I quite like buses, as a mode of transport. I'm not someone who spots buses for fun, and I might not have thought of going to the museum were it not for our toddler who is completely besotted with all things with wheels. (Though to be honest so is his Dad.) I am happy to report that it is an excellent place, and even if you don't think you're very interested in buses, as you progress through the ages sooner or later you come face to face with the era of bus you went to school in every day, and then you become strangely nostalgic!
There are several hangars, some that you survey from outside, with the working buses in, and with the Morris Museum upstairs. Then there's one very large building which houses the exhibits and activities. Here you can climb into some of the buses, up and down the steep stairs. (This is the part where you get nostalgic over any graffiti or old chewing gum reminiscences.) And then there's the workshop with the active restoration going on, where you can head upstairs to a viewing gallery. Aside from the viewing gallery and Morris sections it is all wheelchair and pushchair friendly.
Although the buses do gleam beautifully in the sunshine, it's worth noting this is an extremely good wet weather venue. The activity corner for kids is carefully put together, with a variety of transport-related puzzles, games and toys, a section of Brio track, and a set of Mr Potato Head people. There are books and some squeaky steering wheel sets too. And there is one bus where you're allowed in the driver's seat to rummage the gearstick and yank the wheel.
In terms of bus history it covers all eras, with a beautifully dilapidated wooden-sided vehicle, from the first buses that weren't horse-powered, a display about trams, and then every sort of bus since. They gleam with love and care. My husband's favourite was a Leyland Leopard from the 1980s. There are a couple of cutaway engines which run, so you can see the pistons and valves closing, and one whole cutaway bus so you can see the workings and how it is put together. There's also some odd bits of memorabilia like a display of Oxford Bus Company uniform and ties. Tucked away in one corner is a very old fire engine. I did get the impression that they get offered a lot of vehicles and never like to say no!
The Morris Museum hosts cars including of course a Mini, plus a variety of older models. There's the most beautiful model car for children, and another fire engine. There's also some vividly patterned carpet, designed for the dining room at Longwall garage, and some very early bicycles. By this stage my little one was getting fractious, and found the children's vehicles very tantalising. We will have to go back another time, and I suspect we may become members and take advantage of unlimited visits throughout the year.
We went on a Saturday, so there weren't any rides - these happen alternate Sundays in the summer, with all details on the website. But there was still plenty to see and do. The cafe is friendly and inexpensive, with pasties, bacon sandwiches, crisps, ice-creams and so on. The shop has a large selection of models and toys (don't confuse the two as there's quite a price difference) and books for all ages.
Altogether this museum seemed to be very well run, with knowledgeable and welcoming staff who are good with all ages, and the whole place has a very cared-for feel. It's also right next to Long Hanborough railway station which means not only that you can get there without a car, but that trains pass regularly and can also be admired by transport-lovers!