20-tonne coach becomes first object at the new £72 million Museum of Liverpool

By Ben Miller Published: 28 July 2010

A photo of an enormous coach being towed through a city

A 20-tonne 19th century motor coach which served the world’s first elevated electric railway line on the docks of the River Mersey has become the first exhibit to enter the new £72 million Museum of Liverpool.

Deployed on the Liverpool Overhead Railway, a congestion-easing path along the docks opened in 1893, Carriage No 3 passed along the same 7.5-mile route it originally used before entering the largest newly-built museum built in Britain for more than a century.

A photo of an enormous coach being towed through a city

The coach will be a star exhibit at the new museum

It is expected to be joined by more than 6,000 objects when the site officially opens in 2011.

"A lot of planning has gone into the display of the motor coach due to its sheer size, weight and rarity," said executive director Sharon Granville, calling the move "a momentous occasion" for the project.

"The building has been designed to house this object and we have purposely left a large gap in the gallery wall in order to move the carriage in. It will then be lifted using hydraulics into an elevated position at the height it would have travelled."

The carriage spent decades in the Transport Gallery at the old Liverpool Museum – now known as the World Museum – after being given to National Museums Liverpool when the Overhead Railway ceased operations in 1956.

A photo of an enormous coach being towed through a city

Carriage No 3 took the same route it used to make at the end of the 19th century

Part of four themed galleries exploring Liverpool as a port, creativity hub, social epicenter and globally important city, it will be displayed within a reconstruction of Pier Head station alongside archive film footage from the Railway.

The museum has faced mixed fortunes on its path to completion. The North-West Development Agency granted £33 million to the scheme in 2005, but the project is currently running two years behind schedule, and in February organisers were fined £750,000 for breaching a land covenant by blocking the view from nearby waterfront buildings.

"The new museum of Liverpool is architecturally striking and will be one of the region's flagship cultural attractions," said Councillor Flo Clucas, of the Northwest European Regional Development Fund Programme Monitoring Committee.

"The museum will deliver a world-class visitor experience that will set it apart from our competitors."

A photo of an enormous coach being towed through a city

The new museum
is expected to be "world-class"

National Museums Liverpool Director David Fleming said the site would provide 8,000 square metres of public space.

"The museum already looks spectacular from the outside," he announced.

"Now we are planning to make the inside breathtaking too. In each of the four massive galleries visitors will be able explore and immerse themselves in every aspect of Liverpool life.

"We want to attract more than 750,000 visitors a year and give the city a museum to be proud of."

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