Neil Turner's Blog

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Transperience, Bradford’s forgotten transport museum

Photo of the auditorium at Transperience

Image Copyright Humphrey Bolton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

At the weekend I wrote a new Wikipedia article about Transperience.

The Transperience Museum

Transperience was a museum that I was aware of when I was younger, and I remember seeing leaflets about it. But neither I, nor my parents, had never had the chance to visit it during the short time that it was open.

It was essentially an open-air museum of passenger transport. There were some transport simulators, as well as a working one kilometre tram line and a couple of trolleybuses. In addition, there was an auditorium and some workshops were its preserved vehicles were maintained.

The museum was built on the site of Low Moor station, south of Bradford. The station used to be at the junction of the Caldervale Line, between Bradford and Manchester, with the Spen Valley Line which ran through Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike and Liversedge. The station, and the whole Spen Valley Line, were closed in the 1960s, but the Caldervale Line thankfully remains. Otherwise, my regular trips to Blackpool would be far more difficult.

Closure

Despite being right next to junction 2 of the M606 and easy reach of the M62, and costing £11.5 million to build, the park closed in 1997. It had only been open for a little over 2 years. Unfortunately, it couldn’t attract enough visitors to be viable, and was £1 million in the red by the time it was taken over by administrators. The land was mostly sold off to a private developer and is now an industrial estate. The route of the tram line now forms the first part of the Spen Valley Greenway, a footpath and cycle route which follows the route of the Spen Valley Line. Some buildings, like the auditorium remain, but overgrown and derelict.

Interestingly, the site is likely to go full circle. Metro, the public body which manages passenger transport in West Yorkshire, has plans to re-open Low Moor station. Its location close to the M606 means it would make a good parkway station. Plus, it will allow residents of Low Moor and towns in the Spen Valley to catch the train without having to travel into central Bradford or Leeds. It’s likely that the few remaining relics of Transperience will be tarmacked over by the new station’s car park. The station is proposed for 2012, subject to planning permission and funding.

It’s a shame that I never had chance to visit Transperience, as it seemed like an interesting museum that suffered from poor marketing and a lack of focus. Thankfully, museums such as the Crich Tramway Village have succeeded where Transperience failed.

Update (Dec 2016): Work on the new Low Moor railway station is underway, with a likely opening date in 2017. Most of the Transperience infrastructure that remained by 2010 is still there, albeit still abandoned.

2 Comments

  1. If you ever go to Crich – you might see my Dad conducting on the Trams. I’ve never been there myself though.

  2. I’d never even heard of Transperience before reading about it in a book about the calder valley line. Now I’ve managed to join the dots and made the connection with that odd auditorium building I see from the train window.
    It does sound an interesting place, and shame I had never visited. Google streetview makes the whole park site very interesting indeed!