Áine Belton visits the Dover Transport Museum

Posted on August 21, 2014
Dover Transport Museum sign
Dover Transport Museum sign

 

I visited my partners at The Dover Transport Museum in July and had a fruitful tour around their inspiring collection of vehicles, objects and shop fronts.
As i’m not originally from the UK it was a totally new learning experience for me to see Kent from decades back. The nostalgic shop stalls in the main vehicle exhibition hall are so lovingly cared for, they’re rich with colour and when you look closer little items call out for your attention. I easily could have spent an afternoon looking through the shopfront windows absorbing the designs of past objects. The second vehicle exhibition has a marvellous collection of cameras, radios and tools! There’s maritime works, model trains and walls of days past filling the corridors also as you navigate the building.

Brian and Andrew brought me to the library for a chat and introduction to the museum. The library contains hundreds of books and articles engaging with the collection (some items in the Transport Museum are actually loaned items too). They keep a detailed archive of all items that they display and have a very supportive group of volunteers that maintain this. The 1/4 scale replica of the Blériot XI monoplane was perched on the large desk we were chatting around. I’d never heard of this aircraft before – it’s the aircraft that was used by Louis Blériot on 25 July 1909 to make the first flight across the English Channel made in a heavier-than-air aircraft. This achievement is one of the most famous accomplishments of the pioneer era of aviation and the 1/4 model is here to see! It’s already been at a few events that the museum has organised.

 

The Bleriot XI monoplane
The Bleriot XI monoplane

 

The 1914 Piece Arrow Lorry fills the main vehicle exhibition hall, you can’t miss the rich greens and reds! It’s got a large frame – excuse my camera work, I couldn’t capture the whole vehicle on my camera phone. It’s larger than expected and apparently needs a few people to get it started to make tracks on the road. Throughout World War I, the Pierce-Arrow commercial line was busy turning out two and five-ton trucks. These trucks were ordered by the hundreds by both the French and English governments. Truck production exceeded passenger car production may times over. There’s a great photo of this actual model in the museum’s library lined up with many other vehicles back 70 years ago at least – you can recognise it by the license plates!

 

Dover Transport Museum 1914 Pierce Arrow
Dover Transport Museum 1914 Pierce Arrow

 

My next interest is the WW1 Royal Sunbeam bicycle which I am most keen to see. One of the volunteers has been working on it but it wasn’t available on the day I visited. Being an avid cyclist I’m really looking forward to seeing this bicycle. I’ve been looking up articles from The BSA and Military Bicycle Museum to get a picture in my head of what to expect. I’ve no idea about the condition that it’s in and how much of the original structure has survived. Here’s a few images and articles I found with my research. I like and relate to the still common problem of today and 100 years ago – ventilation when cycling with rain gear! Reading about the difference in bicycles over the past few decades has really made me rethink what I have taken for advantage of. Earlier today I was getting an estimate on my 1978 Raleigh Estelle to make it a smoother ride – improving the derailleur, gears, and suspension… Reading over these articles again I’m daydreaming about the reversal of improving my bicycle – what would it be like to strip my own bicycle of the modern features/enhancements and have it reduced to an even simpler model? I’m going to chat with friends at The Burgate Bicycle Company! And most likely get some odd looks back from them!

Until the next visit,

Aine Belton

Excerpt found on the BSA Museum webpage (1)
Excerpt found on the BSA Museum webpage (1)
Excerpt found on the BSA Museum webpage (2)
Excerpt found on the BSA Museum webpage (2)
A 1915 model of the Sunbeam
A 1915 model of the Sunbeam