Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester

Bit of a non-cycling post this one, though still Greater Manchester transport related. The Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester is a bit of a hidden gem. Being out at the Queens Road bus depot in Cheetham Hill, it’s a bit off the typical tourist map, though you do see the odd tourist who makes the trip out of the city centre.

The museum aims to tell the story of public road transport in Greater Manchester from the beginnings in 1824 to now. It has been open since 1979, though I must say, I only discovered it year or two ago. Being public road transport, much of the focus is on buses. There’s a little bit about trams, but nowhere near as much.

The museum mainly tells the story of the various bus companies that used to exist, prior to the formation of the Passenger Transport Executive. Each with their own distinct colour scheme. It then goes on to the changes that came about when the PTE became Greater Manchester Transport, and the big shake-up that came with deregulation in 1986.

Pre-PTE buses in their original colours

As a child of the 70s, I have many memories of the orange and white SELNEC buses that went on to become GM Buses in the 80s following deregulation. In my youth, I remember the short-lived Bee Line buses that took to the back streets of Manchester for a little while, then disappeared.

I also remember the conversion of the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway into the first Metrolink line and being disappointed I could no longer stow my bike away in the guard’s van for trips out of Manchester.

One of the short-lived Bee Line buses

Some of the non-bus related parts include the development of the Metrolink and details of the Picc-Vic line that never was. On the latter, there’s a map of what the route would have been and the stations that never were. Those that are interested might want to read more about the void under the Arndale that would have been Market Street station.

Display showing the stations planned on the Picc-Vic line

Another point of interest is the section about the Centreline service introduced in 1974, and the battery powered electric buses that originally ran. It just shows with this, and with privatisation, how quite often with public transport, we’ve gone backwards rather than forwards.

One of the original battery powered electric Centerline buses from 1974

Having two young boys who are interested in all things transport related (three including me), this museum and the Bury Transport Museum are great options for a wet weekend day out. It’s not got half as much as London Transport Museum or National Railway Museum in York, but given how local it is, it’s a great way to spend a few hours.

The museum opens regularly (though not daily) and is quite cheap to get in. More information about the museum, opening times and directions can be found on the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester website.

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