Marvellous 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. Read more about the history of moquette and discover some of our favourite patterns in this story.

By London Transport Museum

Lozenge' pattern moquette sample, Unknown, circa 1923, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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  Moquette was first applied to public transport seating in London in the 1920s. This sample shows the first moquette pattern - called Lozenge, this design was made in 1923 by Firth Furnishings Ltd and used on trains during the 1920s, and on bus, tram and trolleybus upholstery in the 1930s. It followed the fashions in home furnishings and art deco styles of the day. 

Colindale' ('Leaf') design, design number 12703, Marion Dorn, circa 1937, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Moquette sample as used on Hammersmith & City line O-stock cars, Unknown, circa 1935, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Colindale' or 'Leaf' design, design number 7533 NX, Marion Dorn, 1937, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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After London Transport was created 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. The patterns above were some of the designs created in this era, transforming the practical seating fabric to a design icon.

Moquette sample as used on Metrobus, Titan type buses, D78-stock and 1983-tube stock, Design Research Unit (DRU), circa 1975, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Interior view of a D78 District Line carriage, Unknown, circa 1980, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Moquette can be found in a variety of colours and patterns. When the surface stock cars on the District line were renewed, the mainly grey finishes of the old interiors were replaced by brighter designs. The new interiors were designed by Misha Black's Design Research Unit. The internal doors were painted orange and the moquette matched the colour scheme. This pattern was also used on the Metro and Titan buses, which were introduced about the same time as D78 stock.

Design for the S stock, Unknown, circa 2011, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Overground standard design number 30563, Wallace Sewell, 2008, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Victoria line moquette design sample, design number 30667, Bombardier, circa 2009, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Central line check' design, as used on Central line 1992-tube stock, Jonathan Sothcott, circa 1990, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Moquette sample - featuring same design used in the refurbishment of the Metropolitan A60/A62-stock, Unknown, circa 1995, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Moquette sample as used on the RM- type bus, Douglas Scott, circa 1961, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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During the 1990s, moquette was used to give each line its own identity. Can you recognise what lines or modes of transport you may have spotted some of the moquettes above?

How it's made: Producing a London transport moquette, London Transport Museum, Camira Fabrics, 2016, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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How is moquette made? Camira Fabrics take us on a tour of how they make moquette.

Refurbished C Stock (Yellow Pages moquette), Ian Bell, 1998, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Yellow Pages moquette used on a refurbished C-stock train, Rufus Leonard, 1998, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Moquette sample used to promote the 2012 London Olympic games bid, Unknown, 2004, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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More recently, moquette has been used for advertising. The two photos on the left show a Yellow Pages moquette, which was used on a C-stock train in 1998-1999. The final moquette shows a sample of the 'Back the Bid' moquette from around 2004, advertising London's candidacy to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

Moquette sample; 'Barman' or 'Landmark', Wallace Sewell, Transport for London, 2010, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Barman' moquette by Wallace Sewell showing the priority seat on the Waterloo and City Line, Wallace Sewell, Transport for London, 2017, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Priority seating on a Juiblee line train, Wallace Sewell, Transport for London, 2019, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Moquette has also been used to help make the Underground more accessible. This blue moquette, called 'Barman' or 'Landmark' was introduced in 2010. It was modified to highlight priority seating with a graphic - as shown in the photo from 2017 - and in early 2019, Transport for London introduced more striking priority moquette on the Jubilee line as part of Priority Seating Week.

Pair of trainers featuring a moquette pattern, Nike, Transport for London, 2013, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Pair of socks featuring the Routemaster moquette pattern, London Transport Museum, 2019, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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Lambswool scarf with the Elizabeth line pattern, London Transport Museum, Bronte, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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A sofa upholstered in District line moquette, London Transport Museum, Pavilion Rattan MTO, From the collection of: London Transport Museum
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The bold patterns of London's seating has inspired many products - from trainers and socks to bags, scarves and even furniture!

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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