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Thursday, 8 May 2014

Our Pick: Dover Transport Museum

With an afternoon free we took a trip to the Dover Transport Museum for a mooch around one Sunday afternoon. Having never been here before, we had no idea what to expect. Located in an old army barracks in Whitfield 3 miles from Dover, we followed the road signs arriving in the car park near a huge train. Greeted by some lovely ladies and gents sat out on the grass in the sun, we headed in. Paying our entrance fee of £5 which lasts all year, the friendly chap on the till explained about the layout of the museum and forthcoming events. Intrigued, we climbed the steps.


What we walked into was truly brilliant. The first exhibition hall is the old army gymnasium with vintage vehicles from many eras displayed. Around the walls are old shop fronts, some of which you can go in and explore. 


This sweet little bike shop had all manner of cycle related articles on display, along with many vintage and retro bikes. One bike was the same model as I had when a nipper, that made me feel old!


The Dover Transport Museum is a charity and the museum is run solely by a group of very friendly and enthusiastic volunteers who know their stuff. As we wandered around a few volunteers talked us through the displays. This car for instance, a Humber, was one of my favourites. A fast car for its day reaching a top speed of 79 mph, was marketed at upper-middle-class managers, professionals and government officials. When WW2 broke out the car continued in production as a British military staff car. 


 One of the volunteers, Ted, let us sit in it. It was like reclining on an extremely comfy sofa, what luxury these old cars must have been for the passengers.


The attention to detail is brilliant and it has obviously taken a lot of hard work to get the museum to where it is today. Look out for the few stuffed pheasants about!


He loved looking at all the vintage vehicles and asking all manner of questions, whilst I loved the shops. This was one of my favourites, J. Pursey Motorcycles, inside being full of motorbike related bits and pieces.


A row of vintage bikes were on display inside the shop. This lovely old Norman caught our eye as Ollie's Great Gran used to work in the factory during its hey day painting the Norman logo on the motorbike fuel tanks. The Norman company was based in Ashford, Kent by two brothers Charles and Fred Norman set up shortly after WW1. They started making frames but by 1938 began producing autocycles and later motorcycles. Weekly production was said to peak at 5000 bikes, 600 mopeds and 120 motorbikes.


From the first hall you can walk through into some smaller rooms housing displays on various boats and engines on your left. To the right is a huge train set laid out behind glass. A row of buttons to push sets the trains off on their journey and we spent a while studying the detail of workmanship which has gone into this.


Continuing our little walk from the first hall eventually brings you into the second exhibition hall which was the old army swimming pool. A fully restored gypsy caravan sits in the middle enclosed by vintage cars and vans. The surrounding walls have also been transformed into vintage shops fronts, with my absolute favourite being Olivers!


Being bikers ourselves we particularly loved all the motorbike shops with the wide range of vintage motorbikes, this kids BSA scrambler a favourite. The museum holds many events throughout the year with a classic motorbike day being held on Sunday 11th May which we may go to. Unfortunately we missed the 1940's themed weekend held at the end of April but it's in the diary for next year.


A thoroughly enjoyable hour and a half was spent mooching around admiring the old cars, motorbikes, steam roller, gypsy caravan, shepherds hut and fire engine whilst talking with the volunteers. Before heading off we stopped off in the cafe for some refreshments, a review of which will be coming soon!

Deets:
Willingdon Road
Dover
Whitfield
Kent
CT16 2HQ

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