#AskACurator - our favourite objects!

By London Transport Museum

For #AskACurator day - 18 September - we asked our curators (and some of our keen staff too!) what their favourite items from our collection are. We've got items including trains, moquette, signs and great selection of items which will be on display at Hidden London: the Exhibition! Check out our favourites...

Pillar drill operator Isobel Ansted at Plessey factory (1942) by Plessey PhotographicLondon Transport Museum

This photograph of Isobel Anstead at Plessey’s secret Underground factory is one of curator Georgia's favourite objects in the collection as it represents the contribution of women to the war effort back home.

The wartime factory had 2,000 staff, mostly women, working in shifts 24 hours a day in the newly constructed tunnels which were later to become the Central Line extension.

This photo - and more about the story of Plessey, will be on display at Hidden London: the Exhibition from 11 October.

Fluffer's brush used for cleaning work on the underground (1933 - 1947) by London Passenger Transport BoardLondon Transport Museum

This humble brush is our Head Curator Matt's favourite object on display in Hidden London: the Exhibition. It was used in the 1930s and 40s by ‘fluffers’, Underground staff who cleared the fluff and dirt from tunnels and tracks.

Night maintenance: a team of fluffers at work in a tunnel (December 1955) by Dr Heinz ZinramLondon Transport Museum

Many of these workers were women, who worked at night when the power for the rails was switched off. Here you can see some of these brushes in action.

Underground destination plate for Elstree and Special (circa 1938)London Transport Museum

This Underground train destination plate for Elstree station is from about 1938 - and is curator Simon's favourite object from Hidden London: the Exhibition

Elstree was the end of a new extension to the Northern line expected to open in 1940. The outbreak of the Second World War interrupted plans, and it was never built. The extension was included on maps until 1949.

Power - the nerve centre of London's Underground (1931) by Edward McKnight KaufferLondon Transport Museum

Our Director, Sam, says: The remarkable poster collection at LTM was a great attraction when I applied for the job, art and design to civilise the busy city.

My favourite artist has always been Edward McKnight Kauffer, the ‘poster king’ of the 1920s and 30s.

‘Ted’ Kauffer moved easily between styles but his strongest of over one hundred designs for Frank Pick’s Underground were adventurous and avant garde, influenced by Vorticism and Cubism.

Of these, ‘Power: The Nerve Centre of London’s Underground’ of 1931 is my personal favourite.

Power (1930) by Edward McKnight KaufferLondon Transport Museum

The electric train has transformed and shaped London; the poster depicts the largest power station in the world at Lots Road and the arm throwing the switch to energise the Tube.

I love the muscularity of the image, it’s an incredibly powerful design, man and machine combining to move the city.

LER Q23-stock driving motor car No. 4248 (1923) by Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Co.London Transport Museum

Vehicle and Engineering Curator Katariina's favourite object is the Q23-stock driving motor car. Q23-stock was the name given to modernised ex-G-stock cars.

Three-quarter side view of a four car Q23-stock train (1965-12-06) by Colin TaitLondon Transport Museum

The G-stock was introduced to the District line in 1923. These cars were fitted with hand-operated doors, and were nicknamed 'horse boxes' because of their narrow cabs. In 1938 this stock was modernised so that it could run with the new Q38 stock.

Prototype women's orange high visibility trousers, as issued to Melanie Ogden for women's PPE trial (2015) by Transport for LondonLondon Transport Museum

In 2015 TfL introduced women's Personal Protective Equipment, designed to fit women's proportions better. It was an improvement on the Unisex PPE that had been available before. Documentary curator Ellie picked this uniform, issued to Melanie Ogden, as her favourite item.

A 1931 Standard stock tube train (circa 1935) by UnknownLondon Transport Museum

The Standard stock design was introduced in 1923, when many new trains were built to accommodate growing passenger demand. A key feature was the replacement of manually operated doors with automatic air-powered ones. This rare colour photo from 1935 shows one of the Standard stock trains at Hammersmith station - and is Team Leader Michael's favourite item.

Drawing showing the standard layout of the 'Registered Design' version of the Johnston Underground bullseye (roundel) (1925) by Edward JohnstonLondon Transport Museum

This is the earliest known drawing of the Underground’s standard bullseye design, as re-designed by Edward Johnston in 1925. It has his exact guidelines for proportions, measurements and colours.

Vision of a roundel (2008) by Lothar GötzLondon Transport Museum

Digital Marketing Manager Laura picked this as her favourite item from the collection as it represents the beginning of one of the world's most recognised logos - which has been interpreted many different ways over the years!

Interior view of a D78 District Line carriage (circa 1980) by UnknownLondon Transport Museum

Moquette is the durable upholstery fabric used on public transport across the world. This brightly coloured design from the late 1970s has a geometric pattern of repeating rows of orange, yellow, brown and black rectangles.

Moquette sample as used on Metrobus, Titan type buses, D78-stock and 1983-tube stock (circa 1975) by Design Research Unit (DRU)London Transport Museum

The bold design brings back a 70s feel for Retail Marketing Manager David, who loves our moquette socks inspired by this pattern!

Diorama depicting the construction of the Metropolitan Railway (1993) by Valhalla ModelsLondon Transport Museum

In the Museum, we have a model showing a construction site of a Metropolitan Railway tunnel in circa 1860. It really conveys the madness of this completely new kind of construction at the time – digging up streets to put trains underground.

Miranda from Public Programmes says this is her favourite object because of the fun little details: A sign saying no entry to pub where the construction site opens into the pub cellar, some impressive machinery, ladies and gentlemen looking rather inconvenienced and lots of busy workers!

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