Exploring Greater Manchester’s transport history on a budget
My first visit to this museum was on the Palm Sunday of 1986 with my father. We decided – rather wrong-headedly – to walk to and from the museum. On alighting our 220 bus at Victoria Station, we made the mistake of walking up Rochdale Road. In spite of the longer route which entailed turning left onto Queens Road, I still managed to catch a glimpse of the Red Bank carriage sidings.
The museum had a great impression on me, not only due to my love of buses at the time, but also several years on. I came back with a North Western Road Car Company pin badge and we chose a shorter route for our 220 back home, via Cheetham Hill Road to Manchester Victoria station.
The above story wouldn’t have been seen on East of the M60 had it not been for that first visit. More to the point, our latest Go Cheapway entry is chosen to coincide with two things at this time of writing. One is Manchester’s History Festival which starts tomorrow. Another is the 40th anniversary of the formation of Greater Manchester Transport. This museum is also celebrating its 35th birthday this year.
The Greater Manchester Museum of Transport opened in March 1979 with the long term aim of documenting Greater Manchester’s transport heritage. Formed by the Greater Manchester Transport Society, it acquired premises in the former Royal Mail depot next to – and adjoining – GMT’s Queens Road depot. Prior to being the GMMoT and Royal Mail’s depot, it was one of Greater Manchester’s earliest tram garages.
Today, Transport for Greater Manchester own the building with volunteers from the Greater Manchester Transport Society running the museum. Exhibits include the last rear platform bus to ever enter service from new; a life-size mock-up of a T68 Metrolink tram; and smaller exhibits such as ticket machines, bus stop flags and model buses. By appointment only, you can visit the Museum Archives and pore over Greater Manchester Transport timetables, SELNEC posters or maps.
There is also a gift shop with a range of models, other souvenirs, DVDs and books. The café is well worth a visit for affordably priced traditional busman’s canteen style food.
The Greater Manchester Museum of Transport has a programme of special events from late March to early December. Ever popular is the Spring Transport Fair and the Christmas Cracker events, which include a number of stalls ranging from model shops’ stalls to preservation groups’ fundraising stalls. Expect to see a glut of model buses, transport books and autojumble on these days.
For each event, a shuttle bus ferries passengers to and from the Museum of Transport via Manchester Victoria railway station. Running every 20 minutes during museum opening hours, this free way of getting to the museum also offers you the chance of riding on one of their exhibits.
The centrepiece of the museum’s calendar is the Trans-Lancs Transport Show which takes place at Heaton Park on the first Sunday in September. The show has its roots in the Trans-Lancs Vehicle Rally along the route of the dearly departed 400 Trans-Lancs Express route. With the cost of fuel and maintenance taking its toll, the route was cut back before the rallying element ceased in 2011.
Useful Tips and Hints
If you’re taking a family out on public transport, you may recognise how expensive this can be. That is unless you’re knowledgeable about Day Saver tickets or happen to be the proud owner of a multi-operator season ticket. If you’re an adult with children under the age of 16, your accompanied child can visit the museum free of charge.
Should you wish to make a day of your visit, why not indulge in some retail therapy before or after visiting the museum? The Manchester Fort Retail Park is only five minutes walk away, and close to one of the nearest Manchester bound bus stops on Cheetham Hill Road. Further down, you could walk along Cheetham Hill Road and (any day but Saturday) visit the Manchester Jewish Museum.
Though the lure of KFC and Greggs on Manchester Fort may be too good to resist, the Museum of Transport canteen is a fantastic cheap and cheerful alternative. Try the Corned Beef Hash, which is always the best dish on the menu. But be quick as you seldom get a bowl of this delectable dish after 1230, especially on Special Event Days. Pies and sandwiches are also available with ham and cheese barms often featuring.
- Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays: 1000 – 1630;
- Daily throughout August: 1000 – 1630;
- Closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Also closed on the Wednesday between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
Please note that different charges may apply on Special Event Days.
- Adults (16+): £4.00;
- Children under 16, Over 60, Student and Unemployed Persons’ concessions: £2.00;
- Registered Disabled (on production of ENCTS pass or similar proof of disability): free;
- TfGM Wayfarer Ticket Holders: free;
- TfGM/Metrolink/Greater Manchester Bus Operator employees: free.
The Greater Manchester Museum of Transport is easy to get to from Manchester city centre. The 135 service from Manchester to Bury operates every seven minutes on weekdays and Saturdays, with a Sunday and Bank Holiday service every fifteen minutes or thereabouts. Other buses stopping near the museum include the 59 to Oldham and Shaw [Rushcroft] and the 88 White Moss Circular.
From Rochdale: any bus to Rochdale Interchange then 471 service to Rochdale Railway Station and train to Manchester Victoria. Then 59 or 135 to Cheetham.
From Saddleworth: 180 (Greenfield), 184 (Dobcross/Uppermill), 343 (Grotton/Lees) or 407 (Denshaw) to Oldham Mumps, then Metrolink tram to Victoria and 59 or 135 to Cheetham. Or, 350 service to Greenfield station, train to Manchester Victoria and 59 or 135 to Cheetham. Or, 180/184/343/407 buses to Oldham then 59 service to Cheetham.
From Oldham, Chadderton and Middleton: 59 bus to Cheetham.
From Ashton-under-Lyne, Audenshaw and Droylsden: any bus to Piccadilly Gardens or Shudehill Interchange then tram, or train or tram to Manchester Victoria. Change at Victoria for 59 or 135.
From Stalybridge and Mossley: train from Mossley or Stalybridge railway stations to Manchester Victoria station then 59 or 135 to Cheetham. Or 387/389 to Ashton-under-Lyne or Stalybridge railway stations from Ridge Hill Estate; 343/348 from Carrbrook, Millbrook and Copley for Stalybridge railway station.
From Dukinfield and Glossop: any bus to Ashton-under-Lyne (41/330/335/345/346 from Dukinfield; 236/237 from Glossop), then tram or train to Manchester Victoria and 59 or 135 to Cheetham. Or (from Glossop and Hadfield stations), train to Manchester Piccadilly, then tram or walk to Manchester Victoria for 59 or 135 buses.
From Hattersley, Hyde and Denton: 201 service to Piccadilly Gardens then tram or walk to Victoria for 59 or 135 buses to Cheetham. Or, train to Manchester Piccadilly (except Denton) on Hadfield or Rose Hill Marple lines, tram to Victoria then 59 or 135 buses. Or, from Denton, 317/347 to Ashton-under-Lyne, then train to Manchester Victoria and 59 or 135 buses.
From Stockport: any train or bus for Manchester (Piccadilly railway station or Piccadilly Gardens), then tram or walk to Victoria for 59 or 135 buses to Cheetham.
For further information on multi-operator/multi-modal day rovers and season tickets, visit the System One Travelcards website. If you wish to learn more about the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport, you can do no worse than visiting their website which offers a good preamble to your visit.
Other Tips or Comments
Feel free to comment or suggest any other tips for visiting the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport.
S.V., 20 March 2014.