Exploring Greater Manchester’s transport history on a budget

Leyland Olympian NJA 568W, Greater Manchester Transport, Museum of Transport, Cheetham
Not to be missed: The Greater Manchester Museum of Transport is worth visiting from time to time, not only for new additions to its collection. On special event days, local preservation groups such as the SELNEC Preservation Society and private owners display their vehicles.

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.

Special Events

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.

Opening Hours:

  • 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.

Getting There:

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.

15 thoughts on “Go Cheapway to… The Greater Manchester Museum of Transport

    1. Hi Michael,

      Your best bet would be telephoning the museum on 0161 205 2122. I would try to ring during the museum’s opening hours if you wish to avoid getting through to an answerphone.

      Bye for now,



  1. The Transport Museum has been a great resource to bus historians in our area since it opened in 1979. When I first went in 1984 the entrance was very different as you went through the shed door in the upper shed and the shop was a stall in front of the tea room.

    Over the years we must not forget that many rallies have taken place there not just the Annual Trans Lancs Rally at Heaton Park but others such as The Big Orange, Northern Counties, Lancashire United Centenary, Salford Centenary, Manchester Centenary, Bolton Centenary, Simply Red, Lancashire Municipals, North Western & Stockport, 40 years of Selnec to name just a few.

    The museum was the idea of Roger Bowker who was at the time the Manager of the Leigh Depot of Greater Manchester Transport before rising to MD at Eastbourne and eventually to MD of Stagecoach London over time. He as I understood it encouraged the PTE to save one bus from each founding fleet on withdrawal, for many years some of these where stored at the Frederick Road depot in Salford. Other additions came later, but also there where a few losses such as the Guy Wulfrunian that was formerly with Bury and was bought from Berresfords and was written off in an accident with a Training Bus while parked at the back of Hyde Road Depot or the Electric Seddon Pennine experimental that went off site for storage and was vandalised, or the Plaxton Highwayman/Derwent ex LUT Seddon Pennine that had been put a side that was vandalised again beyond repair while stored in the withdrawal yard at the back of Hindley Depot.

    I will also correct you on something in that the sheds where the buses are kept where not used for Trams, only the main shed that is now Queens Road depot was for trams the others where added later and where for buses with the top shed being built first and the linking shed in the middle following later.

    How long the Museum can remain at the Boyle street site is open to debate as the shed is owned by TfGM and in the past there has been ideas about using it for other purposes, one was to house Manchester Community Transport’s fleet of buses, another was to relocate to Heywood and another was to relocate a small number of Vehicles to the Museum of Science & Industry circa 12 was mentioned, and the rest be got rid of or stored elsewhere.

    Some vehicles of course over the years have been displayed at Bury Transport Museum as well.

    It should also be noted that Selnec Preservation Society has a significant collection of former PTE vehicles and also that several vehicles from the Wigan and Bolton fleets are stored and restored separately indeed until circa the late 1980’s Bolton had its own bus museum in the Smithills area, but the site was sold off for housing unfortunately, also Tameside has its own Transport Museum where other collections of vehicles of regional interest are stored, from various fleets around here. Several other vehicles of Manchester interest also are kept out of Greater Manchester at museums at Keighley and St Helens and also some privately owned vehicles are kept at a storage point in Kirby which has an annual rally and open day as well.

    Outside of Manchester the biggest delight must be the Bus Museum at Lathalmond in Fife which is on a former MOD base and has several sheds spread throughout it and a massive collection of vehicles.


    1. Hi Giles,

      Exceptional memory there on the entrance. Plus some useful information on how the museum began and its buildings.

      As for rallies, well, how can I forget the one’s I’ve done since 2000. I have visited the museum at least once a year since 2004 (which was The Big Orange event). There was also one in celebration of the 9 bus (today’s 409 service). Needless to say, I could have gone on all day about the rallies and the vehicles of the SELNEC Presentation Society and private owners (so I kept it as general as possible to try not to reach to the converted too much).

      Regarding the site, if I remember rightly, they looked at Weaste depot once (now apartments). That would have been a fantastic site not only for the trams but also if someone from MediaCityUK wanted to involve buses in any future TV or radio productions.

      The Tameside Transport Collection, if I remember rightly, is opened once monthly on Saturdays, and their present H.Q. is on Roaches Lock (1.5 buses per hour during the daytime). I remember when they used to occupy a unit in Mossley Road garage.

      I’ve yet to do the Lathalmond experience in Fife; definitely one for the list.

      Bye for now,



  2. I’d just like to give a shout out for this excellent museums reconstructed traffic offices which give a real flavour of bygone pre computerized times in a bus depot/station that was still extant when I was first working in the industry in the early 80s. Also the cafe/canteen has a great flavour of these sort of places as they
    were then. All largely gone now replaced by a microwave and a vending machine. Happy memories of bygone times.


