The Wirral Transport Museum and Heritage Tramway at Birkenhead recently opened for the first time since March 2020 for a trial re-opening.
Following the trial re-opening, it has since been agreed by Museum Manager, Tony Cooper and Terry Martin, Chair of the charity that runs the museum, Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society (MTPS) to re-open on a permanent basis. Wirral Council, who own the museum, have confirmed that the museum will re-open.
Museum Manager, Tony Cooper, said, “I’m so glad things went so well at the [trial] weekend and you can now return to regular weekend working”
Terry Martin, MPTS Chair, said, “Thanks to all the volunteer’s who have worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to get everything ready for our full re-opening” and he also passed on his regards from Tony Cooper who also thanked the team for all their efforts in preparation for the reopening.
The museum will now return back to its normal opening times: Every Saturday & Sunday from 1.00pm until 4.00pm. Plus Bank Holidays from 1.00pm until 4.00pm
A spokesperson said, “We are in the final stages of recommissioning the trams and almost finished the tram driver and tram conductor refresher training so it is hoped that with-in a couple of weeks we will also have the trams running again for our visitors to ride and experience heritage tram travel.”
About the museum
Why a tramway and museum in Birkenhead? American, George Francis Train, created the first street tramway in Europe here in 1860. He was quite a character. It is thought that the fictional character Phileas Fogg (Around the World in 80 days) was based on him.
The Wirral Transport Museum is housed in a building that has seen many uses since it was built. The original part of the building (1892) was used for stabling horses in transit from Ireland. This was unusual in that the stabling was over two storeys. The stables area now houses our model railway.
The next occupant of the building was Moorhouses Minerals. Used as a manufacturing facility for their range of carbonated soft drinks. The company was taken over by Birkenhead Brewery in 1951. In the late fifties, the company was taken over by Threlfalls Brewery and again in the sixties by Whitbread Brewery. Moorhouse’s lemonade then became R Whites (Whitbread Minerals division). All production ceased in 1983. Wirral Borough Council later purchased the building to replace Pacific Road as the home of The Wirral Transport Museum.
Wirral Borough Council created The Wirral Transport Museum as a visitor attraction at Pacific Road in 1995, mainly through European funding. Pacific Road also became home to the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society which was formed by a group of Liverpool University students in 1960 to preserve Liverpool Corporation Tramways car 869.
Two Hong Kong tram cars were purchased and shipped to Birkenhead courtesy of P&O ferries. The Hong Kong cars together with some of the restored heritage fleet operated a service between Woodside and Pacific Road. The tramway was extended to Egerton Bridge. Following a decision to convert the rear of Pacific Road into a theatre, the line was further extended to Taylor Street, the line opening on 10th February 2001. The Museum and Tramway then completed the move into the Taylor Street building.