Morris Minor Day at Manchester Museum of Transport is an annual event organised in conjunction with the Manchester Branch of the Morris Minor Ownersâ€™ Club and the Manchester Museum of Transport. This event was first arranged by Beryl and Ron Jones from North Wales in 1996 and has been a successful early start to the show calendar for many Morris Minor owners across the north west.
Sunday 23rd February was typically cold and damp with a mix of dry spells. 45 Morris Minors were packed into the museum display area with a further 6 on show on the turning circle by the entrance. As we arrived, one of the heritage buses was due to leave on one of the free tours of Manchester. Our bus for this trip was a 1963 London Transport AEC Routemaster, RM 1414. Having ridden many half cab buses from this era, I was pleasantly surprised with how â€˜modernâ€™ the ride and handling felt. The engine also seemed smooth and gear changes slick – put down to the 4-speed semi-automatic gearbox of course.
After a lengthy trip down into the city centre, past the town hall and returning via Manchester City Stadium, we decided on a spot of lunch in the refreshment room. After a hearty pie and peas we were ready for the exhibition halls.
First vehicle on our tour was the prototype Metrolink tram (#1000) which went on public display prior to the tram system inauguration in 1992. Next we checked the varied collection of double deck buses in the lower hall. I always enjoy looking at the half cab buses from the 40s and 50s with numerous well preserved Leyland and AEC single and double deck examples on show. But my favourite is the black and white Warburton Bros Bedford OB coach from 1947, which reminded me instantly of the comedy film, Titfield Thunderbolt. There are examples of even earlier buses from the 20s and 30s on display with two fine examples of Ribble liveried Leyland Lions in the upper hall.
A 1934 Crossley Mancunian double deck bus, ANB 851, #436, is also awaiting restoration and a special appeal has been launched to fund the work. ANB 851 has had a chequered history and was used for many years as living accommodation and is missing many parts needed to return it to original condition. The early Leyland Atlanteans reminded me of a previous life many years ago – â€˜On the Busesâ€™. There buses from all eras right up to the 90s with many quite rare examples. The museum also has a collection of trolley buses, lorries, recovery vehicles and even a 1940s fire engine.
Back into the upper hall and we chatted with old friends and checked out the great display of Minors from across the decades. There are still roughly 15,000 Morris Minors registered on the DVLA database which is amazing since all variants had ceased production by 1973. A great selection of saloons, Travellers and even a van were on show… with many in not so perfect condition which is always a delight to see. One did catch my eye though â€¦a brilliant white convertible that didnâ€™t quite look standard. Indeed the car was a Morris Minor but flawlessly amalgamated with a Mk II Mazda MX-5. Many hours of hard work went into this customisation and the results are spectacular. This car was so good that I invited him to feature the results in our Virtual Car Show section.
The transport museum is based in Boyle Street, Cheetham Hill, Manchester and its aim is to preserve and promote Greater Manchesterâ€™s public transport heritage. The premises hold a sizeable collection, one of the largest of its kind in the UK, but due to the size of the building, some vehicles have to be kept off-site, with exhibits changed around every so often. In addition, vehicles often attend events around the country during the summer months. Entrance fee to the museum is only Â£4 for adults with children under 16 free, which makes it a very cheep day out for a family. Many special events are arranged throughout the year and the museum is open to the public on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays (except Christmas and New Year). As an added bonus the museum is also open each day during August.
The MMOC Manchester Branch Winter Rally is an annual event and well worth a visit. Other car clubs put on similar car shows and the Museum of Transport has a busy events calendar for2014. Visit www.gmts.co.uk for more information.