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My favourite objects by Katherine Hughes

Katherine Hughes

As a curator, I worked on both the installation of the physical museum objects and the development of the Online Museum. A team of curators and mountmakers were responsible for installing the objects in the showcases. Objects were placed on specially made mounts, according to detailed designs. The Online Museum was an exciting project, creating a virtual replica of the physical museum. I worked on the content for the site. The museum contains many fascinating objects: here are just a few of them.



Katherine Hughes's favourite objects

Etching; Grand Panorama of London from The Thames, published by C Evans, 1849

Etching; Grand Panorama of London from The Thames, 1849

At 5.5 metres, this detailed etching is one of the longest artworks in the collection. It shows life unfurling along the Thames, reminding us of the river’s importance for transport and communication. I am drawn to it because it suggests what it was like to walk along the south bank in the mid19th century. The artwork was tricky to install, needing a whole team of curators and mountmakers.

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Businessmen at Loughborough Junction Station, near Brixton, 1890s

When I moved back to London, Loughborough Junction was my local station. It looks just the same today as it did in the photograph, however the city gents with their silk top hats and bowlers have gone. The photograph shows us the kind of people who used to live in the once smart villas on Coldharbour Lane. These have now been turned into flats.

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Show this object and other favourites from Oliver Green's favourites »


Poster; Fall of the Leaf, by Walter E Spradbery, 1933

Poster; Fall of the Leaf, by Walter E Spradbery, 1933

The trees’ rich colours stand out against the cool blue autumn sky, in this work by the famous poster artist, Walter Spradbery. I am reminded of blackberrying in Richmond Park as a child, coming home with juice-stained pockets. The poster shows autumn travellers the joys of the season, tempting them to visit woods and water to seek blackberries for themselves.

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Presentation ink stand from Aldersgate station, Metropolitan Railway, April 1897

Presentation ink stand from Aldersgate station (now Barbican), April 1897

The fatal bomb attack on a train in Aldersgate station in April 1897 is attributed to the Irish nationalists. This inkstand is made from a door on first class coach No.93, where the bomb was placed. Why would somebody make a souvenir of a bombed carriage? It ended up on the desk of a London Transport staff member who must have been aware of its complex history.

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Show this object and other favourites from Oliver Green's favourites »


Advertising strap hanger for Vaseline intensive care deodorant, 1998

Advertising strap hanger for Vaseline intensive care deodorant, 1998

This experimental advertising campaign was a way of producing a secondary revenue (non-ticket sales) for the Underground. However it is also a quirky take on tube behaviour and a humorous reminder to travellers to use deodorant, especially when holding onto strap hangers on the tube.

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Lathe operators at Acton Works

Lathe operators at Acton Works, 23 May 1942

The photograph contrasts the concentration of the lathe operators with the shower of molten metal in the background. During the Second World War, a wide range of opportunities opened up to British women. Replacing men who joined the Armed Forces, women showed themselves highly capable workers.

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B-type LGOC open top motor bus bonnet No B340, registration mark LA9928, 1911

B-type LGOC open top motor bus, registration mark LA9928, 1911

The B-type is the earliest mass-produced motor bus in the world. This particular bus was used during the First World War in home defence work. Many other B-types, however, were used to transport troops to the Western Front. It is hard to imagine what it was like to drive them under shell-fire. The open cabin gave no protection to the driver.

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Johnston type face printing block letters. P, I, C, and K

Johnston type face printing block letters. P, I, C, and K

Originally designed by Edward Johnston in 1916, the Underground used this sans-serif typeface all over the system. It is the forerunner of the New Johnston typeface used today by TfL. These printing block letters show the type face as a link between the ancient craft of lettering and modern electronic fonts such as Verdana. The letters spell out Pick, for Frank Pick, the pioneering manager of the Underground’s design.

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Gentleman's Evans bicycle, 1928

Gentleman's Evans bicycle, 1928

This bicycle was well used and well loved by its owner William Wagstaff. He owned the bike 76 years, riding it over 50,000 miles. It does not look like it has been ridden the equivalent of twice around the equator. This human story of a bicycle and its owner brings an everyday object to life. It also highlights current cultural attitudes to repairing vs. throwing away.

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Artwork; Pimlico, by Hans Unger, 1972

Artwork; Pimlico, by Hans Unger, 1972

Hans Unger created this artwork to be made into a London Transport poster, promoting the opening of Pimlico station. The artwork is in a painterly style, reflecting the proximity of the station to the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain). In the year of the roundel’s centenary, the artwork reminds us of the many ways it is used, while keeping the integrity of its design.

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