Salford transport history

The Museum of Transport Greater Manchester is currently working on a project that will refurbish the engine of a 1939 AEC ‘Regent’ bus. 

This engine overhaul should be complete by the end of this year, ready for their centenary event which will celebrate 100 years of Salford Corporation buses.

This was supposed to take place last year, however was not able to go ahead because of Covid-19 restrictions. It is hoped that it will eventually take place in October 2021.

Paul Williams, from the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester, said: “When we’re finished on it, we’re not promising that anyone can ride it when we have our celebration, as we don’t want to wear it out. People will definitely be able to look at it and take pictures of it.

“At this event, which fingers crossed will be in October, we will be able to give people free rides on some of our other old Salford vintage buses.

“The buses look great – but actually it’s about the memories they bring back to people and the trip back in time that our events create, it’s very special for people.”

Paul explained that they have several Salford Corporation buses in their collection at the museum, however this particular bus is ‘by far’ the oldest and possibly the most interesting.

“This bus was new in 1939, it had 48 seats, a double-decker. It worked all the way through the blitz and through the blackout, which was very hard, Salford was quite badly affected by the blitz.

“In the late 1940’s, it was taken out of service and it was converted to a driver trainer, and what that meant was that it literally had a completely separate set of controls put in behind the driver’s cab. It was used for training drivers all the way through until 1970.”

The old depot for Salford Corporation buses was on Frederick Road, and it is now used as student flats

The bus became part of the Museum of Transport’s collection when they were first formed in the 1970’s, as it had been seen as a particularly interesting and historic bus, therefore it was preserved. However, it was a long time before they were able to do anything with it.

“About 10 years ago we did all the bodyworks. We did all the seats and the isles and the paint. It looks really lovely.

“At the time, we didn’t have the resources or the spare parts to do the last piece on it, which is the engine. That’s the piece of work that we’re doing on it now.”

Paul spoke about how it’s not just the older generations that show a huge interest in these vintage buses, as he sees younger generations getting involved and wanting to learn more about our heritage too. He thinks people of all ages can be captivated by this history.

“You only have to scratch the surface and there’s an awful lot of history in Salford.

“I’ll tell you something that I bet you didn’t know. The United Kingdom’s very first bus service, before London and before anywhere else, was in Salford in 1824. Salford has a lot of transport history.”

“Of course we can’t be open to the public at the minute, and we’re hoping to be open as soon as restrictions are lifted, but the phrase that we hear time and time again (at the museum) is, ‘this is what I used to go to school on’”

“In general, people tend to take more of an interest in our heritage than they used too.”


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