Continuing our short series on commercial vehicle museum collections, David Reed visited the South Yorkshire Transport Museum.
The South Yorkshire Transport Museum at Aldwarke, in Rotherham, houses a great collection of vehicles and other miscellaneous transport memorabilia. The museum’s history goes back to the 1960s, when Keith Breeden and some other collectors got together and bought a 1946 Leyland PD1 double-deck bus. After using several locations in the Sheffield area, it settled for a time at the former Tinsley tram sheds and was known then at the Sheffield Bus Museum. The hopefully final move to Rotherham came in 2007.
Since then, while buses have remained a big part of the museum, the remit has expanded with more emphasis being placed on commercial vehicles; especially those with a local connection. Some vehicles are brought back to life in the workshop where, at the time of my visit, steady progress was being made on the restoration of an ex-BRS Scammell tractor unit.
Some of the commercials are privately owned, while others are part of the museum’s own collection. Many can be seen attending local rallies, with the collection itself changing from time to time as the occasional, privately-owned vehicle leaves and is replaced by something else.
Ex-military vehicles now form a significant part of the overall collection. These include a privately-owned, ex-RAF 1943 Thornycroft Amazon with a Coles mobile crane that was possibly used on a Nottinghamshire airfield for changing aircraft engines. After sale, it was eventually left to stand in a field until, in 2005, it was bought by Dougie Miller. After originally being fitted with a six-cylinder Thornycroft engine, it’s now powered by a five-cylinder Gardner oil engine.
There’s also a collection of smaller military vehicles, including a privately-owned 1944 Austin K2 ambulance and a 1953 Humber 1-ton truck, while Dave Dean’s 1943 ex-army Diamond T was originally fitted with a Hercules RXC petrol engine, later being used as a council snow plough in Northumberland. After a move to Whitby, it was fitted with a Leyland 401 diesel engine, and was bought from there by Dave about five years ago. His father was in the Royal Engineers in Palestine and used to drive Diamond Ts.
There are also a couple of museum-owned bus company ancillary vehicles. The 1949 Bedford OLAZ tower wagon was new to Rotherham Corporation, and used to service its trolley bus system which ran until 1965. Powered by a Bedford 28hp, 3.5-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine and carrying an Eagle body and tower, it was retained on miscellaneous duties after the closure of the system before laying, unused, for some time before passing into preservation in 1980.
Then came a couple of vehicles that were converted from buses after their passenger-carrying days were over. First up is a 1948 AEC Regent III that was new to Sheffield Corporation. It had been converted to a gritter/emergency vehicle after 12 years of service, and was withdrawn from service in 1978. Also owned by the museum is an ex-Rotherham Corporation 1959 Daimler CVG6-30DD. This ran on passenger services for 12 years before being cut down and converted to a towing/gritter vehicle, and was finally withdrawn in 1984 and then donated to the museum.
A regular on the rally scene with Terry Ellin is a 1953 Leyland Comet 90 that was a recovery/general purpose vehicle for Sheffield Corporation Transport, passing through the hands of subsequent bus companies before being restored by apprentices around 1985. Also with a local connection is the aforementioned mighty 1953 Scammell heavy-haulage tractor unit. Now in the midst of its restoration process, it was part of the BRS fleet as CL1, and later ended up with legendary local haulier Syd Harrison, although it’s not thought to have been used by them.
On a smaller scale is the museum’s 1979 Leyland FG550, which is in the livery of Newton Chambers of Chapeltown, in Sheffield. A couple of electric milk floats also caught the eye. The first was a Metrovick example that was used by the Sheffield & Ecclesall Co-operative in the 1940s, while a 1991 Wales & Edward model was seen in the livery of Express Dairies.
Privately-owned commercials housed in the museum include Dave Stretton’s well-known 1975 Atkinson Borderer, which pulled emergency winding gear for Mines Rescue, serving until the early 1990s at Barnsley Main, while Dave Whittle’s 1936 Bedford WTL recovery was new to H Askey of Sheffield, being retained after retiring from the road on transport duties and used as a recovery vehicle. It has passed to Dave Whittle who has restored the vehicle back to its recovery condition when with Askeys during its latter years.
There’s certainly a lot to see at this interesting museum, which is certainly worth a visit.
FIND OUT MORE
The South Yorkshire Transport Museum is at Waddington Way, off Aldwarke Lane (A6123) at Aldwarke, Rotherham S65 3SH. The regular opening day is the second Sunday of every month, between 10.30am and 4.00pm (last admission 3.00pm), but the museum is also open on other specific days for special events throughout the year; see the website for more details. Special openings for groups and educational/school visits can also be arranged. For more information go to: www.sytm.co.uk
This feature comes from the latest issue of Classic & Vintage Commercials, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE
Rail and Ale Festival on the popular Statfold Barn Railway