The Isle of Wight Bus Museum has until the end of next year to find a new home. Picture © Dave Moore
It’s a museum whose members cheerfully admit requiring “urgent psychiatric treatment” on the homepage of its official website, but the popular Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum is facing a more genuine crisis after being told its Newport Quay home will be demolished at the end of next year.
Running out of time after a series of failed previous moves, the transport buffs have launched an ambitious plan to buy a two-and-a-half-acre plot of farmland adjoining the west end of the region’s Havenstreet Railway, aiming to expand their remit at a purpose-built site covering twice the floor area their current base offers.
“The scheme for our relocation to Havenstreet was very well received by our members,” confides admirably optimistic Company Secretary Dave Moore. “I don't have the exact figures but when we canvassed opinion, the vast majority backed it.”
Negotiations with landowners and attempts to overcome legal hurdles are ongoing. “Once that's out of the way the hard graft really starts,” says Moore, who is one of several enthusiastic volunteers who have looked after the display of vintage buses and coaches since establishing the institution in 1997.
“The museum committee is confident that the scheme will work, but we do realise that it won’t be easy. The word from The Island is frustration. We know Rome wasn't built in a day, but we'd hoped things would move faster than they are."
Aside from the small matter of raising an estimated £120,000, the team face a battle for planning consent over a field which is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but they reckon Council bosses and representatives from the Isle of Wight Steam Railway are behind them. Supporters are also being invited to purchase £250 shares in the project, with monies being returned if the plan fails.
“Our lease on Newport Quay is running out but the only other option is to give up and go home,” accepts Moore. “We have to make it work.”