The North West Museum of Road Transport is housed in the old bus depot at St Helens, first built in 1881 for a horse tram company. The first horse tram service began on 5 November that year.
The St Helens & District Tramway Corporation ran steam trams from 1889; they were replaced by electric trams a decade later. The first ever motorbus appeared in St Helens in 1921; trolleybuses began running in 1927. A new garage, later converted into workshops, was added onto the original depot two years later. The depot fell into disuse when new large single decker buses were introduced in the early 1980s. The museum first opened in 1985; after closing because of structural problems, it re-opened in 2006.
The core of the collection is over 60 heritage buses from all over the North West: Merseyside, Chester, Darwin, Southport and Warrington. They include a trolleybus, open top buses, coaches, and vehicles built by Daimler, Leyland and Crossley; some are of national significance. Fire appliances and classic cars are also on display.
Storyboards explain the history of St Helens transport and tell the story of individual vehicles. Buses were the country’s workhorses, taking miners to the pit; wartime vehicles kept Britain moving during the blackout. Memorabilia including ticket machines and timetables give an insight into life on the buses.
The museum is staffed entirely by volunteers and welcomes new members. Check the website for special themed event days, usually the first Sunday each month, with free heritage bus rides.
Don’t miss: the Sydney bus converted to a mobile home with beds, washing machine and toilet.