Adventures in Heritage – Coventry Transport Museum

Ready for some more Adventures in Heritage? This week we decided to stay close to home and spend some time in our local Culture Coventry venues. It was nice to visit places in my city, and to get up and close to some of the cars that I’ve been reading about on the Rootes project!


Back at the Herbert again this week.  Little did I know what fun what was in store for me this week! As promised, I was started on a brand new cataloguing project. Not only does the Herbert house the extensive Rootes collection, it’s also home to a variety of other materials – including a vast array of documents from the engineering company Waring and Brown.

After being shown the collection (an impressive 2 filing cabinets full of little brown envelopes) I was left to my own devices as to how best catalogue the material.  This made me feel like a trusted member of the team, that they were happy to let me just get on with the task and that my judgement was good enough for them! The envelopes are very well labelled so I don’t actually need to read through all the articles to find out the subject matter. I do flick through them to record what types of documents there are (press cuttings, technical drawings etc.) and to make a note of the range of dates. This can be a very impressive range over one topic – I’ve definitely seen one set of documents cover from 1915 to 1961.

Partway through this process, Jane from Conservation came down to ask if I’d like to give her a hand with some paintings in Gallery 1. Not sure what to expect, I agreed and went along to find out what was going on. Turned out that we were helping to pack up some loaned portraits to return to the National Portrait Gallery.

This ended up being a rather fun activity, even if we couldn’t quite work out how the packing from the first crate actually fitted together to start with! It was also really interesting to watch Jane and the courier inspect the paintings ever so carefully to check for damage (pleased to report that there was none!).  I also got to ask lots and lots of questions, which the team were all more than happy to answer for me.

Our small team worked diligently through lunchtime so we gave ourselves a well earned break! I then went to help Jane some more in Conservation where I helped to wrap up some broken glass plate negatives. She trusted me to get on with this by myself which, again, made me feel really valued. I removed some adhesive from one negative and then cleaned it up – I felt a bit like a pro, just getting on with it on my own (well, Jane was always around to give me a hand when I needed it). Eagerly looking forward to next week!

Rachel Reviews… Coventry Transport Museum

We were thinking about going to Packwood House this week, but seeing as we had a concert to perform at in the early evening we decided that things might end up being a bit of a rush. So, we paid a visit to the recently refurbished Coventry Transport Museum – something that we’ve been meaning to do for a while now.

It’s a free to enter museum, which is always a good way to start the day. The museum transports the visitor through the decades, from Coventry’s industrial beginnings right up to the present day. The first thing you come to is a brilliant interactive display that tells the story of six leaders of the cycle industry – including William Hillman. There was an extensive collection of bikes and velocipedes to look at, as well as other displays about cycling fashions.

We then move into the beginnings of the motor industry where I began to recognise more and more brand names, like Singer. The little racing game was rather fun, and there were some very interesting quizzes which really helped you to put into perspective how much these cars cost in practical terms.

The number of cars on display was just phenomenal and it was amazing to see how designs and styles changed. There were lots of activities to complete as we went along, which was brilliant – my favourite was the ‘Friend or Foe?’ game (I got 8 out of 10). What I really would have liked was some replica car parts to touch. I was very pleased to see that the Blitz experience was still in place – I guess it was too good to take away!

It was very exciting to spot cars that I recognised from Rootes press cuttings. The most significant one that I remember was Humber’s Victory car, which went on tour to as far away as Australia! There were a couple of stops where you could listen to evidence surrounding an important decision made in Coventry’s history and then you could make up your own minds which I found to be very thought provoking. Obviously, hindsight is a wonderful thing and having lived in the area for so long I was quite biased away from the decisions that were made at the time.

Then it was time to see the mid-20th Century cars, many of which were recognisable Rootes cars so I got (possibly unreasonably) excited. There were also detailed explanations about the decline of Britain’s motor industry, and the impact that had on Coventry – the effects of which are still being felt today. The final area that we had time to check out was home to larger vehicles, including the Sky Blue bus from 1987 (which I last saw in storage off-site a few years back) and a number of fire engines, including a Karrier (a Rootes brand).

The Transport Museum is a very interesting place and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about cars or Coventry, you’ll find something intriguing and come away with some new knowledge. It’s very suitable for all ages, and to be honest the only suggestion I can think of is that they create some replica car parts as a lot of the vehicles on display are too delicate to touch. I’ll definitely be going back! 5 stars – ★★★★★

That’s all from me this week I’m afraid. I’m not going to be able to write a blog next week, but I’ll leave you with the blog that I wrote for the Herbert for National Volunteers Week!


Interesting Links
Coventry History Centre
Coventry Transport Museum
TripAdvisor Review

See more of Rachel’s Transport Museum pictures on Facebook!