Last week Alison and I set off in the sunshine to host our latest member event – a trip to the East Anglia Transport Museum in Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft. The museum first opened in 1965 and has been growing steadily ever since – their collection now includes a tramway, a trolleybus route and a number of exhibition halls. The museum is also home to the East Suffolk Light Railway, which opened in 1973 and runs along the northern perimeter of the site.
Once we had been given our bus tickets we were split into two groups and were shown around and given an introductory tour of the open air museum. It was really interesting to see an old 1950’s caravan fully fitted out for a holiday by the seaside – complete with boiled eggs and cereals laid out on the table, a cine camera, windbreak and various other things that would be needed for a trip to the seaside! There was even a forklift which we were told was made at Ramsomes, Sims & Jefferies in Ipswich, which apparently was the first forklift ever made. There were various tandems, co-op trade bikes, a 1950s invalid carriage, a Morris Traveller trade van, various London Cabs, a 1960s mini, and a Reliant Robin to name but a few!
Walking around the museum we saw various co-op milk floats from the 1950s and 60s and many trolley buses and trams, one of which was the oldest one in the country and had been used in Copenhagen from the 1920s. We all enjoyed our short trips on the buses ,trams and the narrow-gauge railway. Hearing the ping on the ticket machine that the conductor used brought back a lot of memories for some of our members.
The museum has taken 50 years to get to where it is now, and we were told that they have just purchased more land behind the museum with a view to expand their collection. They say it will likely take many more years and lots of funding to get to where they want to be, just like some of the vehicles they are currently renovating which I was told could take up to 10 years.
The most interesting thing for me during the trip was that one of our members told me that one of the buses at the museum – the number 334 to Hemel Hempstead – was his old bus! When he started secondary school at 11 years old he took that bus every day to school. It was in many ways a reminder of how much the world has changed in just one lifetime.
Hot drinks, cakes and ice cream were enjoyed by our members before embarking and making our way back. During the coach ride back I was left wondering how many of today’s vehicles would eventually end up in the museum.