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
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 -
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
- 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 over
4,000 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 fully accessible by wheelchair and is equipped with wheelchair 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 a Registered Museum (no. RD 890)
under the scheme administered by re:source (formerly the Museums & Galleries Commission).
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. The Friends of Ipswich Transport Museum
have the right to nominate two-thirds of directors each year. Currently there are nine
directors, three retiring each year. The Friends can nominate two in replacement.
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 are over 70 volunteers working for the Museum. Many help once or twice a week,
others whenever they can. 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. These schemes comply with the latest
standards called for by Building Control and the Fire and Police Authorities. 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 has achieved Registered Museum status with the Museums & Galleries Commission since
1996 for phase 1 of the Museum Registration Scheme. In 2001 it was granted registration for
phase 2 of the scheme, now administered by re:source as successor to the Museums & Galleries
Registration 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.
Full details of the Acquisition and Disposal Policy can be also be
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
Ipswich Borough Museums
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
Other forms of transport are featured in displays incorporating small exhibits, models,
photographs and archives, including:
- Fire fighting
- Horse drawn vehicles
- Wheelchairs and perambulators
- Local delivery vehicles
- Replica cycle shop
- 1885 Horse tram depot, building and track. (Currently in storage).
- Public Transport
- Bicycles and motor bicycles (including mopeds)
- Road haulage
- Service vehicles
- Replica garage workshop
- Airborne Transport
- Railway Transport
- Waterborne Transport
Small exhibits are housed in appropriate containers in a dedicated store on metal racking.
Engineering products of the Ipswich area, including those from:-
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.
- Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies
- Bull Motors
- Cocksedge & Co.
- Ransomes & Rapier
- Gas supply and distribution
- Telephone & radio communications
- Electricity supply and distribution
- Motor engineering
This 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.
The Plans Collection is housed in a dedicated windowless room. It benefits from background heat
from night storage radiators in order to keep relative humidity steady. 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 computer network of some 6 computers which are all networked together.
We are hoping to double this in the future with computer workstations situated in each storage
area of the Museum.
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 in the
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.
The Museum is one of a few local institutions to be involved in an exciting project
"East of England Sense of Place" or "EESOP". This aims to bring a sense
of identity to the East of England through images of objects, archives and photographs from
local institutions, all to be published through the internet or World Wide Web. Throughout
2002 a team has been working in various institutions, including the Ipswich Transport Museum,
to capture images for this project.
"Access to Archives" is another innovative project which, in 2003, aims to catalogue
the industrial archives within Suffolk. The Ipswich Transport Museum will be working alongside
the Suffolk Record Office to create this new resource for researchers in the future.
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
The Museum has organised the annual
Ipswich to Felixstowe Historic Vehicle Run
for over thirty 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.
Another annual event is the Come and Ride on our Buses
day, held in October. Every year we focus on a different theme such as 70 years of Eastern
Counties, 100 years of Municipal Transport etc. The Museum attempts to recreate the
atmosphere of the past with authentic uniforms, tickets and so on.
The Museum maintains its own website -
This currently receives 160 - 200 hits per week. 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.
The Museum maintains a Forward Plan. This contains details of the future development of the
Museum. Currently we have completed phase one of a three phase redevelopment of the Museum site.
Phase two will see a two-storey entrance block built in the rear yard, housing entrance, gift
shop, tea-room, toilets, education room and office. The education room is designed to be
suitable for local societies to hold meetings.
Phase three will see the demolition of most of the existing single storey structure alongside
Wright Road and its replacement by a full height extension to the main exhibition hall. This
will increase the width of the exhibition hall by 30 feet and allow for improved layout of
displays. We are currently examining the possibility of this structure being two-storey so as
to increase still further the display area.
In the longer term we envisage construction of separate workshop facilities in the rear yard,
the reconstruction of the former Ipswich Horse Tram depot and possibly the Coal Merchants hut
from Derby Road.
We also keep in mind the possibility of demonstrating both tram and trolleybuses using track
and poles which we have in store.
The future development of the Museum will always be constrained by the twin factors of volunteer
labour and finance. Given the record of achievement so far, we are confident that we can
fulfil our current Forward Plan within the next few years.