be displayed at each school, introduced with a launch event that included the bespoke screen print activity and a visit from the Battle Bus. Both exhibitions will tour venues in the local areas from October to December 2017 to raise awareness of the students’ original work and the stories they tell about Battle Bus and the Home Front.