In an announcement which came as a bit of a surprise National Museums Liverpool have announced plans for a new transport museum in Birkenhead, with funding coming from the government’s Town Deal Fund. £25 million has been awarded to Wirral Council for a range of regeneration projects in Birkenhead which includes work on an 800 metre stretch of the former Dock Branch Railway line and is set to include a new 500 square metre attraction.
With a working title of The Transport Shed, the new attraction will be central to the new Dock Branch Park (a unique urban parkland developed on the site of the now disused Dock Branch Railway Line) and is set to display items from National Museums Liverpool’s 250 strong transport collection to give the public better access than ever before.
Sandra Penketh, Executive Director of Galleries & Collection Care at National Museums Liverpool, said: “This is an incredible opportunity to for us to create a permanent home for our transport collections and to support ambitious plans for the regeneration of Birkenhead Town Centre. It will mean that we can display collections from our stores that would otherwise not be accessible to the public. Using our collection for inspiration, we will be able to support various initiatives that focus on learning, skills development and wellbeing. We are very much looking forward to working in partnership with Wirral Council to deliver this exciting new heritage attraction in an area steeped in UK transport history. It will be an honour as well to work in collaboration with the amazing volunteers at the Wirral Transport Museum. Our transport collections are much loved and appreciated by visitors of all ages so we hope this new attraction will bring lots of joy to many local communities as well as to new visitors to Birkenhead. We can’t wait to get started on making our plans a reality and to give these objects the pride of place they deserve.”
A selection of National Museums Liverpool transport collection will go on display – including commercial vehicles, horse drawn carriages, fire engines, motorcycles and bicycles – and will complement the existing Wirral Transport Museum, home to the trams which run on the Wirral Heritage Tramway.
There is an aim of attracting 200,000 visitors each year and it is hoped that this will help to support the regeneration of Birkenhead. Its also planned that the Dock Branch Park will provide a good venue for events such as car and steam rallies linking in with the existing Wirral Bus and Tram Show.
Cllr Tony Jones, Chair of Wirral Council’s Economy, Regeneration and Development Committee, said: “Bringing a brand-new visitor attraction to the centre of Birkenhead is something which we’re really excited about. Birkenhead is the focus for major transformation right now and projects like this which will create new experiences for residents and attract new visitors are an important part of that change. Wirral, and Birkenhead in particular, has a proud transport heritage which will be reflected both inside The Transport Shed, and outside in Dock Branch Park. National Museums Liverpool has an exceptional track record of running museums and galleries which keep millions of visitors coming year after year, so we’re delighted to be working with them to give these fascinating objects a permanent home in Birkenhead.”
If all goes according to plan work on the Dock Branch Park should start at the end of 2022.
- Not forgetting the current transport museum in Birkenhead, volunteers are now back at the Wirral Transport Museum and after a period of recommissioning and retraining it is hoped it won’t be too long before a service can finally resume on the heritage tramway.