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News Update - June 2019

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

Apr 30th -          Villages Exhibition
Aug 18th      

Jun 30th            Rugborne Farmhouse Visit

Jul 5th               Memories over Elevenses

Jul 6th -             Meet the Experts  
Aug 24th

Jul 13th             20th Anniversary in the Market Hall  

Jun 19th            Memory Café


Details of all the events and exhibitions are here

Villages Exhibition

Until 18th August
Four local communities (Clapton, Holcombe, Ston Easton and Welton) have created posters of old photos and histories, together with artefacts to illustrate some aspects of the history of their villages.

The exhibition shows the social changes that occurred as agriculture gave way to mining and heavier industry.

Visit to Rugbourne Farmhouse 

Sunday 30th June (pm)
The Museum is running a visit to Rugbourne Farm for house and garden tour, cake and tea on Sunday 30th June.
A few tickets (£14) are still available at the Museum where you can find out the full details.
Rugbourne Farm is a small Renaissance (C17) manor house between High Littleton and Timsbury, farmed until 2002 when the current owners bought it as their home, saving it from imminent collapse. Architect Andy Paterson, with the help of his wife Zanna (lecturer specialising in Renaissance drama), has lovingly repaired it and work is still being completed on the second floor.

Andy and Zanna are only the third owner-occupiers, which to some extent explains why Rugbourne is substantially unchanged since it was first built, and retains its architectural and tactile integrity.

It is noted for its most famous tenant,
William Smith, who began the first ever stratological map of Britain in this house, an excellent print of which is on view. He called Rugbourne ‘the birthplace of English geology’.
Memories over Elevenses

Friday 5th July  10:30 am - 12 noon

Every first Friday of the Month we hold "Memories over Elevenses" in our Tearoom.

The idea is that you come to Radstock Museum for 10:30 am, maybe with a friend too and perhaps some old photos or objects relating to local history. Then you can enjoy teas, coffees and cakes with other local people and with Lisa Pool, our new Events Manager. There is no charge but any voluntary donation to help with the costs would be much appreciated.

Many thanks to Radstock Town Council for its support.

Meet the Experts

Saturdays from July 6th 2:00 - 4:00 pm

On many Saturdays during July and August a succession of "Experts" will be demonstrating or talking about their craft or interest, with the opportunity for visitors to get some hands on experience. 

There is no additional charge for entry over and above the standard admission price and, as tickets are valid for a year, if you visit the first session you can come to all the rest for nothing!

The first expert is Peter Leach who will be demonstrating printing on July 6th between 2 and 4 pm.

For the full programme visit our Website page.


Memory Café

Friday 19th July  10:30 am - 12 noon

Every third Friday of the Month with the support of the Alzheimer's Society and BANES Carers' Club we hold a Memory Café in our 1930s decor Railway Buffet. 

The Memory Café will take place outside normal Museum opening hours, meaning that it will be a calm, reassuring and safe environment for all visitors.  It is intended for people who are living with memory loss and for their carers. 

There is no charge but the Museum would appreciate all donations. Click here for more details.


The Shop

Shop Manager's Role
Jenny Newbury has successfully and enthusiastically managed the Museum shop for the last 7 years, devising and overseeing a  major revamp of the displays, and also making the merchandise on offer more attractive to visitors.

But she now feels it is time to move on to other roles and so the Museum Trustees are looking for a new volunteer manager.

The role, which does not involve being in the shop during opening hours, requires about 6 hours input per week but some of this can be done from home.The role could be shared between 2 volunteers and Jenny will provide training and ongoing support to the new manager(s).

If you would like to find out more please contact our Chairman Nick Hall ( ).
The photo shows Jenny with one of the David Fisher prints which are for sale in the shop.
The prints are from a series of pencil drawings created by David in 1983 for the Radstock Co-operative Society’s 1984 calendar and we have produced six wonderful limited edition prints exclusive to the Museum, which are displayed for sale in the shop or by mail order.
A Rough Guide to Family History

A new booklet in the shop (£2.00) is ‘A Rough Guide to Family History’, by Simon Carter, which offers user-friendly advice for exploring your family tree and helps you through some common difficulties.

Simon is Radstock Museum’s resident Documentation team leader with a wealth of knowledge & experience regarding records and archives of the past.

He will be available as one of the Meet the Expert contributors on 27 July from 2:00 - 4:00 pm.

Mystery Photograph Competition

The photos which were entered into the "Then and Now" competition run by Midsomer Norton, Radstock and District Journal in conjunction with the Museum have now been judged.

