The Museum tells the story of public road transport in Greater Manchester from its very beginnings in 1824 to the present day. The collection spans over 100 years, from an 1890s horse bus to a full size prototype Metrolink tram.
Opened in 1979, the Museum is a partnership between Transport for Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester Transport Society and is an early example of successful partnership working between a local authority and a voluntary body.
Motor bus services in Greater Manchester were originally operated by local authorities, with additional services provided by private companies. In 1968 the Government reorganised bus services in the metropolitan counties such as Greater Manchester and Passenger Transport Executives were created to provide local bus services instead. Known as SELNEC (South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire), the PTE was renamed Greater Manchester Transport in 1974 when Wigan was included.
Fourteen former bus operators were merged into Greater Manchester Transport and all are represented in the Museum: the transport departments of the corporations of Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton, Bury, Leigh, Manchester, Oldham, Ramsbottom, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport and Wigan, as well as Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Transport Board, the once independent Lancashire United Transport and most of the former National Bus Company subsidiary North Western Road Car Company.
Greater Manchester Transport designated important buses to join the collection once their service lives were over. These included the first ‘Mancunian’, the first ‘National’ and the first ‘standard’, with the aim that future generations would be able to enjoy the county’s transport heritage; and would be encouraged to support public transport.
Greater Manchester Transport is now Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) after its bus operations were transferred to GM Buses when local bus services were deregulated in 1986. TfGM is now responsible for local transport policy, bus stations and stops, subsidy for certain bus services, passenger information, concessionary fares and the development of Metrolink. GM Buses was split and privatised in 1993 and eventually became First Manchester and Stagecoach Manchester.
The Museum is based in one of Greater Manchester’s earliest bus garages, adjoining Manchester’s first electric tram depot: Queens Road (opened in 1901). The entire building is Grade II listed and the Museum frontage is on Boyle Street, named after Councillor Daniel Boyle, the Chairman of the Manchester Corporation Tramways Committee which was responsible for electrifying the newly acquired tramway system, which had previously been run by private companies.
The Museum premises are divided into two main buildings. The Upper Hall is the original Queens Road motorbus garage, added to the main tram depot in 1928. The Lower Hall is a fill-in building, constructed on the tram depot’s rear yard and used as the washing shed for the motorbus fleet in the 1930s and 1940s. The building continued to be used by Manchester Corporation Transport as a workshop and bus washing area until 1 May 1955 when buses were fully accommodated next door in Queens Road Garage. It was taken over some time later by the General Post Office (GPO) for use as a vehicle maintenance facility.
Greater Manchester Transport Society moved into the building in 1977 after it had been vacated by the GPO and the Museum of Transport first opened to the public in 1979.
Many of our restored buses are maintained in roadworthy condition by our volunteers and can be driven on public roads. Throughout the year we hold a number of events which often give people of all ages an opportunity to travel on some of our historic vehicles.
As museum pieces, Museum vehicles are not licensed to carry passengers for hire and reward. Sorry!
However we can help for appearance work, especially in film, TV and exhibitions. We have vehicles that are historically accurate from 1890 to 2000 - so if your street scene requires a bus, and it simply must be right, then the Museum can help. Over 60 of the Museum’s collection can be available with sufficient notice - please contact us to discuss your requirements. View full details of our vehicle collection...
Even many of the Museum’s objects can be hired as props - maybe you need to place that street conversation at a 1950s Salford bus stop, or your bus conductor needs a ticket machine? View details of our objects...
For all your requirements, please contact us using the details below.