Ulster folk and transport museum: The Transport Museum
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum information
The Ulster Transport Museum is a sister to the Ulster Folk Museum. The two are not related in terms of subject matter but rather administratively; the two together make up the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. You can buy one ticket for both museums, or two individual tickets one for each.
The Transport Museum is located on the north side of the main A2 road (the Folk Museum is on the south side) and contains an extraordinary collection of old cars, buses, trains and even airplanes. It is actually one of the largest of its kind in Europe and is definitely worth a visit.
Our visit to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum
We visited the Transport Museum straight after the Folk on a very cold March Sunday. Having spent two hours in the mostly open air Folk museum we were indeed glad to be indoors enjoying some warmth and cover from the elements.
Trains, trains, trains
The first and possibly most fascinating part is the railway collection. The first rail connection on the island became operative in December 1834 between Dublin and Dun Laoghaire. By 1930 it was estimated that no part of Northern Ireland was further than 10 miles from a railway line. Such expansion of rail communication helped the flow of imports and exports and brought Northern Ireland closer to world markets.
The largest locomotive on display is the Maeve, one of a class of three. It is not only the largest in the museum, but the largest locomotive operated on the island. One of the smallest is a two man track inspection vehicle that was used on a daily basis to inspect the condition of the tracks.
You will find section fascinating and if you have children they will absolutely love the opportunity to climb onto the old but wonderfully restored locomotives.
A Loco-Snack at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum
We had a cup of tea and a bun in a very cute café in the middle of the train exhibition. The café looked like a train station but instead of train tickets was selling snacks and beverages. Very charming indeed!
Road Transport for Every Taste and Budget
The road transport covers wheeled vehicles ranging from bicycles to carriages to cars. Apart from the exhibits the museum has abundant information on how the introduction and use of such vehicles affected the social conditions in Northern Ireland. Perhaps pride of place belongs to the De Lorean DMC-12 sports car famous as the time machine car in the series Back to the Future. Designed by the famous Italian designer Giorgetto Giougiaro the 2000 or so production models were built in Northern Ireland in 1981-82 mostly for the American market.
If you ask my husband, however, the most important exhibit is a beautifully restored red Hillman Imp. Why would a Hillman Imp hold such prominence? Because back in 1968 when my husband was born, my father-in-law bought the estate version of this sporty little car known as the Hillman Husky, and kept it in excellent running condition for the next 33 years!
The General Transport Galleries
The third section of the museum contains other forms of transport used through the ages. We especially enjoyed the rich collection of carriages of which I liked most the openness and elegant simplicity of the Victoria carriage. Not to be missed are the exhibits of the history of the Titanic which was built in Belfast in 1912 by Harlald and Wolff heavy industries, and the section on the history of flight.
A Must See
The Transport Museum is definitely one of the best museums in Northern Ireland. It combines ample space with beautifully restored transport machines of all types and sizes well arranged and with plenty of information to substantiate the importance of each exhibit. Children will love it, while the fact that it is mostly in enclosed areas means you can enjoy a visit whatever the weather, even on a very cold March Sunday.