Birmingham’s popular transport museum will close for possibly the final time at the end of this month.
On Sunday visitors will have their last chance to ride on the Aston Manor Transport Museum’s historic buses as it hosts its final open day.
The volunteer-run museum, which attracts 10,000 visitors a year, is being forced out of its historic tram depot in Witton Lane where it has been staying rent-free since 1991, in return for keeping the building in good condition.
Museum chairman Geoff Lusher said: “This Sunday is our last big open day. It is the last day we will have the buses running for free trips all day. The cafe will be open and we will start clearing the shop. We will finally close at the end of the month and begin moving the exhibits into storage.
“Various people pledged help and we raised a lot of money, but it was not enough to meet the council’s valuation.
“It shows the council is putting money before heritage, a visitor attraction and keeping a facility for the community,” he claimed.
He added that he is not sure what the council plans to do with the 130-year-old tram shed as there is little use for it other than as a museum.
Storage places are now being found for the collection of 30 trams, buses, fire engines and lorries and the museum committee have agreed to continue to search for a new site for the time being.
They admit that a warehouse is unlikely to have the same appeal as a former tram depot. Last year the council decided that the Museum should pay a £43,000 a year commercial rent, or buy the building outright.
However, the museum was unable to afford the rent or a lease deal offered by the council.
A fund raising campaign saw visitors pledge £110,000 and the museum hoped to raise more from trusts. It was confident of offering £350,000 for the building.
But the council is confident it can raise £900,000 for the shed on the open market and it could eventually be sold as an Asian banquet centre or even to provide extra match day parking for Villa Park.
Aston Manor Transport Museum holds its final open day between 11am and 5pm on October 16. It closes for good on October 30.