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Get 'transported' back to 1914

— May 2014

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'Goodbye Piccadilly' opens on 16 May

Goodbye Piccadilly – from Home Front to Western Front

New exhibition at London Transport Museum to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War

Opens Friday 16 May 2014

A major exhibition entitled ‘Goodbye Piccadilly – from Home Front to Western Front’ opens at London Transport Museum on 16 May 2014. It will reveal the untold story of London’s Home Front during the First World War; how drivers took their buses to the Front to support the war effort, how women advanced into the transport workforce for the first time and how Londoners came under deadly attack from the air as total war came to the Capital.

‘Goodbye Piccadilly’ will commemorate and explore the contribution of London’s motor buses and their drivers to the First World War and the upheaval for Londoners on what became for the first time the ‘Home Front’.

‘Goodbye Piccadilly’ will present London Transport Museum’s unique perspective on the First World War, exploring how the conflict accelerated social change, how it affected the lives of Londoners and the essential role undertaken by bus service staff and buses in the war effort, both at home and abroad. It will look at the impact of aerial bombardment on life at home, as well as sheltering on the Tube and rationing – both of which were introduced for the first time. A key theme of the exhibition will be to examine the lives of women who were employed on a large scale to do the jobs previously occupied by men, including working as bus conductors and mechanics on London buses and as porters and guards on the Underground.

The exhibition will bring together objects from several collections for the first time, at the heart of which will be ‘Ole’ Bill’, a 1911 B-type bus No. B43 on loan from the Imperial War Museum. It was one of over 1,000 B-type buses to be requisitioned by the War Department in 1914 for use on the Western Front. After the war it was refurbished as a permanent memorial to the role played by London buses in the First World War. Named after ‘Ole Bill’, Bruce Bairnsfather’s popular wartime cartoon character, it became a symbol of the military and civilian struggle endured by men and women of the London General Omnibus Company and it appeared regularly in the Armistice Day parades until the 1960s.

Other highlights include First World War recruitment posters, rarely seen propaganda posters specially designed to be displayed in army billets overseas as a reminder of home, and a 1914 female bus conductor’s uniform. Six animations by University of the Arts Central Saint Martins students plus new poetry from SLAMbassadors UK will offer new creative interpretations about the impact of the war. A highlight of the display is a newly acquired piece of ‘trench art’ – a decorated Daimler bus steering wheel from the war - which gives visitors the chance to reflect on what it might have felt like to be a bus driver on the Western Front.

Goodbye Piccadilly events include the following activities

Friday Late: Goodbye Piccadilly – 18.45, 16 May:Public evening launch of ‘Goodbye Piccadilly – from  Home Front to Western Front’ with a bar, music, talks and tours, make-and-take sessions and a quiz - 1914 style. Find out which scents the smart set favoured at our perfumery workshop, learn how London prepared for war with author Professor Jerry White (whose new book Zeppelin Nights – London in the First World War will be launched during the evening), and create your own fashionable feathered fascinator with Spitalfields favourite Lulu O’Neil of Slightly Scarlett. Part of Museums at Night.

Talk: The only road for an Englishman - First World War propaganda posters– 18.30, 2 September 2014: David Bownes, Assistant Director of Collections at the National Army Museum gives an insight into the uses of posters for propaganda during the First World War.

Symposium: 1914 – 1918, From Home Front to Western Front – 10.00, 15 November 2014:An opportunity to explore the themes of the exhibition in more depth. Includes entrance to the Museum and ‘Goodbye Piccadilly’ exhibition.

Talk: Women, Fashion and the First World War – 18.30, 18 November 2014:Fashion and design historian Emmanuelle Dirix discusses the impact of the impact of the First World War on women’s lives and fashion.

Tickets and opening times

'Goodbye Piccadilly – from Home Front to Western Front' and the supporting programme of events are part ofYear of the Bus and are supported by and organized in partnership with Exterion Media, Abellio, Arriva London, Clear Channel UK, Go-Ahead London, Metroline, RATP Dev UK Limited, Stagecoach, Wrightbus, Optare and telent Technology Services Ltd.  The exhibition runs from 16 May 2014 to 8 March 2015.

Adult tickets cost £15.00 (£11.50 concessions) which allows unlimited entry to the Museum for a whole year. Children and young people aged 17 and under go free. The Museum is open Saturday to Thursday 10.00 to 18.00 and Friday 11.00 to 18.00 (last admissions 17.15).

Event ticket prices and times vary and can be booked in advance at

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