The Public Transport Museum of the Region of Liege opened in 1985, the public transport year! This was indeed the 100th anniversary of the SNCV (Belgian National Company for local transport), the 150th anniversary of the Belgian National Railways and the 50th anniversary of the SNCB’s (Belgian National Railways) electrical traction motor.
The Department for Transport, the urban transport companies, the SNCV wish to put their heritage forward.
This is perfect timing for transport enthusiasts whom for many years have been planning on opening a transport museum in Liege. Since the 1960’s, some had indeed been requesting public and private transport companies executives to preserve obsolete rolling stock. At the time, those companies only considered its scrap value.
“Enlightened” amateur organizations then get together to save this industrial heritage, often built in Belgium and a true testimony of a high quality technical know-how.
On 25 April 1985, cabinet minister De Croo inaugurates the museum. The Public Transport Museum of the Region of Liege non-profitmaking organization is founded. It comprises of the STIL (Liege District Intercity Transport Company), the SNCV, the Department of Transport through the PTU (Promotion of Urban Transports), the Museum of Walloon Life, the GTF (Belgian organization for the promotion and operation of railway tourism) and the AMUTRA (Tram Museum Association). At the time, twelve vehicles are presented restored thanks to the financing of the PTU.
The museum is set in a former STIL tram depot which had become unoccupied after the restructuration of its Liege facilities.
It is initially open from April to October but only on week-ends and bank holidays. Some enthusiasts take turns on duty service. Management is taken care of by members of the STIL public relation service who also escort guided tours, on request.
In 1991, due to regionalization of the sector, the Liege and Verviers transport companies merge together and the SNCV is dissolved. Thereby is created the TEC Liege-Verviers, part the TEC group which covers the whole of the Walloon Area.
Two years later, the TEC Liege-Verviers operating company, in need of cash assets, wants to sell its unoccupied depots as well as the museum. Fortunately for the museum, the Walloon Local Authority purchases the premises.
The museum is strengthened by these changes, its growing recognition, local investments and the hiring of two members of staff. Also, a securing long-term lease allows the museum to lead a true museal policy and to look for new partnerships.
Quickly, its activities expand: guided tours, organized activities, scenic tours onboard vintage buses. At the same time, the museum diversifies in renting out its premises (cafeteria, auditorium) and vintage buses for events.