how the Museum used to look before redevelopment

Coventry Transport Museum is a Museum which holds the largest collection of British Road Transport in the world.

The current Museum began as the Museum of British Road Transport in 1980. The site chosen was at a building formerly used by Matterson, Huxley & Watson, Iron Founders at Cook Street and Hales Street. After much reconstruction the converted building was opened as a Transport Museum in October 1980 by the Lord Mayor Tom McClatchie. At first, the collection consisted of 100 motor vehicles, 190 cycles and 60 motorcycles. Many of the cycles originated from a collection sourced by Sammy Bartleet, who presented around 70 to the City in 1937.

In 1985, a new main entrance to the Museum was created at Hales Street, to replace the entrance at Cook Street. This new approach enabled far more people to see that Coventry was home to a growing transport museum. The opening of the Hales Street entrance fittingly coincided with events celebrating the Centenary of the motor car.

In 1987, the Museum acquired Thrust 2, the then holder of the world land speed record, and by 1989, the Museum collection consisted of 170 motor vehicles, 200 cycles and 75 motorcycles, and became recognised as a National Museum.

In 1992, the Museum received a record 87,000 visitors, the same year as the Tiatsa Exhibition opens – the largest collection of model vehicles gathered in one place.

By 1995, the Museum collection comprised of some 220 motor vehicles, 230 cycles and 90 motorcycles. Three years later, the collection was designated as a collection of national importance. Also in this year, free admissions were introduced which saw visitor figures rocket to over 160,000 by 1999.

In July 2001, the Museum completed the purchase of Thrust SSC, the latest land speed record car, to add to Thrust 2, acquired some 14 years earlier. They both form part of the Spirit of Speed exhibition which opened in 2003. In March 2004 a brand new Museum frontage was opened to the public facing out on to Millennium Place.

Today the Museum collection comprises of some 250 Motor vehicles, 300 cycles, and 120 motorcycles, and welcomes well in excess of 300,000 visitors a year.

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