London Bus Museum
The museum is operated by the London Bus Preservation Trust and exhibits around thirty-five examples (from its forty+ collection) of London buses, coaches and ancillary vehicles covering 100 years of development of the bus in London including Victorian-era horse-buses, 1920s open-top buses, streamlined 1930s designs and through the Second World War to the mass-standardisation of the 1950s, the Routemasters of the 1960s and the rear-engined buses of the 1970s. The collection includes pre-WW2 AEC Regents, post-war AEC Regent III RTs and Routemasters and the exhibits are arranged in an historical timeline, divided into galleries representing milestones in the development of the London bus, placing each artefact in its contemporary setting. The Museum's collection contains some unique exhibits, many of which have been fully restored by the volunteers, including prototypes of the AEC Regent III RT and the Routemaster and the only surviving Second World War "utility" bus that ran in London.
The origins of the museum lie in the foundation of the London Bus Preservation Group (LBPG) in 1966, an association of individual owners of London buses who wished to pool their resources. Some members of that group had attempted to preserve old London buses as far back as 1952 but their first success came with the purchase in 1956 of a 1929 AEC Regal single-decker which had originated with the London General Omnibus Company and which is now generally recognised as the first bus to be privately preserved in the UK. In 1972, the LBPG acquired a former Second World War aircraft factory, now demolished, near Cobham, Surrey where the private Cobham Bus Museum was established, taking its name from the location.
Although the museum had in the interim become a Registered Charity and a Registered Museum, by the early 2000s its future was uncertain as the building was deteriorating and planning permission could not be obtained to operate a public museum from the location, thereby jeopardising both the charitable and museum statuses. Eventually, the operating Trust was able to negotiate the acquisition of a large plot of land from the nearby Brooklands Museum Trust on the location of the former Brooklands racing circuit and aircraft production site. A deal was struck for the redevelopment of the old museum site and the construction of a new building at the new location, thus providing the museum with a secure home from where it could open daily to the public. The new, purpose-built premises opened in 2011 and the London Bus Museum name was adopted.
- "London Bus Museum". London Bus Preservation Trust. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
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