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News Update - January 2020

Items in this Update cover:
Full details are below or on our website. 
Dates for your Diaries

Feb 1st             Museum re-opens after winter closed period

Feb 1st -           6 mini Exhibitions on local people and mines
Apr 26th          

Feb 7th             Back in the Day 

Feb 15th           Children's Half Term activities
    - 23rd           Extended opening hours

Feb 18th           Science in Radstock talk
                        Bygone Days talk

Feb 20th           Children's Craft event

Feb 21st           Memory café

Details of all the events and exhibitions are here


Children's Half Term Activities
Once again we plan to open the Museum every day during half term from 11am to 5 pm, subject to being able to provide sufficient volunteers to fill all the positions.  See the website for details in due course.

During the half term week there will be a new astronomically themed trail for children in the Museum, which is free for paying visitors. 

The prizes for this trail have been sponsored by Thatcher + Hallam LLP, one of our Community partners.

Children's Craft Event

Thursday 20 February 10 am - 12 noon
As part of the Museum's half term activities we are having a Cosmic Craft event on Thursday 20 February between 10 am and noon.

Children's  admission charge (1 year and older) is £3, adults £1. BANES Discovery card holding adults free.

The Museum Shop and Tearoom will be open.

Current Exhibition

6 Mini Exhibitions on

Local People and the Mines
2020 kicks off with 4 mini exhibitions celebrating the lives of local people, together with 2 which are focussed on the mines.

We are able to stage these 6 exhibitions thanks to the creation of a new exhibition space on the mezzanine floor, which is now renamed the Alex Hann Exhibition Gallery. 

Thanks to 2 bequests we now have new display systems in place and also 2 new high security cabinets. The opportunity was taken over the Christmas period by Trustees Martin Horler and Nick Hall to repaint the side walls in shades of blue to enhance the overall look of the space. 

Come and have a look!

Science in Radstock
Science in Radstock talks start again on Tuesday Feb 18th at 7:30 pm in the Radstock Working Men's Club with Dr Maren Pauly presenting a talk on  "Dendrochronology"

She will explore the fascinating subject of determining the age of a tree, or wood from it, plus the environmental conditions in which it grew, through the profile of its growth rings together with carbon dating.

See website for details.

Bygone Days
Bygone Days talks also start again on Tuesday Feb 18th (NOT the usual 1st Tuesday of the month) at 7:30 pm in the Somer Centre Midsomer Norton, with Adrian Tuddenham presenting an illustrated talk entitled: 
"The Ups and Downs of the Somersetshire Coal Canal"

When the canal was proposed, the initial survey by William Smith revealed a height difference of 135 feet between the coalfields and the Kennet and Avon Canal. 

Overcoming this obstacle involved some innovative technology and several major changes of plan, almost leading to bankruptcy, before the canal finally struggled into existence.

See website for details.

Five Arches

The winter issue of Five Arches is on sale in the Museum shop.
In this issue we stop in at the 31st Annual Miners’ reunion; Anne Miall marks the 75th anniversary of the Double Hills disaster; John Gibson takes a look at evacuation at Norton Hill Colliery; David Cheetham explains the workings of a Savory steam engine; Gill Hogarth investigates the history of the Somerset yeomanry; Steve Biggs and his father set off in the footsteps of ancestor Henry Witcombe; and we publish the last article written by the late Barry Maule, celebrating the life of a miner’s wife.

It you aren’t already a subscriber you can sign up by visiting the Museum website.
Back in the Day

Back In the Day resumes again on Friday 7th February from 1030 until 12 noon: looking forward to seeing you all again and back together for 2020! 

It's show and tell time: bring along a piece of clothing which holds special memories for you that you're happy to share the story of with us.

Tea & Coffee free, donations very welcome, see the website for details.

New:  Get Together Café

Our Memory Café has proved extremely popular and successful, and so a new afternoon community café is starting up on the first Monday of the month, from March 2nd, for people living with memory loss. 

Crafts, activities, music, object handling & vintage local pictures, come along and belong! Tea & coffee free, donations very welcome.

To register your interest in attending the 'Get Together Cafe', please email or phone 01761 437722. 

Braysdown and Writhlington Colliery Model
The Museum has recently been given a wonderful model of Braysdown and Writhlington Colliery and the associated railway lines. We are indebted to Alan Parr for his generous gift. 

The model is approximately 1.4m x 3.5m  and in phase 1 of the installation project has been "suspended " over the well in the first floor. 

In phase 2, which will take a couple months, we will be tidying up the installation and making interpretation boards which relate the model to how the area looks now.

But even at this early stage it is well worth a visit to view it and as your entrance ticket lasts a whole year you can come back in a few months to see what progress we have made!

Kilmersdon Colliery Token Returns Home

At each colliery every miner had his own numbered token which he would remove from the tally board when he arrived for his shift and take it with him into the mine.

After his shift he returned the token to the tally board, which was thus an up to date visual display as to who was down in the mine at any one time. Although these were the days before much was done in the way of health and safety, if there was an accident underground and the mine was evacuated, the tally board would tell the manager if any miners remained underground and exactly who they were.


Walter Henry Holder (1909-1995) was miner number 12 at Kilmersdon Colliery, Haydon, until the mine closed in 1973. Walter’s last job there was as lamp checker.
When Walter passed away, his token went to his daughter Pamela Ruddock (formerly Pamela Holder) who gave it to her nephew Clive Holder. But Clive, who lives in Australia, decided that he would like Radstock Museum to have the token for safekeeping. 
Clive and his family had been staying in Radstock with their aunt Pamela for a few days as their last stop before returning to Australia following a tour around the UK on a “once in a lifetime” trip. 

Thanks to a request from Clive's cousin fifteen year old Eddie Ravensdale, we were delighted to welcome Clive and his family to  the museum to show them what life might have been like for his grandfather Walter. He was able to visit the museum’s reconstruction of a coal mine and see some of the tools used as well as one of the cages which would have lowered miners into the pit.

We are very grateful for Clive's donation of his grandfather’s token which will now go on display in its rightful place on the Kilmersdon tally board.
Pictured here are: Walter’s daughter Pamela Ruddock (formerly Holder) of Radstock, Walter’s great grandson, 12-year-old Patrick Holder from Australia and Walter’s grandson Clive Holder from Australia holding up token number 12 next to the hook where it belongs.
New Item Donated to the Collection
This beautiful silver rose bowl has been donated to the museum by Mrs Diana Emery and the Heal family of Hallatrow.

It was given to Albert Heal as a wedding gift from colleagues at Somerset Collieries where he was employed as head of coal sales.

The bowl is now on display together with more information on his life and work.

Museum Community Partnership
Thatcher + Hallam LLP
The Museum enjoys a very successful Community Partnership with local solicitors Thatcher + Hallam LLP and we were delighted to be able to host their free event for local residents about the importance of making a will.

The current exhibition contains material about the Thatcher family and we also have on display 2 very old ledgers which have just been unearthed by T+H during renovation work at their Island House premises.

We are very grateful to T+H for giving the Museum a generous donation and sponsoring some environmentally friendly prizes for the children's events which we run.
George Persson, Partner at T+H LLP, giving a donation to Museum treasurer Jos Binns
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