TfL collaborates with Google to launch online transport collection

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TfL collaborates with Google Arts and Culture to launch online collection of historical and contemporary content about London’s transport past

Today (Monday 26 February), Transport for London (TfL) joins more than 200 UK cultural institutions who have collaborated with Google Arts & Culture to share their collection and stories online.

TfL’s collaboration with Google Arts and Culture, whose mission is to preserve the world’s art and culture and to make it accessible to anyone, anywhere for free, will result in the online availability of more than 2,000 documents and images from its Corporate Archive collections.

LT000030 012 00029 The Lock Nescalator Cartoon by Harry Beck Jan 1931
The collection, covering the first London Underground line opening in 1863 to the modern day, includes more than 400 maps that have been digitised by Google Arts & Culture. Many of these documents are available online for the first time, which TfL hopes will provide interest to Londoners, academics and casual historians of all ages.

Pulling from the Archives, Google Arts and Culture users around the world will be able to see a fascinating timeline of London’s transport throughout the centuries through 90+ digital stories. Maps prepared for the 1937 and 1953 coronations, cartoons by Harry Beck (designer of the Tube map), and extracts from oral histories with persons who sheltered in the Tube during WWII, are some of the things included in TfL’s Google Arts and Culture profile.

Themed sections will allow Google Arts & Culture users to not only examine the organisation’s long history but will also provide wider access to more recent milestones such as imagery and documentation of TfL’s involvement in the London 2012 Olympics, and Queen Elizabeth II opening the Elizabeth Line in 2023. Other sections include a crossword inspired by the 1932 TfL staff magazine, recipes, and vintage quizzes that users can undertake.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Edward Earl of Wessex, at unveiling of commemorative plaque

The collection has been sourced from TfL’s Corporate Archives, which are responsible for safeguarding the corporate memory of TfL and its predecessor companies. To provide a rounded view of the organisation for Google Arts & Culture users, the collection will be regularly updated to keep material relevant.

Says Tamara Thornhill, Corporate Archivist for Transport for London:

“The cultural influence of London’s transport system is tangible across London and around the world.

“We have worked on this online collection for more than three years, with the help of Google Arts & Culture’s digitisation team, and are thrilled to be able to utilise this platform to exhibit the range of the collections. This collaboration is a real step forward in preserving culture, making our collection more accessible, and helping to open never before seen content to a wider audience.”

Adds Amit Sood, Director and Founder of Google Arts & Culture:

“This new collaboration with the Transport for London Corporate Archives opens up a fascinating historical world and allows anyone to explore the evolution of London’s iconic transport system. The archive holds extraordinary stories – stories of engineering ingenuity, design innovation, and communities across decades – and we are thrilled to help share them with the world and preserve a vital piece of London’s cultural heritage for generations to come.”

To access TfL’s theme page on Google Arts and Culture please visit 

Chris Price
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