The Ipswich Transport Museum houses one of the largest collections in the country of transport exhibits relating to just one area. It first opened to the public in 1995 and since that date has expanded not only its collections but the facilities which are available to the public, its volunteers and to researchers wishing to work with those collections.
We aim to provide an environment where people with an interest in the transport or engineering history of the Ipswich area can increase their knowledge through study and research and share that information with other individuals and organisations.
The Museum does not "belong" to any specific group of people. It is an institution for the benefit of everyone in the Ipswich area and we welcome all who wish to work with the collections.
The "Ipswich Transport Museum" exists to preserve the transport and engineering history of the Ipswich area. It does this through the operation of the Museum itself in Cobham Road, Ipswich, through its website - Ipswich Transport Museum, through the organisation of external events such as exhibitions and rallies, through lectures to other organisations and through public access to its archive, costume and photographic collections. The predecessors of the Museum date back to 1965.
The Ipswich Transport Museum aims to become a leading museum of its type in the country. It is already recognised as a leader in the field of voluntary transport museums. It attempts to meet all current standards relating to the care of its collections and the facilities for visitors.
We will develop the collections to interest, entertain and educate people of all ages.
We aim to convey to the people of Ipswich a sense of how travel in and around the town has developed.
We wish to give the people of Ipswich a focus for their pride in the past engineering achievements of the town.
We seek to provide a safe repository for documents and photographs relating to transport and engineering in the area.
We facilitate the study of these aspects of Ipswich life and business and the dissemination of the results of such studies.
The Museum is open for at least 90 days a year to the general public, generally on Sundays, Bank Holidays and Monday to Friday afternoons in school holidays. We currently welcome 6000 to 7000 visitors each year. We also open during the day or evenings for group visits by societies and clubs with the option of a guided tour. We also welcome schoolchildren of all ages for a guided tour which links to the National Curriculum.
The Museum receives no revenue support from local or national government, other than that Ipswich Borough Council waive their right to 20% of the Uniform Business Rate. The Museum can only exist through raising money from the public paying to see the collections, from its trading subsidiary and through donations and sponsorship. However, we also recognise our wider responsibilities for encouraging research and interest in our collections, and therefore provide free access to those wishing to study our collections. The Museum is generally accessible on one level (there is a small step into the tea room, assistance is given where needed) and is equipped with accessible toilet facilities.
Ipswich Transport Museum Ltd. is a company limited by guarantee (registered no. 1371344), a charity registered with the Charity Commission (no. 276626) and an Accredited Museum (no. RD 890) under the scheme administered by Arts Council East.
There are no shares in Ipswich Transport Museum Ltd. nor can people join it. It is governed by a Council of Management who are Company Directors under company law and Trustees under charity law. One third of the directors retire each year. 'Members' belong to The Friends of Ipswich Transport Museum and have the right to nominate two-thirds of directors each year. Currently there are around ten Trustees, three retiring each year. The Friends can nominate replacements.
The Charities Acts presently require that a separate body carry out trading functions. In our case a wholly owned subsidiary Ipswich Transport Museum Services Ltd. has been formed. All of its shares are owned by Ipswich Transport Museum Ltd. whose Council of Management appoints the directors annually. Ipswich Transport Museum Services runs the entrance shop, the tearoom and external events such as rallies.
Volunteers and other supporters are encouraged to join the Friends of Ipswich Transport Museum. This is run as a supporters association and membership is open to both individuals and business organisations. It publishes a bi-monthly illustrated newsletter "Priory Press" and also organises meetings, tours and social events.
All the people who work for the Museum, whether they are directors, trustees, managers or other workers, do so as volunteers. Nobody is paid for their services or expenses, except contractors hired for specific tasks.
Currently there over 250 Friends of the museum - many are working volunteers. Their work is varied; from maintaining the site and buildings to computer work; from dealing with school parties to welding. They cover all age groups and include both men and women. If you would like to know more then please ask for our Volunteers Handbook which gives lots of information about volunteering activities.
The entire Museum building is protected by both fire and security alarm schemes which are monitored on a 24-hour basis by an external agency. As far as possible all external windows have been eliminated. The cladding of the main building, including the doors, is composed of a composite metal sandwich incorporating a high degree of thermal insulation. The aim is to maintain a weatherproof, bird-proof and vandal-proof building.
The Museum achieved Registered Museum status in 1996. The Registration scheme has been superseded by Accredited Museum status. Our last assessment was approved by the Arts Council in May 2013. Accreditation means that the Museum has proven that it meets the national standards laid down for the acquisition and care of collections. The standard is intended to reassure the public that the Museum is a safe institution for the long term preservation of objects entrusted to it. Only in exceptional circumstances will the Museum consider disposing of items in its collections and then priority will be given to retaining the item within the public domain. See Collections Development Policy.
The Museum contains a large exhibition hall, which houses various transport and engineering displays. The Hall is not subject to environmental controls but the external insulated cladding shell prevents sudden changes of temperature and of relative humidity.
The collections contain a diverse range of materials, including wooden and metal construction, allied to animal products such as leather. As a consequence it is difficult to establish an optimum environment for all exhibits within this hall. Specialist collections are housed in separate rooms which do have some measure of control.
Virtually all of the transport related objects belonging to Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service are displayed within our Museum. This reflects the good spirit of cooperation which exists between the two Ipswich museums.
Road transport material made or operated in the Ipswich area, currently divided into the following displays:-
Horse drawn vehicles
Wheelchairs and perambulators
Local delivery vehicles
Replica cycle shop
Bicycles and motor bicycles (including mopeds)
Replica garage workshop
Other forms of transport are featured in displays incorporating small exhibits, models, photographs and archives, including:
Small exhibits are housed in appropriate containers in a dedicated store on metal racking.
