March 1938: London's Lost Property
  'Lost birds which come into the lost property office in large numbers around Christmas time and baskets of provisions.'    ( c)  Topfoto

'Lost birds which come into the lost property office in large numbers around Christmas time and baskets of provisions.'

(c) Topfoto


Until the middle of the nineteenth century, property lost on London's transportation was not taken to a centralised location. Owners in search of a lost time/item were reliant on placing advertisements in newspapers.  

However, in 1869 the Metropolitan railway established the “Central Repository for Lost Things”. The Central Repository eventually relocated to a purpose built site in Baker Street station, in 1934, and was renamed the London Transport Lost Property Office.  Umbrellas required their own room.

Today the Lost Property office is run by Transport for London and now includes items left on London buses, in Victoria coach station, on black cabs and the Underground. In 2016, almost 140,000 items were picked up on the Tube alone.  Items are kept for three months and if unclaimed, donated to charity of sold at auction to contribute to running costs.

Unlike 1938, the Office no longer stores edible objects.


  'Umbrellas stacked up in the Lost Property office.'   (c)  Topfoto

'Umbrellas stacked up in the Lost Property office.'

(c) Topfoto


'Forgetfulness by tons and thousands: how London, the absent minded, keeps lost property offices busy'

- Original caption, March 1938


Loading lost suitcases.

(c) Topfoto


 Hats  (c)  Topfoto

Hats

(c) Topfoto


'Personal garments'

(c) Topfoto


'A tasteful group of vegetables, marrows, antlers and motorcycles and a barometer.'

(c) Topfoto


'The bewildering complexity of forgetfulness, an array in the oddments department which suggests losers of all ages classes and walks of life'

- Original caption

 (c)  Topfoto

 Text and curation: Amanda Uren