Museum in boost thanks to support

Boost: Tom Snape and Paulette Abrahams aboard the LC3 Fire Engine
Boost: Tom Snape and Paulette Abrahams aboard the LC3 Fire Engine

Bosses behind a Leyland attraction say visitor numbers are up thanks an impassioned plea for support from the community.

The British Commercial Vehicle Museum on King Street houses more than 60 historic vehicles, but fears were raised the museum could close if more people did not come through the doors.

It suffered a disappointing summer season where visitor numbers were 15 per cent down on the year before.

But after a Guardian appeal for more support from local people and major work carried out to repair a buckling wall, bosses at the museum say they are now getting back on track.

Stephen Bullock, who is one of 56 trustees at the museum, said: “We had a decent August and seemed to get quite a response from the community.

“The future for the museum is getting more people through the door and we have just drawn up a business plan for the next three years.”

Stephen says he and other volunteers are now looking at new ways to expand the business and draw in even more people, including opening up its extensive archive of over 250,000 images and hosting more events such as one next month with Leyland Ghostseekers, who claim it is one of the most haunted buildings in the country.

He said: “To survive we have to do more than just display vehicles in that building. We need to get out there.

“We have got a tremendous archive of old pictures and paintings which is a big asset. I am sure if this stuff was in London then the government would make sure it was well cared for. But we have all of this in little Leyland. We just need to keep it here.

“We have got some new ideas that are coming out and we are in talks about doing something for Christmas, which will be the first time we have opened for Christmas for quite some time.”

The biggest cost for the museum is maintaining the 1930s building, which is roughly three quarters the size of a football pitch.

It costs £10,000 a month to keep it going and at the last count, the museum was suffering from 25 holes in the roof and needed to raise £250,000 to replace it, and almost £40,000 just to carry out repairs.

Work has also just been carried out on stabilising a wall that was twisting and was likely to collapse.

Stephen said: “The big issue for us is the building because it is such a huge cost.

“We have done some work on the wall and hopefully we will be getting some work done on the roof. We are desperately looking around for funding, and also for more volunteers to help out.”

The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays throughout September and October and this weekend hosted the Autumn Transport Festival.