Unexpected items left on Tubes and buses at TfL's lost property office

Lost and found on the Underground: From sex toys and breast implants to a judge’s wig, a prosthetic leg and human skulls – the unexpected items left on Tubes and buses which have found their way to TfL’s lost property office in the past 90 years 

From sex toys to breast implants and a judge’s wig to a prosthetic leg, Londoners leave all kinds of unusual items on the Underground, Overground and buses.

Other strange goods which have found their way to Transport for London (TfL)’s lost property office include urns with cremation ashes, a carpet and a lawnmower.

Further items to have been found include a wedding dress, a lawyer’s robes, a 14ft boat, a briefcase with £10,000, a park bench, a stuffed eagle and a kitchen sink.

Rolex watches worth more than £250,000 have also been left on public transport in the capital, as well as a drum kit, bottles of gin and cash totalling £15,000.

And last year 17 sex toys were found on buses, the Tube or the Overground – three on their own and 14 in bags with other items. Two were reclaimed by their owners.

The list of bizarre items comes as TfL’s lost property office celebrates its 90th anniversary this month and moves to a new location in West Ham, East London.

An attendant at Transport for London’s Lost Property Office at 200 Baker Street in 1983

An employee helps a woman to find her umbrella at the Lost Property Office in November 1933

Storage at TfL’s Lost Property Office in 2019, the year the office moved to South Kensington

The office was based at Baker Street station for most of its existence from 1933 until moving in 2019 to a temporary base at South Kensington.

What are the most unusual things left on trains and buses in London?

  • Sex toys
  • Breast implants
  • Judge’s wig
  • Prosthetic leg
  • Urns with cremation ashes
  • Carpet
  • Lawnmower
  • Wedding dress
  • Lawyer’s robes
  • 14ft boat
  • Briefcase with £10,000
  • Park bench
  • Stuffed eagle
  • Kitchen sink
  • Rolex watches worth more than £250,000
  • Drum kit
  • Cash totalling £15,000

TfL said the new site, located next to West Ham bus garage, has been designed to accommodate the growing scale of the office and help improve how quickly lost items can be processed and recorded.

It is also intended to provide easier parking for black taxi drivers who want to drop off any lost property.

The beginnings of the office can be traced back to the creation of London Transport in 1933, which brought together different modes of public transport, often run by private companies, into one organisation.

As part of this, a centralised lost property office was created on October 30, 1933 and based at 200 Baker Street, which reunited customers with belongings left across the network.

TfL said the office became the largest of its kind in Europe over the decades, recovering more than 200,000 lost items annually on the transport network.

Wallets and bags are now said to be among the most common products returned to customers, with TfL returning more than 4,400 wallets and 3,500 bags between 2020 and 2021.

Mobile phones are another popular lost item with more than 1,300 returned to customers during the last financial year. E-cigarettes and designer handbags are also often seen at the office.

TfL said that the family of a young girl recently contacted the office after she lost her teddy bear while travelling on the Jubilee line.

Staff managed to find a toy matching the photograph and description supplied by the girl, which was located at St John’s Wood.

 A 1936 poster entitled ‘Perhaps I’m not lost’ which gives details of the Lost Property Office

A 1951 poster from London Transport asking passengers: ‘Have you left anything behind?’

A poster from 1934 saying: ‘When you leave this carriage please don’t leave anything else’

TfL said: ‘The little girl was then reunited with her teddy, who told staff that she could sleep well at night now that her teddy bear was back with her.’

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Customers who lose something are encouraged to first enquire about it at the original location where the item was lost. 

If the item is still missing, customers then need to complete an enquiry form on the TfL website, with items held by the office for three months.

TfL said that attempts are made to reunite customers with their belongings by using information found inside the property, or by matching items to descriptions provided by customers.

Following a three-month duration, TfL said any unclaimed items will have personal data removed and securely destroyed, before being either donated to charity, recycled or auctioned.

People are charged an ‘admin fee’ on items recovered from the office.

Any revenue generated from unclaimed items is said to contribute towards the cost of running the office.

Diana Quaye, performance manager of TfL’s lost property office, said: ‘We are delighted to be commemorating the 90th anniversary of the famed Lost Property Office, which provides such an important service for customers who have misplaced their belongings while using London’s transport network.

‘The smile on customers’ faces when they are reunited with something they thought was gone forever will never get old, and I am constantly reminded of how honest Londoners are when they hand in items they find.

‘Following three years of reuniting customers with their items at our South Kensington office, we are pleased to have moved to a new home.

Items in the Lost Property Office are pictured in 2009 when it moved to South Kensington

The Lost Property Office celebrates its 90th birthday this month and is moving to West Ham

‘(It is) a building that can accommodate the complexities of operating the largest lost property office in Europe and thus ensure we can reunite owners with their lost belongings as quickly as possible.’

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Some 210,363 items were found in 2021/22, including 34,593 bags, 46,015 ‘books, documents and cards’ and 26,215 phones, reported the Evening Standard.

Lost items included 5,820 wallets, purses or cash, 1,693 rucksacks, 1,367 phones, 112 suitcases, 19 cameras, 18 books and nine shoes.

The majority of items– 128,707 – were found on buses, while 72,026 were located on the Underground and 1,096 in taxis.

Ms Quaye added: ‘As the capital recovers from the pandemic, we’ve seen a rise in customers using our network, meaning that we have also seen a return in the volume of lost property that comes to us.

‘So now, more than ever, it is paramount that we move to a facility that enables us to sort and return lost items to our customers in the best way possible.

‘Rather than give up hope and think your property is gone forever, I always advise people to report their lost items on our website because you never know, we just may have it.’

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