The East Anglia Transport Museum is an open-air transport museum, with numerous historic public transport vehicles (including many in full working order). It is located in Carlton Colville a suburb of Lowestoft, Suffolk. It is the only museum in the country where visitors can ride on buses, trams and trolleybuses, as well as a narrow-gauge railway. The museum was founded on its present site in 1965, following the rescue of the body of an old Lowestoft tram (number 14) which had been used for a number of years as a summerhouse. The site at Carlton Colville was formerly a meadow, donated by the founder and first chairman of the Museum Society. The first buildings on the site were constructed in 1966, but it was not until 1981 that full tram and trolleybus operations could commence following the construction of a suitable roadway. The Museum's narrow gauge railway (the "East Suffolk Light Railway") opened in 1973.
The museum's compact site is a veritable treasure trove of discovery and provides a suitable backdrop in which to operate and display the collection of vehicles. From dense woodland to a full width roadway complete with authentic street furniture not an inch of precious space is wasted. The Tramway: The museum is very fortunate to have a tramline that is relatively compact and easy to manage, whilst being long enough for visitors to fully appreciate a ride by vintage tram. After travelling along the museum street, trams turn off onto a wonderfully atmospheric woodland tramline, terminating at Hedley Grove picnic area. Visitors may return to the museum on either the same or another tram, or take a leisurely stroll along the woodland path, from where unique views of the trams in a woodland setting can be seen.
The Trolleybus Route: On 10th January 1971 history was made when London Transport trolleybus 1521 was the first of its kind to run under trolleybus overhead in a museum anywhere in the country. Now the museum circuit is probably the most complex of its kind in the country, in terms of the number of possible movements constrained by overhead wiring. In July 2008 the amount of roadway available for trolleybus operation was almost doubled, allowing a circular route around the site to be taken. Additionally, the museum has always been known among enthusiasts as the 'home' of the preserved London trolleybus, with No's 260, 796, 1201 and 1521 in residence.
The East Suffolk Light Railway: This is the title given to the 2ft gauge railway which opened in 1973 to recreate a typical light railway of years gone by. It winds its way along the northern perimeter of the Museum between the main station at Chapel Road, and Woodside, the furthest point of the trolleybus route. Motive power is provided by two Simplex industrial locos, previously working at Duxford Imperial War Museum, and a Ruston engine, which prior to its work at the museum, was in use with Portland Cement at Lewes, Sussex. In addition there is a 1934 Simplex loco which came to the museum from the King's Lynn quarry of British Industrial Sand. Passenger rolling stock comprises an 18 seat enclosed bogie carriage built on a chassis that is now over 100 years old, and a four-wheeled brake van, built on what used to be a 1934 Simplex loco. The railway is home to some of the most interesting large-scale artifacts' including the only remaining piece of the 3ft gauge Southwold Railway closed in 1929 - a luggage van originally built in 1885.
All trams and trolleybuses start their journey at Chapel Road Terminus before transporting visitors along the various parts of the custom-built road network. The museum has collected relevant items of street furniture (including post boxes, phone boxes, street lamps etc) since the beginning and the aim is to show the vehicles operating in an environment that is both interesting and appropriate. There are many photographic opportunities around the site. The museum has a number of exhibition halls filled with historic vehicles and artifacts where visitors can come and view part of the extensive collection. With displays focussed on cars, commercial vehicles, electric vehicles and steam, there is surely something to interest everyone. Vehicles include a 1904 Lowestoft tram, 1926 Danish trolleybus, a pair of 1924 steam road rollers, a 1916 sided lorry and a 1937 Austin taxi. There are well over 50 different vehicles on display.
The museum is fully wheelchair accessible but remember that the vehicles were built in an era before disabled access was an issue and thus most of the rides are non-accessible. There are accessible toilet facilities. Assistance dogs are welcome, there are drinking bowls and water available. The vehicles can all be touched. There are a number of special events throughout the year (see calendar below).
Location : East Anglia Transport Museum, Chapel Road, Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 8BL
Transport: Lowestoft (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 103 (Lowestoft), SJL4, X22 and 106 (Norwich) stop close by.
Opening Times : See Calendar 12:00 to 16:30
Tickets : Adults £9.00; Seniors £7.00; Children (5 - 15) £6.00
Tel: 01502 518459