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News Update - January 2018

Items in this Update cover:
  • Dates for your diary
  • Exhibitions
  • Somerset Coalfield Life programme latest news
  • Somerset Coalfield Play
  • Shop
  • Tearoom
  • Talks programme
  • News
Full details are below or on our website.
Dates for your Diaries

Feb 1st    Museum re-opens

Feb 1st    New exhibition "Douai to Downside"    

Feb 6th    Bygone Days Talk "History of Downside in Pictures"

Feb 20th  Science in Radstock Talk "Bio-electronics"

Details of all the events and exhibitions are here

"From Douai to Downside: a story in words and objects"
The 2018 temporary exhibitions start on 1st February with the fascinating story of the journey made by a small group of Benedictine monks from their monastery in Douai to the Somerset village of Stratton-on-the Fosse to build the Abbey and school.

Compiled by the archivists at Downside Abbey, it includes objects, photographs and letters from significant moments in Downside’s history, such as a 17th century map, a portable altar used by one of the monks in the Boer War, and original photographs of the building of Downside.
Concurrent Mini Exhibitions

Alongside the main exhibition there are 2 smaller exhibitions running.
The first in a single cabinet shows some medical memorabilia, the contents of a country doctor’s bag. Try and work out what some of the instruments were used for!
The second is a small display of examples of the work of local artist, the late Christopher Marshall, shown in the photo below. 

Christopher's family lived in Peasedown and he attended Peasedown St John Primary  and Norton Grammar School, where he achieved ‘A’ level art before going on to work as a cartographic surveyor for SWEB  at Churchill Bridge, Bath and also at Radstock Road, Midsomer Norton. Christopher spent most weekends going out and about locally taking pictures of churches and also loved creating pen and pencil drawings of buildings, including the Market Hall in Radstock and Clandown Colliery.
Sadly in 1994, aged just 42, Christopher lost his fight for life at the Royal United Hospital after battling cerebral lymphoma. 
His widow Chris and her sons Keith and James have generously given Radstock Museum the copyright to Christopher’s drawings as a lasting tribute to his memory by helping raise funds for the Museum.
Christopher’s beautiful and detailed drawings have also been carefully reproduced onto good quality mugs, coasters, jotters and fridge magnets on sale in the shop.  

Somerset Coalfield Life Update
Virtual Reality Ride

Have you ever wondered what it might have been like deep underground in the coalmines of Somerset? A new Virtual Reality (VR) attraction at the Museum will take you on a ride down into the mines and on a journey back in time through the mine tunnels in a brand new, unique and exciting experience.
Take your seat for the fully 3 dimensional experience, pop on the lightweight headset, which fits comfortably over glasses, and you will find yourself in the cage (the lift) which takes the miners down underground and then your trip begins…….!

Radstock Museum thanks Georgina Hill and Barry Lewis from Bath College / Bath University who collaborated to develop and implement the ride for the final project of their course, gaining them both a Foundation Degree in Applied Computing.

The VR Ride opens in mid February and will only be available on certain days, see the website for details in due course.
Sensory Boxes
Our new sensory boxes are installed and so visitors can relive the smells of the Somerset coalfield in Victorian times.
Monkey Bags
We have also added a selection of monkey bags in which the miners kept the food they took down the mine. Children can see what sort of diet kept the miners going and how it compares to what we eat today.
The Albion Press
An audio-visual display has been added to the print shop, above the Albion Press. We thank the National Print Museum of Ireland for allowing us to use their material.

We hope that this year we will be able to get the Albion Press fully operational so it can be used occasionally to demonstrate the skills of the people who used this sort of machine.
A New Play Set in the
Somerset Coalfield
"Saviour by Amethyst" is an historical adventure written and directed by young local actor Patrick Withey and staged by Black Hound Productions which is a local youth drama group, run by young people who are all aged 18 and under. 

It follows the tragic tale of a young miner, Jacob Baxter, during the late 1800s. Jacob lives in Somerset with his wife Anne, in a small mining village but soon discovers much of the trials and tribulations of the wider Victorian world.

The performance promises to be something completely fresh, encompassing brand new performance techniques, exciting choreography and beautiful music, and will leave you amazed at the talent in the local area.

Watch the production at:
Dragonfly Theatre Writhlington 7pm on 26th January
Merlin Theatre Frome 7:45pm 3rd February 3rd
All tickets £8 Suitable for age 13 and over.
Dragonfly Boxoffice
Merlin Boxoffice
The Shop

After a very successful pre Christmas rush the shop has been re-stocked and opens again on 1st Feb.
Mail Order

We are delighted to announce that we can now process your mail orders using Paypal as well as the tried and trusted method of cheques through the post. 

The new process is fully described on the website and we would like to emphasise that although orders can be paid for through Paypal, you do not have to sign up for a Paypal account, you just have to use a credit or debit card.

14 Walks In and Around Radstock

For those of you who enjoy walking we give advance notice that in March we will be selling a new book of 14 circular walks in and around Radstock, written by the same team of Larry Cunningham, Peter Bradshaw and Sue Fraser who produced the Timsbury walking book.

Watch the website for more details in due course.

The Tearoom
The Tearoom transformation into Southern Region Railway livery is not quite complete, as you can see in the photo below, and the windows are now transformed by addition of old photographs of the railways in action. 

We are exploring possible new additions to the range of food on offer, so next time you are in Radstock why not drop in to see and taste the changes for yourself!
The 2 series of Talks associated with the Museum are restarting after the Christmas interval. Full details are on the website.

Bygone Days
The first Bygone Days Talk of 2018 is on Tuesday 6th February at 7:30 pm in the Somer Centre, when Frances Bircher and Steve Parsons will present "A History of Downside in Pictures" which links into the new exhibition "Douai to Downside" at the Museum.
Science in Radstock

On Tuesday 20th Feb at 7:30 pm in the Radstock Working Men's Club, Dr Ben Metcalfe will  deliver the first talk of 2018. Ben is currently an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Bath where he lectures in machine learning and bioelectronics.

His area of interest is in exploring how we can interface to the electrical signals of the human nervous system, with applications including the treatment of diseases such as arthritis, cancer and epilepsy; as well as the development of more intelligent machines and computers. His talk will start with the origins of the research in the renaissance period, the work of Luigi Galvani, then cover areas of recent history such as cardiac pacemakers and other stimulators, before discussing current and future trends in research.


Understanding the nervous system, the future of medicine and the birth of intelligent machines.

November Quiz Night
The Friends quiz night with raffle and buffet held in November at the Working Men's Club was a great success, attracting a full house of teams and raising over £400 which has been donated to the Museum to pay for the new audio-visual display in the Printshop.

The Museum thanks all those who laid on this event and all of our supporters who made this such a competitive event!

Victorian Christmas Event  
Over 250 visitors enjoyed this final event of 2017 and their comments on Facebook were glowing. 

Although the event entry was free (thanks to a grant) we did a roaring trade in the Shop and Tearoom, the Victorian photo booth was well used and the varied craft tables attracted lots of children (and a few adults) who learned new skills and took away the results of their efforts. A wonderful way to end the year, thanks to all who supported this event.

Internet Access to Museum's Archive Material 

You can now access a large selection of material in the Museum's archives through the internet. 

When this facility was announced in the National Association of Mining History Organisations' newsletter we received over 600 website search enquiries over a 6 day period.

Have you had a look at this searchable website yet?

The Clock
Some of you may have noticed that the Museum went festive in sympathy with the Radstock Christmas lights and illuminated the Market Hall's 3 clock faces in red, green and blue. If you didn't spot this you will have to wait for next Christmas!
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