Our museum building itself has historic significance. Built in 1936/37
it was a former Ipswich Corporation Transport trolleybus
depot. The Museum has been based here since 1989 and the building was extensively
refurbished in 2001.
The main hall contains our bigger exhibits and displays where you can
see a fascinating collection of Ipswich's Transport and Engineering Heritage covering some 200 years.
Some of our exhibits are maintained in operational condition and are used on Special Event Open Days. Entry is allowed inside many of our static vehicles enabling you to sample the sights and sounds of the past.
Most of the museum is on one level with step free access from outside.
We have an accessible WC to accommodate those with mobility problems.
Sunbeam Tea Room
We have a baby change table in our accessible WC and disposal bins are
provided in all our WCs
Wander round our restoration zone and see what we’re restoring. Our volunteers
may be working while you are visiting – if they are why not have a chat
and see what they’re up to?
We have a large G scale model railway, and children off all ages can drive
one of the trains on the layout.
For our younger visitors we have tables set aside with jigsaws to make, a wooden train set and pictures to colour in. You can also drive Dennis the bus and see Kenny the Conductor.
Fancy a souvenir of your visit? Our well stocked Gift Shop has books,
models and other items to suit all ages.
Take a peek
Our Google Streetview allows you a sneak preview. We've changed the layout a bit since the tour was compiled but you'll get a good idea of what there is to see and how we display our treasured objects. This virtual tour has been provided by Carl Lamb of Ambient Light. We are very grateful to Carl for arranging this for us.
Click or tap on the panels below to see a list of some of our major exhibits.
starts with an historic Sedan Chair. There are numerous bicycles, motorbikes and mopeds, including an early ‘Boneshaker’, ‘Penny Farthing’ examples, right through to more modern bikes like the Raleigh ‘Bomber’ of the 1970s.
include three historic carriages dating back well into the 1800s; there are also delivery vans and carts and a tower wagon, which was used to maintain tramway overhead wires.
comprehensively covers the complete lineage of horse tram, electric tram, trolleybus, motorbus and coach travel from the 1880s to the 1990s. Our vehicles are typical examples of the kind you would have seen and travelled on day in and day out. You may well remember some of them, but probably not our fabulously restored Ipswich electric tram or Railless trolleybus!
includes manual pumps, carts and escapes, as well as shiny red fire engines. Lots of firefighting equipment is on display too. Why not try on a fireman’s helmet for size? Other Emergency Vehicles include a police car and two ambulances.
features various lorries and trucks that have operated in the town. Bristol, ERF, Scammell, Commer, Atkinson – do you remember these manufacturers?
if this is your thing, we’ve got a huge collection of objects, most made locally. Our Ipswich Engineering Collection represents items designed and made in the town by firms such as Ransomes and Rapier, Ransomes Sims and Jefferies, Reavell, Cocksedge and ER&F Turner. Perhaps you didn’t know that industries in Ipswich used to build cranes, forklifts, factory trucks, trolleybuses, agricultural machinery, compressors, walking drag lines and a myriad of other things which kept Ipswich at the forefront of machinery development. We’ve even covered the history of the humble lawnmower.
Maintenance and Repairs
includes a 1948 tower wagon, road roller and roadman’s living van, as well as Council lorries and an exquisite Lacre depot floor sweeper.
You can see a comprehensive array of vehicles developed to run on electricity. Our Ransomes battery-electic lorry is 100 years old, and it’s accompanied by a milk float, laundry van, trolleybus and greengrocery cart. We also cover failed attempts to revive the technology in the last 30 to 40 years.
Collections and deliveries
covers a wide scope of objects – from a funeral bier and hearse to costermonger’s barrow, to prams, pushchairs and even early bath chairs and wheelchairs.
Small objects and displays
Our magnificent objects are accompanied by a variety of small objects, costumes and equipment. You can see old uniforms, ticket machines, milk bottles, office equipment and all sorts of other things. We have a number of dioramas for you to explore, including Squirrels Cycle Shop, Priory Garage and our ' windows on the past' which contain old boxes, packets and things you used to buy.
We have wall and model displays covering electricity generation and distribution, water-borne transport, air transport and displays of intricate models, many of them hand built and very old.
Historical background . . .
Transport and engineering have been integral to the development of Ipswich. Situated on the River Orwell, river transport led to the development of a port. The Railways came in 1846, providing faster links to other towns and cities. The town spread after the introduction of horse trams in 1880, and electric trams in 1903.
The council expanded the transport network in tandem with the electricity supply undertaking in the 1920s and 30s, bringing trolleybuses in the town, and private enterprise brought motorbus and coach services from surrounding areas.
The convenient transport links led to the development of Engineering firms like Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies, Ransomes and Rapier, Cocksedge, Reavells and ER&F Turner, brewers Tolly Cobbold, merchants including Cranfields and R&W Paul, and Transport companies like Eastern Counties, British Road Services and coach operators like JDW, Bickers and P&M. The developing town needed hospitals, police and fire services, and their growing dependence on motor transport