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Celebrating Britain’s Transport Textile

Learn about how we are preserving London's seating fabric for generations to come.
Learn about how we are preserving London's seating fabric for generations to come.

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Georgia Morley, a curator at London Transport Museum, talks about how she has spent the past year working on a project called Celebrating Britain’s Transport Textile. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this project explores the fascinating stories behind the design, manufacturing and use of moquette from 1910 to the present day.

“But firstly… what is moquette?

Famous for being seen on the seats of London Transport’s vehicles for over 100 years, moquette, which comes from the French word for carpet, is a tough woolen fabric that is used in upholstery on public transport all over the world.

Moquette is popular not only for its durability and affordability, but the patterns cleverly disguise signs of dirt, wear and tear!

The durable versatile fabric is produced using a weaving technique known as jacquard and is typically made of 85% wool and 15% nylon.

Over the course of the project, we uncovered the fascinating stories behind the commissioning, design, manufacture and use of moquette.  Filling in the gaps in our new collection by collecting new samples of moquette and conducting oral history interviews with key figures including the Product and Industrial Designer, Fernando Solis and the Product Design Manager, Paul Marchant at Transport for London.

We visited the main manufacturers of moquette, Camira fabrics, where we learnt about designing, dyeing, weaving and finishing moquette. We also visited the Bluebell Railway to learn about the traditional methods of reupholstering, as well as researching the collections at V&A, National Railway Museum, London Bus Museum, Central Saint Martins and many more!

Part of our moquette collection has now been re-displayed at our depot storage facility in Acton to increase awareness of the collection.

We are now working on making our research available to the public on our website to share what we have learnt and provide a legacy for the project. Additionally, we have had over 100 high res scans of moquette added to our new Collections Online website.”