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New Gallery Opens its Doors Onto 1900s Industrial Coventry

08 December 2014

Take a stroll through the new gallery at the Coventry Transport Museum and you’ll find yourself being transported back into a 1900s car show room, complete with beautiful hand-painted art deco murals and showcasing a range of fantastic early 20th  century vehicles. This is the first of 12 newly refurbished galleries to open its doors to the public as part of the Museum’s exciting £8.5 million redevelopment project.

The new gallery is entitled ‘A New Motor Industry 1900-1914’ and tells the story of how the city’s motor industry grew before the outbreak the First World War. By the year 1913 the City had risen to prominence as the centre for cycle and automotive manufacture, playing host to 20 car manufacturers with household names including Daimler, Humber and Triumph, it made up a quarter of Britain’s car manufacturing industry.

The gallery features many wonderful cars and bicycles which were manufactured here in Coventry, including a spectacular 1900s Singer Victoria 6 seater bicycle which was first made for the Army to use. When new, it had an incredible 14 seats!

Another of the gallery’s star vehicles is a rather splendid 1904 Riley Tricar. Riley was one of Britain’s earliest motor manufacturers, with a factory based in Foleshill here in Coventry. This 1904 Riley Tricar is a marvellous example of the company’s earliest products, the car features steerable front wheels and flanking forward seats for two people with a handlebar steering for the driver.

Visitors to the gallery will also get the chance to play the ‘Trip to London’,  a new fun interactive which invites visitors to choose the mode of transport they think will get to London from Coventry the fastest, which is quite tricky considering the speed limit during the early 1900s was a mere 15mph.

‘A New Motor Industry 1900-1914’ showcases the importance of some of the City’s hard-working manufacturing individuals. People such as William Riley and George Singer, along with the many thousands of factory workers employed by them helped Coventry to develop into a city of enterprise, full of strength and endeavour;  traits which would become essential as the First World War was just around the corner.

This new gallery is the first of 12 that are due to open at the Transport Museum between now and June 2015. It’s part of our exciting £8.5m redevelopment project which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, as well as the Biffa Award and Garfield Weston Foundation. The project also includes the redevelopment of our neighbouring Grade 1 listed, 12th Century Old Grammar School, which will be brought back into public use as an exhibition, education and events space.

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