Battle Bus past years

battlebus 2016

Battle Bus 2016

During 2016 we focussed on Tottenham, in the north London Borough of Haringey. Tottenham garage was one of those that had their B-type buses requisitioned for war service. Working on the theme of ‘London’s Sacrifice’ we looked at the stories of young men who signed up to fight and the events of the Battle of the Somme.

Three teams of young volunteers co-curated an exhibition From Tottenham to the trenches. This exhibition marked the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. It is displayed at Bruce Castle Museum, Haringey from October 2016 to June 2017. The story of London buses is told alongside those of local people from Tottenham whose lives were affected by the First World War.

The young volunteers consisted of a research team, an exhibition team and an outreach team. They all had different roles to play in bringing the exhibition together.

Research volunteers

Ten young 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 their blog.

Exhibition volunteers

The research was passed on to eight Year 9 students at Northumberland Park Community School. During weekly sessions, they creatively explored the research. They looked at: why young men felt compelled to sign up to fight; the Battle of the Somme; and the role that London buses played on the Western Front. Working with a filmmaker and using shadow puppets, drama and photography the students produced images and a short film for the exhibition.

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.

Outreach volunteers

Over the summer of 2016, five young outreach volunteers worked alongside a spoken word artist. 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.

Battle Bus 2015

battlebus 2015

In 2015 our focus was the experiences of women. 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. The industry lost a significant proportion of its workforce, and women were soon called upon to fill the roles that men had left behind.  To keep the buses going, women took on both operational and maintenance roles. One of the roles women took on was the job of the conductor. They became ‘clippies’ or ‘conductorettes’ as they were sometimes called.

Exhibition volunteers

Working with over 40 female professionals employed in the transport sector, we explored the stories of the first ‘conductorettes’ in more detail. We looked at their experiences and how they contrasted with that of women working in the bus industry today. We considered how the role of women had changed over time. We also discussed whether women still faced the same prejudices as their counterparts 100 years ago.

The stories all contributed to a final exhibition A Driving Force: 100 years of women in transport. The exhibition included oral history interviews, artwork, a timeline of key milestones in the story of women in transport from 1915-2015, and a film. In the Summer and Autumn of 2015, the exhibition toured cultural and community venues throughout London, including Catford bus garage, London Transport Museum’s Depot at Acton Town, Westminster Music Library and Victoria Coach Station.

Sarah Liles, a bus driver, and Liza Maddocks, an Employee Relations Assistant, talk about their experience of working in the bus industry today

Outreach volunteers

In 2015 we worked with two groups of young people to create family engagement activities for two public events. The first was held at Firepower, 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, Hannah Steele, the groups researched information about the history of the bus and the role of women in transport during the First World War. 

From their research, they developed activities to engage with families. They also worked towards completing their bronze arts award qualification. A key legacy of their project is the children’s story book called Barney’s adventure [2.1 MB PDF]