Having lived in Oxfordshire for at least half of my life (and in Oxford itself for 3.5 years), I’m always surprised when I hear about places to visit that I’ve not come across before. The Oxford Bus Museum was one such place.
A friend mentioned she’d driven past it and then someone had mentioned they’d had a visit there so we decided to visit one Sunday.
Along with N we had my friend’s nearly 2 year old little girl, so she had free entry. The entry was pretty cheap anyway and as we arrived, it does make you feel like a bit of a relaxed, informal museum. It doesn’t look like much (alongside the railway at Long Hanborough, meaning you can let the children sit and watch the trains as well). But it has everything you need.
All the volunteers were helpful and friendly if you wanted some advice, although the signs said they were understaffed, and after more volunteers to be able to in the café, and other areas of the museum.
We rarely go on buses – only on park and rides in Oxford, so N was really excited to see the old buses and couldn’t wait until later when everyone could go out on a vintage bus ride.
On entering the museum, we were surprised to see a wreck of a bus. It set the scene for the children to keep a watch out for quirky things…although I’m still not sure what the random soft toy animals were there for.
You can pay 50p to get a children’s activity trail sheet but we didn’t bother. There are also areas to watch out for, where there are fun questions to answer.
The first room is all about vintage buses, with a variety of bus sizes and ages.
The museum displays are never ending on the walls, although I have to admit that we didn’t really look at the photographs and displays – for the kids it was all about the buses themselves.
The second room is about more modern buses and coaches. N loved getting to play at driving one of them.
But he also enjoyed getting on and off different coaches. Some harking back to my school days – classic 1980s coach!
And the double deckers. It was interesting to see one opened up so you could see inside.
The museum caters for children really well. There’s one play bus that they can ‘drive’, there’s a colouring and activity corner, a seating part with blocks and various toys for if they need a break from buses.
As well as the buses, the Morris Motors museum is on the same site. This area has a collection of old bikes upstairs while there’s various cars (and a tractor that N immediately spotted) downstairs.
It’s funny, because apart from tractors (and then riding his bikes), N isn’t that interested about cars or any other road vehicles normally. But put him in this type of museum and he really likes it and makes the most of it.
Unless you’re really into buses and read everything, it took around 1.5-2 hours to go round. We had 30 minutes to wait before the bus trip – it’s included in the trip, although you do get given tickets from the man with the ticket machine which N loved to watch. So we nipped in for drink and a snack at the café.
If you’re after lots of hot food options, you’re not going to get that. What you get is like a bus company canteen. But it does the job, and means it’s peanuts cost wise. The cakes are shop bought (50p each), drinks similarly cheap, with basic tables and chairs.
Then it was time for the bus ride. The museum hadn’t looked very busy, but the double decker bus was full. The round trip was around 30 minutes long, with a brief stop in the middle in a greener area so people could have their photo taken with the bus if they wanted.
Needless to say N love it. I think he’s already planning when he can go back again to have another ride.
We had a lovely time at the Oxford Bus Museum. It was perfect to fill a couple of hours, and both children enjoyed it too. One of those hidden gems, that you wonder why you didn’t discover it years ago.