Goodbye Piccadilly - the buses that went to war at London Transport Museum

By Richard Moss | 02 July 2014
The lives of Londoners and their buses during the First World War is explored at London Transport Museum

a photo of an old bus with pigeon loft on it upper deck with soldiers standing around
LGOC B-Type Bus converted into a pigeon loft (for carrier pigeons) during the First World War© LTM
An Edwardian double decker bus might not seem like the obvious way to go to battle, but during the First World War, the B-Type Bus - the world's first mass produced motor bus - was commandeered in large numbers and painted khaki to carry soldiers to the frontline.

Seeing active service on and behind the frontline the redoubtable B-type ‘Battle Buses’ became a familiar site in Belgium and France where they were also used as ambulances and even mobile pigeon lofts.

Now London Transport Museum, which has repainted its recently restored B-type Bus khaki for a commemorative trip to France later this summer, is commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the war with an exhibition looking at how the motor buses and their drivers contributed to the First World War.

As well as the story of the Battle Bus, the exhibition explores how Londoners came under deadly attack from the air as total war came to the Capital. As well as the impact of aerial bombardment on life at home, the First World War saw the start of people sheltering on the Tube during air raids and the advent of rationing.

The Museum offers a unique perspective on the First World War, and the exhibition explores how the conflict accelerated social change.

As thousands left for the front, women advanced into the transport workforce for the first time and were employed on a large scale to do the jobs previously occupied by men, including working as bus conductors, as mechanics on London buses and as porters and guards on the Underground.

Goodbye Piccadilly: From Home Front to Western Front is at London Transport Museum until March 8 2015. Free with general admission ticket.

Click below to launch a slideshow of images from the exhibition.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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