South Yorkshire Transport Museum
The South Yorkshire Transport Museum, formerly the Sheffield Bus Museum, is a museum which documents the history of transport in South Yorkshire and surrounding areas. The museum is located in the village of Aldwarke, part of Rotherham. In addition to buses the museum also features the lower deck of a former Sheffield Tramway, a tractor, a lorry, milk floats and an extensive array of bicycles plus static displays of models and memorabilia.
The museum moved to its present location in 2007, when it also changed its name. Since late 2009 there are two units: bay 8 and bay 9.
Monthly open days take place on the second Sunday each month when visitors can view the vehicles and displays in both units and take light refreshments in the museum cafe. Some of the open days during the year feature a particular theme such as a Bus Running Day in May, Models Exhibition in June and the Annual South Yorkshire Transport Rally in September.
Keith Beeden was one of the founding fathers of the bus preservation movement in Sheffield and has been a mainstay of the development of the Museum from a small set of schoolboys in the late 1960s to a full-fledged and respected Transport Museum today. Here he tells the story up to Easter 2007 in his own words. The SHEFFIELD BUS MUSEUM TRUST opened the Transport Museum at the Tinsley Tram Sheds in 1987. The origins of the SBMT were actually much earlier, when schoolboys at High Storrs Grammar School became interested in the local transport scene. By the late sixties a 1946 vintage Leyland PD1 double deck bus had been purchased by a group that was the nucleus of the Sheffield Omnibus Enthusiasts Society, the aim of which was to preserve an old bus. Thus was the local area interest in the conservation of historical vehicles formed.
Together with the South Yorkshire Transport Group (later renamed SYT Society) the two entities combined their interests with the aim of developing a local bus collection policy. From the efforts of various individuals in association with the two parties, a variety of vehicles formerly operated by the Sheffield, Rotherham and North East Derbyshire operators were brought together. They consisted of both single and double deck buses, even including a Rotherham double deck trolleybus. The vehicles were kept on an open site in a building suppliers yard at Heeley. In order to formalise the vehicle collection policy, the Sheffield Bus Preservation Circle was inaugurated.
The South Yorkshire PTE recruited a new Public Relations Officer, named Bruce Hugman. He was extremely interested in the local preservation scene, and quickly made himself known, with some exciting ideas to contribute. Bruce was instrumental in a link with the South Yorkshire Railway Society, bringing another group interested in local transport matters. This broader emphasis, now including rail interests, led to a change of title for the content of the collection, to come into line, the SBPC now became the South Yorkshire Transport Collection, with the aim of formulating a transport collection, on a suitable site to form a museum for public appreciation.
Problems ensued when the Wilkinson’s builders yard had to be vacated at short notice and this led to a dispersal of the collection, as a temporary measure. The trolleybus went to Sandtoft, a bus went to nearby Haxey and some were exiled to Co. Durham and Merseyside. A few did remain in the Sheffield area, but the situation was quite unsatisfactory.
At this juncture, the future of the collection was in doubt and an intensive search for alternative accommodation was set in motion. Bruce Hugman succeeded in persuading Sheffield Council to provide an unused building at the Kelham Island Industrial Museum. With a great sense of relief and jubilation, the dispersed fleet of local vehicles was moved into the new site. First of all came the single deckers, as the single entrance at Kelham was not of sufficient height to admit a double-decker. We agreed to share the cost of the alterations to the door, to admit higher vehicles, so that shortly after, the double-decker fleet could be moved in.
This happy state of affairs did not last for long: the Kelham management decided to use our section for an expansion project of its own. After ten months residence, the vehicle collection was again in need of a new home and the feverish search for a new site was again set in motion. Our South Yorkshire Railway associates offered a joint proposal to occupy part of the Newton Chambers site at Chapeltown. An appraisal of the intended site was to reveal that there were possibilities in the joint operation of a Rail and Road transport venture at Chapeltown. Therefore, with the assistance of officials and employees of SYPTE, another transfer from Kelham Island was pursued, to occupy our new base at Newton Chambers, in 1985. The arrangement with SYRS proved to be quite unsatisfactory, for among other problems, the whole site was to be re-developed as an Industrial Estate. Once again a withdrawal was put in hand and the vehicles dispersed, with local operators, including Richardson Travel and South Yorkshire Transport, offering accommodation for some buses in the period up to deregulation.
At this point, our morale was at a low ebb, for the continued existence of the collection was in serious doubt. With a last determined push a thoroughly intensive effort was made by the senior members to resolve this recurring problem.
Premises for lease were inspected which included the B& C Co-operative site at Attercliffe, a site at Green Lane Ecclesfield and premises on Bridge Street, Sheffield, for various reasons, all were rejected.
Finally, a chance to view the Tinsley Tram Sheds premises at the junction of Weedon Street Attercliffe Common was presented. Built in 1873-4 for the Sheffield Tramways Company and taken over by Sheffield Corporation in 1896 and extended in 1900, this historic site seemed to fulfil the needs required by a transport collection. Its great age was a problem, but an inspection seemed to support the view that the condition of the building was reasonable, and a long 25-year lease was available. Eventually, Bay 3 was made available for occupancy and discussions with the various parties resulted in the appointment of five Trustee/ Guarantors to sign the lease. With a few modifications and a repair to the main door, the collection of vehicles was moved in stages to the new, permanent home.
The five Trustees of the Sheffield Bus Museum Trust (a charity) were also Guarantors of the lease and later Directors of SBMT Ltd (a company limited by guarantee). They bore personal financial liability for the rent payable to the Landlord: a responsibility that weighed heavily upon them. Without these men (Keith Beeden, Mike Greenwood, David Roberts, David Tummon and Eric Wilson) all the positive developments that have led to the present situation could not have taken place. (Ed.)
From early in the new regime, problems of flooding were to be a constant feature and a gradual deterioration of the main structure and roof assembly, over a number of years, with little maintenance carried out by the Landlord’s, led to a generally run down building. The lease conditions did not permit an early release from the contract, so that little could be done to move away. Storm damage and the theft of lead from the roof in 2006, rendered an intolerable atmosphere of dereliction and decrepitude, making the premises unfit for purpose.
The Landlords made an abortive attempt to effect roofing repairs, but in the event no contractor was prepared to carry out such work. At this stage, with the fifth and final portion of the lease due, the Directors/ Guarantors were offered the termination of the lease – without financial penalty. After the relevant discussions, all parties agreed to this termination plan.
The first event day was celebrated at Easter 2007, when the new premises (now termed the SOUTH YORKSHIRE TRANSPORT MUSEUM) were opened to the general public. This first event day attracted a large audience of local people.
- South Yorkshire Transport Museum - official site