The winners will be hosted in the Museum on 29 June between 11:00 am and  12 noon when they will receive their prizes.

All their photos will then be put on display in the Museum.

Many thanks to the MNRDJ for running this competition and to all those who went out and took the "Now" photographs.


Alex Hann
1924 - 2019

Alex and his twin brother, Ivor, were born in Radstock on 18 July 1924. School days were followed, almost immediately, by an RAF uniform and time in service in India, Malaya and Indonesia. After the war, Alex returned to Radstock and followed his father underground. In 1953 Alex married Audrey Presley and they had 2 sons, Simon and Jeremy. 
Keen to advance himself, he studied hard, eventually becoming a certified mine manager and joining the Mines Rescue Service in which he rose to become the fifth and final Superintendent of the Somerset Mines Rescue Service in 1961. 
He regularly lectured on safety at the Mining Institute at Old Mills and continued as Superintendent of the Mines Rescue Service until it was disbanded in 1974 with the closure of the last Somerset Mine, Kilmersdon Colliery at Hayden. During that time, he was involved in the rescue work that followed the Aberfan disaster in October 1966, and started his own business, Gasex, in 1968 which traded in mine safety equipment and design.
A long-standing supporter of Radstock Museum, in retirement Alex has been generous with his time and his stories, sharing his knowledge and experience for the benefit of future generations. From oral history interviews to TV and radio appearances, Five Arches articles, to talks on the Mines Rescue Service, Alex has helped shape our understanding of the Somerset coal industry and the people who work in it. 
A highlight of each passing year was the annual get together with old friends at the miners’ reunion at the Museum. His last outing came in March this year, when he attended the Museum’s Bygone Days talk on the history of the Mines’ Rescue Service. In typical Alex style, he followed the speaker by saying a few words to those who attended and offered a short recitation. Held in high esteem by those he trained, many of whom stayed in touch long after the Somerset and Cornish mines had closed and they had themselves retired, Alex will also be missed by his many friends at the Museum.  
Alex is survived by his sons, Simon and Jeremy. Today the family business has been split in two: Simon deals with the provision of breathing apparatus and compressed gasses while Jeremy runs Gasex Ltd from the old pithead baths at the former Ludlows Colliery in Radstock. The latter continues the family link with Mines Rescue work, contracting to several mining companies in UK and Ireland training their teams in all aspects of Mine Rescue work, as well as training general industrial customers for working in confined spaces.
Thanks to Julie Dexter for providing the information on which the above was based. A full article will appear in the next edition of the Five Arches Journal.



20th Anniversary in the Market Hall

20 years ago, in mid July 1999, the Museum finally re-opened in its new home in the restored and converted Market Hall, completing a long project to move out of its temporary home in Haydon.

We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to all those who had the vision and drive to make this happen, without them a lot of the history of the Somerset Coalfield would have been lost forever.

We are still a thriving concern thanks to the support of a huge number of individuals,  local organisations and grant awarding bodies. We are much appreciated by our visitors who give us wonderful reviews, a few of which are quoted here:
  • My parents loved all the old items they remembered using and my teenager loved the virtual reality experience. A great way to spend a rainy afternoon.
  • A brilliant afternoon, my 4 and 6 year old girls loved it and want to come back again tomorrow. 
  • Fantastic place, lots of memories, lovely hot and cold drinks and home cooked cakes.

Here's to the next 20 years!
Duke of Edinburgh Award

Well done to a local DofE Award scheme participant who has completed a 3 month volunteering programme with the Museum as one of the parts of his DofE Silver award.
Work Experience 

During the week of 16 July the Museum is running a work experience programme for 2 local students (from Norton Hill and Somervale schools) who will learn about how the Museum is run, taking in everything from the archives and their care to how the Museum's finances are managed.

Midsomer Norton Arts Festival 
The Museum will be supporting the MSN Arts Festival on Saturday 13 July. The photo below shows the decorated triangles which have been made by Volunteers for the event.

Village Days 
Radstock Museum Volunteers will also be taking our gazebo to many other local village days, fetes and events this year. 

It is an ideal opportunity to talk to our Volunteers about local history and to see a selection of books relevant to the village concerned.

We look forward to seeing you at our stand.

Dementia Champion 

Our Events Coordinator, Lisa Pool ( is now a Dementia Champion and can offer help to other organisations in the area who are addressing the best ways of making what they do "Dementia friendly". 
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