Linked by wheels and tracks!

Read about the history and collections of the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester. A blog post by Xinran Meng.

By Karen Shannon · May 30, 2023

Xinran Meng is a MA Cultural Practice student from the University of Manchester. Xinran Meng has been on placement with Manchester Histories. His placement has involved doing some historical research on the museums, and libraries that form the HiDDEN network to produce a series of blog posts to promote their work. His first post tells the story of the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester.


The Greater Manchester Transport Museum is located in Boyle Street, Cheetham Hill district of Manchester, England. It is a transport-themed museum. It displays various means of transportation from the 18th century to modern times, including a horse-drawn bus, trams and buses. The museum’s exhibits focus on the history of transport in the Manchester area.

Combination of Industry and Transport

Industry and transportation are inseparable, and transportation facilities are one of the important foundations for industrial development. Industrial production requires the transportation of raw materials, production equipment, and products, and transportation facilities can provide convenience and security.

At the same time, with the development of industry, transportation has also been promoted and improved. For example, the development of railways and automobiles has made large-scale industrial production and transportation of materials more efficient and faster (Vickerman, Ettema and Noland, 2021).

As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the industrial history of Northwest England is almost a rubbing of history. Greater Manchester has played a key role in many industrial developments, including the expansion and improvement of transport services.

From the first purpose-built canal in 1761, the first bus service in Britain in 1824, the world’s first public passenger railway in 1830, one of the first extensive tram networks in Britain, etc. And industrial traces can be seen in the Museum of Transport!

Real memories at your fingertips—Exhibits of the Transportation Museum

Transport for Greater Manchester designates essential buses to be added to the collection at the end of their service life. These include the first ‘Mancunian’, the first ‘National’ and the first ‘Standard’, with the aim of enabling future generations to truly experience the transport legacy of centuries ago; and encouraging support for public transport.

Exhibits: The museum has a wide range of exhibits that tell the story of Greater Manchester’s transport. Some highlights include:

Buses: The museum has a large collection of buses, ranging from early horse-drawn carriages to modern double-decker buses. You can explore the interior of many of these buses and learn about the different types of vehicles used to transport people around Manchester.

Tramcars: The museum also has several tramcars on display, including a partly restored 1906 open-top tramcar. You can learn about the history of Manchester trams and see how they have evolved over time.

Other means of transport: In addition to buses and trams, the museum also has a range of other means of transport on display, including one fire appliance and a brewery lorry.

Very special public history – Heritage bus rides

One of Greater Manchester Transport Museum’s unmistakable specials is the ‘Heritage bus rides’, which offer the opportunity to tour Manchester city and surrounding areas on a bus of historic value.

These historic buses include a variety of traditional buses that once operated in and around Manchester, including double-deckers, single-deckers and even open-top buses. The buses have been restored to their former glory, many dating back to the 1950s and 60s. During the journey on these buses, tourists can enjoy Manchester’s historical buildings, famous attractions and city scenery, and at the same time gain an in-depth understanding of Manchester’s industrial history and public transport culture.

During the slow travel, these buses brought people back decades ago, making people feel like they were among the ordinary people at that time, feeling the return and connection of history together.

The Greater Manchester Transport Museum is a very interesting museum that will excite you whether you are interested in transport or history.

Find out more about the museum here.