    1. Hi Mark,

      Though I don’t remember the pre-vending machine and microwave era of bus catering, I do love the reenacted canteen and traffic office display in GMMoT. Always more civilised to have a proper meal, freshly cooked rather than half-heartedly heated in seconds.

      There could be a possible thread of EotM60 about bus canteens/crew relief facilities, possibly with some additional research. I remember Ashton bus station’s crew relief facilities looking out to Stand A (1985 – 1993). Plus Levenshulme’s. Even the little room in Hyde bus station (1961 – 2004).

      Bye for now,



  3. Couple of updates:
    Service 59 no longer passes the museum.
    The new Metrolink stop at Queens Rd is some 10 mins walk away.

    Full details of the Museum at http://www.GMTS.co.uk.
    Next event is the Spring Festival weekend 29/30 March 10am – 5pm.
    Free Heritage service from City ev20mins – see website for full details (changes due to road works around Victoria)

    Check out on Trip advisor for visitor feedback

    Archives available to personal visitors – email first: email@ gmts.co.uk


    1. Hi Paul,

      EEEEEK, thanks for the update on the 59 service! 🙂

      For anyone wishing to get the 59 service from Oldham for the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport, it is 10 – 15 minutes walk from the Cheetham Hill Road/Waterloo Road stop via Beckenham Street, Cheetham Hill Road, Smedley Lane, and the footpath leading to Boyle Street.

      Bye for now,


      P.S. Michael [first comment] may find the email address most useful.


  4. Huzzah! I can almost *smell* those fusty old bus seats (always HATED the funny furry seat covers when you dug your nails into them…but for some reason I liked the smell.) Sorry to sound like a very odd person indeed but….I love your posts Stuart! Now get thee over here to Bradford Industrial Musesum and write one up for us tykes next, please xxx


    1. Hi Tina,

      Loved the seat moquettes, ooh the orange and yellow Rupert The Bear style check on the Leyland Atlanteans. Or the salt and pepper scheme on the Leyland Olympians. And yes, the moquette did have a smell of its own.

      If you were wearing shorts, better on bare legs than on vinyl or leather. Till – I would say the late 1980s at least – one of the great joys of sitting upstairs was vinyl or leather seating. This because the top deck was often the preserve of workers with dirty overalls (seats easier to clean) and smokers (or smokers with dirty overalls).

      In the summer months, the vinyl seat covers would stick to your legs (back to the joys of sitting upstairs in the front seat on a Park Royal bodied Leyland Atlantean on the 343!!!).

      I would consider Yorkshire attractions for future posts, though they do fall outside the editorial remit of East of the M60’s ‘Go Cheapway…’. Perhaps if I had references to Saver Strips rather than a SELNEC off-peak fares scheme, maybe so…

      Bye for now,



  5. Better still if you want to visit the Museum on a regular basis why not join up as it does have its advantages such as unlimited free entry from March-March each year and there’s the chance of helping out at various events if you so wish (every little helps). Also members get a quarterly newsletter The Journal which is always worth a read.

    And if its open on non-event days members also get access to the Archives which is well worth a visit especially if your into Bus Timetables as if a bus service has operated in Manchester the archives will have a copy of that timetable and various updates to the timetables as well


  6. Does anybody have information regarding which Bus services are going to be confined to this museum given the current state of affairs with TfGM’s budget? Apparently they need to cut GBP 7.5 million which they said they will have to recoup by not subsidising some routes. They are scrapping the Wigan Night Services from 1st July 2014.

    Perhaps this would be a good article for this blog. I know you are good at giving information about local issues such as this.



    1. Hi Andy,

      Good question regarding the museum buses. I should imagine that the 135 service would continue to be commercially operated for the foreseeable future. However, the 88/89 [White Moss Circular], is supported by TfGM on Sundays, evenings and Bank Holidays. All Monday to Saturday journeys of the 151 are supported by TfGM.

      Regarding the shuttle buses, I would say they are outside TfGM’s bus budget anyway and not seen as a regular scheduled service in the eyes of VOSA. There is a loophole somewhere which permits occasional buses for events such as concerts; a similar one which also benefits rail franchisees who require rail replacement buses at short notice.

      More than anything, they are a goodwill gesture to entice people to the GMMoT, as well as keeping them maintained. They also wow anyone waiting for a staid bendibus, who wish their carriage was a Leyland Atlantean or a Daimler Fleetline. Plus they are also an effective free advertisement for the museum as well as a showcase for its collection.

      Bye for now,



  7. lookin to buy a dinky model ]. dinky toys vega major ptt swissposal bus , no 961 . . colour yellow an white . if you have . please let me no . an how much . post , ecl.
    ken in luton .


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