PREVIEW: Night Shift – London After Dark Exhibition @London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum will be taking a look at London after the sun goes down in a brand new exhibition arriving at the museum from the 11th September to the 10th April 2016.

This latest exhibition will focus on the nocturnal lives that Londoners lead and the transport that has been helping them get home from 1913. The curators delve deep into London’s history that is filled with rat catchers, hedonists,  jazz-lovers and hacks helping the city to come to life at night.

It is an exhibition that looks at the topic in two very different ways. On the one hand the exhibition will fascinate those who are pleasure-seekers, with posters from the museum’s archive highlighting the rise of the West End. But on the other photographs and film capture the transport needs of the night workers at Fleet Street and the lives of the rat catchers.

There and Back, Harold Sandys Williamson, 1928
There and Back, Harold Sandys Williamson, 1928

From using the tube as shelter in the Second World War to the 1980’s clubbing scene, this exhibition explores London’s transport at night time, offering insight into the history of London that many don’t know existed.

It will be split into six sections, moving through time and beginning with the the change that the power of electricity brought to London and its transport system:

The Pleasure Seekers and Shift Workers: this section shows how electricity changed the way in which Londoners used their city for work and leisure – from theatre land through to the first night shift workers.

Brighter London: when the First World War ended, London was flooded by light again and people were encouraged to claim back the city. Jazz shows were popular and flood lights became a form of entertainment. It also features the most experimental after dark tube station, Sudbury Town which had a neon sign above it until 1958.

Blackout: with the outbreak of World War Two, travelling in London meant strict curfews and help was available for Londoners to travel in the dark safely.

Never Had it So Good: London saw an increase of prosperity after the Second World War, with the number of cars appearing on the roads in the city increasing which meant the number of people using public transport decreased.

Nightclubbing: as time went on, London Transport discovered a new generation of public transport users – the ‘disco-goers’. A campaign was launched to target Londoner’s night clubbers. This section also looks at how the night bus routes began to develop into the ones that we know today.

24 Hour City: this last section shows contemporary interpretations of the city after dark. It will include a piece that has been produced in conjunction with the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

For more information about the exhibition then visit:

London After Dark, Fred Millett, 1968
London After Dark, Fred Millett, 1968

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