After we visited the Oxford Bus Museum in October half term, I knew I had to write about it. Having already visited more well known museums in the past, we were pleasantly surprised at how much there was, as well as the free vintage routemaster bus ride into the next village and back. Tyler said it was an ‘awesome day’ and it was really interesting to learn about how buses were introduced into Oxford by William Morris. Which was why there is also a Morris Museum here too with those famous cars, plus loads of Penny Farthings which were the first ever bicycles, you know those ones with the oversized front wheels. Lily particularly enjoyed listening to the commentary on the retro photos dotted throughout the museum.
The museum is based at Hanborough train station, which is the next stop after Oxford. We went by car as we were staying in the Cotswolds in nearby Chipping Norton. It was about 20 minutes away, and on arrival I drove through the station car park to the back and saw this huge shed with a cool mural. After parking up, we had to take a photo in front of it.
We went into a building on our left and paid admission in the little gift shop. Then we went into the cafe for some lunch. The Family Ticket blog described the cafe as being like a hospital cafe, and she wasn’t wrong. We did find that quite amusing, whilst having our cheese and pickle sandwiches. After a stop off at the loos, which are in between the cafe and the gift shop (I still find it so strange having a potty-trained Lily), we headed for the museum. The big shed to the right was the bus museum and the first thing we saw was this crazy bus in some sort of hurricane scene.
I told the kids not to rush through the museum and to stop and look at the pictures and read the signs. So we ended up learning about the history of transport in Oxford. The big bosses were totally against buses, which Oxford being posh and all that. So there was a lot of work and effort to get them into the city. Here’s a photo of Lily on one of the retro photos – there’s a voice with some commentary and she thought she was having a photo conversation each time.
The day before we came here, we had rode a local bus from Chipping Norton to Witney, and when we saw these vintage signs, we recognised some of the town and village names. Also, we just love vintage signs and maps.
There were a couple of buses we could actually go in to, and on to the top deck. We were loving the moquette, and padded leather too – posh Oxford bus!
There were vintage road signs and petrol pumps, as well as a wall of bus blind names. There’s something special about seeing rural names rather than more well known places. It’s very unique.
This bus shows what different materials are used to make up a bus.
As we reached the back of the museum, the kids found the play area. I’d say this was the most popular bit. The toys are vintage/retro… and a bit tired looking. My fingers were dying to sort it all out, everything was mixed up – the kids weren’t complaining though. But I’d say if you are having a clearout at home, you might want to donate some toys here – they need it!
Ernie the bus was a hit, with all the buttons to press, the signals tick-tocking, all the seats inside. It’s really cool. On the left of this bus was the drawing area and wooden train tracks, puzzles etc.
There’s lots more that I haven’t photographed, cabinets of model buses and more actual buses. We came out and went into another shed where you could go up and watch vehicles being worked on.
There are more buses outside, and then another shed which is the Morris Museum. It’s full of Morris cars and Penny Farthing bicycles.
I’m guessing these prices were expensive in the old days.
I wonder if Tyler will make a cabinet of his toy cars when he’s a grown up. His collection could house a museum!
We ended our visit with a ride on the routemaster bus which was due at 2.30pm. It’s best to get to the bus stand a bit early to get a seat – it is popular. Tyler and Ganesh saved us seats upstairs as I had to take Lily for an emergency loo break. And then we set off on a bumpy bus ride through Woodstock and back, it was about a 30 – 40 minute ride. Which is great there’s no extra to pay for this ride. And the fact that it’s all run by volunteers – nobody is making money here, it’s all for the love of buses. The bus was decorated for Halloween and the was a bus conductor that gave us souvenir tickets for his vintage ticket machine.
Back at the bus museum, the kids chose a toy bus and plane from the gift shop.
As Tyler said, the whole experience was lovely and we can totally recommend it. You could do it as a day trip but if you are coming from far, I would say it’s worth making it part of a Cotswolds or Oxford holiday. All in all, we were at the museum for about 2 – 3 hours. And we stopped off in Woodstock for a coffee afterwards.
If you are thinking of visiting, here’s what you need to know:
Open: Every Wednesday and Sunday 10.30am – 4.30pm (except between 19th – 31st December)
Also open on Saturdays in July and August, plus all Bank Holiday Mondays.
Free Vintage Bus Rides: Depart at 11.30am and 2.30pm
Adult – £5
Child (up to age 15) – £3
Under 5s – free
Family Ticket (2 adults + 2 children) – £13
Hanborough Rail Station Yard, Main Road, Long Hanborough, Oxfordshire OX29 8LA
Nearest Train Station: Hanborough
I hope you found that useful.