Engineering products of the Ipswich area, including those from:-
Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies
Cocksedge & Co.
Ransomes & Rapier
Gas supply and distribution
Telephone & radio communications
Electricity supply and distribution
These collections include full sized objects ranging from mobile cranes, forklift trucks and factory trucks to lawn mowers and small exhibits. Further interpretation is made with the use of photographs and display panels.
Much of the archive is housed in a dedicated windowless room along with the library and ticket collection. It has background heat from night storage radiators in order to keep the relative humidity steady. Archive papers are stored in archive quality boxes on steel shelving. There are currently around 200 such boxes, occupying many feet of steel shelving. Archives may be studied within the Museum but cannot be taken away from site.
The Library is co-located with the archive collection and benefits from the same storage conditions. The library contains thousands of books and periodicals covering a wide field of transport and engineering. The Museum attempts to keep complete sets of periodicals from local groups involved with transport and engineering. Books may be studied within the Museum but cannot be taken away from site.
The Ticket Collection is co-located with the archive collection and benefits from the same storage conditions. Tickets are stored in archive quality plastic sleeves within A4 4-ring binders. This allows researchers to examine both the front and back of tickets without actually touching them. Tickets from various road and rail companies can be found within the collection. Tickets may be studied within the Museum but cannot be taken away from site.
The Costume Collection is housed in a dedicated windowless room. It benefits from background heat from night storage radiators in order to keep relative humidity steady. It includes around 300 garments used in public transport (including railways), parcel delivery and fire fighting. Garments are stored in segregated areas according to material type. There is also an extensive collection of badges, buttons, ties and other ancillary equipment stored in various containers within cupboards.
The Photograph Collection is housed in a dedicated windowless room. It benefits from background heat from night storage radiators in order to keep relative humidity steady. Photographs are stored in individual archive quality plastic sleeves within A4 4-ring binders. These binders are stored on metal shelving. Larger photographs are stored in individual archive plastic sleeves in special boxes. Negatives are stored in a similar fashion but are physically located in a different part of the room.
The Museum has purchased, with the aid of a grant from the then South Eastern Museums Service, a computer and 35mm slide and negative scanner in order to conserve images on early colour slides. This facility has now been upgraded to include scanning facilities for up to A4 images and up to 6" x 4" negatives. Images are stored in bitmap encoding on compact discs, which are housed in a different part of the Museum. These stored images are perfectly suitable for reproduction in books.
The Museum has contributed photographic images to many recent local publications.
Plans are mainly stored vertically in purpose built metal plan presses. Those too large for such storage are stored, either flat or rolled, on shelving.
Several thousand plans exist as negatives. These are housed in archive quality envelopes.
All objects in the Museums Collections are being recorded on a special computer database which was created by the museum itself. This database records information in accordance with the Spectrum standards evolved by the Museums Documentation Association.
Museum volunteers have extended this database in order to record key information about the subjects of photographs and archives. Thus vehicle details are recorded against registration number, locomotive details against locomotive number, ship details against ships name etc. These records provide valuable information for researchers. The Museum contains a comprehensive computer network.
The Museum offers research facilities free of charge to bone fide researchers. The Museum is always open on Friday mornings from 0900 - 1300 for such purposes but is usually also open Mondays to Fridays from 0900 to 1630. A telephone call in advance will avoid a wasted journey. Researchers are given the use of a desk in the heated office. Various aids are available including computers, microfiche readers etc. Refreshment facilities are available.
Relations with other organisations
The Museum is a member of several local and some national bodies. It offers space within the Museum to publicise other kindred organisations through leaflets, posters and notices. The Museum is happy to offer such facilities to any organisation with an interest in the transport or engineering history of the Ipswich area. Several have used the Museum facilities for reunions, corporate hospitality, product launches etc.
Through its membership of the National Association of Road Transport Museums the Museum is helping to create a national listing of preserved public transport vehicles and develop agreed standards for the operation of preserved buses and coaches.
Cross domain projects
The Museum is happy to consider innovative uses of its space. Several foreign students have made group visits; annually it is used for a major display of oil lamps; presently it is discussing a proposed Arts Festival. We try not to have closed minds and will be happy to discuss any proposal you may have.
Local Books and Videos
We try to stock all locally published books of a transport or engineering interest. We also stock videos, including those from the East Anglian Film Archive. If you are publishing a new book then we would be pleased to stock it. We also offer a mail order service.
The Museum regularly publishes booklets of local transport or engineering matters. These are generally of A5 format, up to 30 - 40 pages and illustrated with both colour and black and white photographs. The technology involved allows for very small production runs at very reasonable costs. We are happy to discuss with you any future such publications that you may have in mind.
The Museum regularly gives a lecture entitled "Wheels of Ipswich" to clubs and societies. We can also offer speakers for specialist transport or engineering subjects. Over the past few years the Museum has initiated programmes of specialist lectures in conjunction with other local societies to commemorate various events and anniversaries.
The Museum demonstrates a number of its vehicles at a limited number of events every year. These provide the public with an opportunity to sample at first-hand the transport methods of previous times.
The Museum has organised the annual Ipswich to Felixstowe Historic Vehicle Run for over forty years. It is now established as the premier event of its type in East Anglia, attracting over 500 vehicles all of which are over thirty years of age.
The Museum maintains its own website - Ipswich Transport Museum. It contains details of most museum exhibits, usually with a small colour photograph. There are also various potted histories and links to many other kindred websites