For more than 15 years, the T&A charted the rise and fall of the Transperience Discovery Park at Low Moor. It was a transport museum housing historic buses and trams which at the time of its conception was going to be “Britain’s most ambitious and imaginative transport theme museum”.

Creating it cost £11.5 million. The 16-acre site opened in a blaze of publicity in July 1995. Two years later it was closed. On June 25, 1998, the site was sold to Ogden Properties Ltd of Boston Spa for £1 million. Most of it has gone, demolished and replaced by a business park.

Supporters of the transport theme park – it was their dream park – perhaps hoped that it would be Bradford’s equivalent of the National Railway Museum at York or the National Tramway Museum at Matlock in Derbyshire.

Interestingly, when Transperience was in trouble in 1997 and the talk was of a relaunch, a spokesman at the Matlock museum told the T&A: “Transperience needs to look carefully at itself. If they bungle the reopening, they could be in dire straits very soon.”

Looking back, the grandiose scheme was flawed from the start. Owen Claxton, recovery and insolvency department manager of Coopers & Lybrand, highlighted the principal points of failure.

“It hasn’t attracted the visiting public. It had no unique selling point to draw the crowds and only those with a particular interest in buses or trams would visit the museum.

“It was only ever going to make money from having a large visiting public and with a number of attractions in the area, particularly for children, such as Eureka! and the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (now the National Media Museum). It wasn’t able to compete.”

Originally envisaged by West Yorkshire County Council as a 27-acre transport museum linked to an electrified Spen Valley tramway, it would transform the local economy by attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The scheme replaced the bus museum that existed in Bradford from 1982. This was the old West Yorkshire County Council bus depot at Ludham Street, off Manchester Road, which became surplus to requirements when the Interchange opened in 1977.

Transport expert Alan Whitaker knew the place well. He said: “As an old bus depot, Ludlam Street was steeped in history and had a real tangible feel to it. It was a wonderful location for such an attraction. By contrast, the brand new Low Moor place seemed antiseptic and completely lack atmosphere.

“Ludlam Street felt more like a museum than a modern transport history centre with interactive elements. In fact I think it was that element which secured the necessary funding. I doubt that anyone would have coughed up millions to establish a traditional transport museum.”

The first setback came in 1986 when the Wakefield-based county council was abolished by the Conservative Government. The authority’s parting gift was £1 million in trust to help get the scheme started. Bradford Council was not keen on it, but its supporters were and they were aided by the newly-elected Labour MP for Bradford South, Bob Cryer.

In 1988, Mike Haynes, a former economist, town planner, archaeologist and heritage project leader, was appointed chief executive of the scheme, charged with making it happen and securing the £15 million to pay for it.

Two-thirds of the money, the T&A reported, would have to come from the private sector. In the end more than £8 million came from the Department of Environment. Other funds came from the European Community.

Mr Haynes said: “More than nine million people live within 90 minutes’ drive of Low Moor and, together with tourists and holidaymakers, they make up a huge pool of potential visitors.

“Bradford’s existing attractions already bring in more than 1.5 million visitors a year, and we see our proposed new centre as complementary to, and not in competition with, other attractions.”

In reality, a 90-minute drive to Low Moor is a three-hour round trip. Far fewer than the projected 200,000 visitors turned up in the first year, which in turn led to a crisis in the second year and closure in the third.

Transperience’s marketing manager Jayne Tyrrell had no doubts why the scheme flopped. She told the T&A: “I was brought in six months before it opened – which is far too late anyway – and I expected a budget of £1 million to do a job of this size. I got about £150,000, which is a drop in the ocean.

“They had spent all the money making it wonderful but they didn’t have enough to market it – it was all done on a shoestring.”

After the sale of the site in June 1998, the valuable collection of buses eventually went to Keighley Bus Museum, helped by a grant of £26,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.