Transport through time

Investigate different modes of transport and how people travelled in the past through exploration of some of the Museum of Liverpool's land transport collection, including the Overhead Railway and costumes of the time.

This session can be booked Monday to Friday at 10.15am, 11.30am and 1.15pm.

Workshop details

This session begins with considering how the group travelled to the Museum and to school. Key objects which utilise wind, horse, steam, pedal, electricity and fuel engine power in The Great Port gallery are explored. Objects explored include a model of a medieval ship, a carriage from the Earl of Derby's stables, the Lion locomotive, one of the worlds oldest surviving steam trains, a 1900 car and the 19th century bone shaker bicycle. Contrasting comparative speeds of travel, potential distances covered and comfort levels are explored. 

The Liverpool Overhead Railway, which opened in 1893, is investigated. The Overhead Railway was the first elevated electric line in the world and ran the length of the Liverpool docks. Groups climb aboard the last surviving original motor coach, which has electric motors mounted beneath the floor, a driving cab at one end and third class accommodation with wooden seats. Pupils are given costumes and tickets of the time and role play travelling on the Overhead Railway. The group investigate the gallery before we review all the forms of transport and power investigated in the session.

Learning outcomes

Attitudes and values

  • Many different people travel on many different forms of transport for many different reasons.
  • Recognise that different types of transport were around and in use at different times.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand that Liverpool was and still is an important place for trade and connections with the world.
  • Understand the importance of the River Mersey for the development of Liverpool as a port city.
  • Liverpool was an important place for new and exciting forms of transport such as Lion and Liverpool Overhead Railway.
  • Understand the reasons why Liverpool became a successful port, which subsequently declined and is currently regenerating. (The Great Port).

Skills development

  • Begin to critically question the impact technological advances have had on our lives. (The Great Port).


Curriculum links


Pupils will

  • develop an awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time.
  • know where the events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods.
  • use a wide vocabulary of everyday historical terms.
  • ask and answer questions
  • understand some of the ways in which we find out about the past and identify different ways in which it is represented.

Pupils will be taught about

  • changes within living memory.
  • events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally – the development of transport and its impact on people’s lives.
  • significant historical events, people and places in their own locality – for example, the development of Liverpool’s docks and  railways.

Spoken language

Pupils will

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  • use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
  • articulate and justify answers and opinions
  • give descriptions and explanations for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
  • maintain attention and participate actively in conversations, staying on topic, initiating and responding to comments
  • use spoken language to develop understanding through questioning, imagining and exploring ideas
  • participate in discussions
  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.

Fundamental British Values


  • Children participate in discussions and know that their views are heard.
  • Children understand that they need to take turns and co-operate.

Individual liberty

  • Children are encouraged to voice their opinions appropriately and listen to others.
  • Children develop confidence and self-esteem in expressing their views.

Rule of law

  • Children learn that transport laws and customs change over time with the intention of keeping us safe.
  • Children learn to follow Museum rules and manage their behaviour in a public gallery for their own safety and that of other visitors.

Tolerance and mutual respect

  • Children develop empathy through role play and stories.
  • Children are encouraged to respect the feelings and opinions of others – for example describing the feelings of passengers on the railways.