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News Update - April 2018

Items in this Update cover:
  • Dates for your diary
  • Children's Events
  • Dragons' Den
  • Current Exhibitions
  • Forthcoming RADCO 150th Anniversary Exhibition
  • Somerset Coalfield Life programme latest news
  • Shop
  • Talks programme
  • Five Arches
  • News
Full details are below or on our website.
Dates for your Diaries

March 24th  Children's activity: Minor Miners! Quest for Coal    - April 8th 

April  3rd     Bygone Days:  "The Mystery of Writhlington                         Manor and the George Washington Connection"

April  5th     Children's Event:  "Hot Metal" A printing morning

April 17th    Science in Radstock:  "The Science of Scratch"     

April 20th    Dragons' Den Presentations

May 1st       RADCO 150th Anniversary Exhibition starts

Details of all the events and exhibitions are here

Children's Events
There are two events during the Easter holidays specifically for children. 
Come to "HOT METAL" between 10:00 and 12:00 am on 5th April and learn about how to print from Peter Leach, a professional printer.

Up to 3 children can join in for free with each paying adult (£3:00, concessions £2:50).
Join us for “MINOR MINERS! ON A QUEST FOR COAL!” a Radstock Museum twist on the usual Easter Egg Hunt.

A fun mining-themed, self-led activity for museum visitors during the Easter Holidays, from 24 March until 8 April during normal Museum opening hours, included in the standard museum admission charge.

Will you take on the challenge? Can you put yourself in the miner's shoes and find enough coal to claim your winnings?

Chocolate eggs and pieces of fake coal are involved. 
And we have two other longer running events, one for the under fives and one for older children.

For the under 5s we have a Fossil Hunt where our Ammonites have now been joined by Baby Ammonites.

Search the Museum and try to find all 14. There are also unpainted large and small ammonites in our shop, so you can take one home to decorate yourself.

For older children we have a Creative Writing Competition where you can tell us your story of how the miner lost his boot! Competition rules are on our website.
Dragons' Den

Big Local Radstock and Westfield is again running its Dragons' Den awards event on 20th April in the Victoria Hall between 4:30 and 7:00 pm and we will be making 2 bids for grants to improve the schoolroom and to repair 3 of our printing presses.

To be successful we need as many residents of Radstock and Westfield (which include Writhlington, Clandown, Tyning and Haydon) to attend the event and vote for our bids.

There is a free buffet provided by Swallows Community Cafe and the evening is great fun, so please come along and support us if you can.
"From Douai to Downside: a story in words and objects"

This fascinating exhibition ends on April 30th so visit in the next few weeks or you will miss it!

Your ticket is valid for a whole year, so you can enjoy all the other exhibitions over the next 12 months as well for no extra charge.
Concurrent Mini Exhibitions
Alongside the main exhibition there are 2 smaller exhibitions running, that also will end on 30th April.
The first in a single cabinet shows some medical memorabilia and the second is a small display of examples of the work of local artist, the late Christopher Marshall

Forthcoming RADCO Exhibition

Join the crowds at Radstock Museum to celebrate 150 years of Radstock Co-operative Society’s service to the community.

It will include a wide range of posters and artefacts illustrating Radstock Co-operative and Industrial Society’s place in the lives of the people in our area and has been compiled with assistance from many people who have worked in or been served by RADCO in its various shops and other facilities over many years.

Somerset Coalfield Life Update
Virtual Reality Ride

The new Virtual Reality Ride which is available at weekends to visitors at no additional charge was visited by Homes under the Hammer star Martin Robertwho commented:

"A fabulously fascinating morning at Somerset Coalfield Life at Radstock Museum - their new virtual reality mining experience is brilliant, developed by the very clever guys at 252uk Studios"

Come and visit us
between 11 am and 5 pm on Saturdays and between 2 and 5 pm on Sundays  to check it out for yourselves.
If you would like to help with managing this ride from time to time and ensuring that the visitors get the most out of the experience, then please get in touch with the Museum by emailing:

Many thanks to Mark Adler editor of the Mendip Times for these photos
The Dragonfly

INCREDIBLE 3D Dragonfly Prints are now on display in the Museum, which can be viewed using 3D spectacles to have a close encounter with the one and only Radstock Dragonfly fossil.

A huge thank you to the British Geological Survey who provided the two images and also to Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences for providing BGS with access to the original fossil for it to be photographed in this way. Also, to our dedicated Museum Trustee Tom Randall, who constructed the beautiful stand for them to rest upon.  

Click here for more details.

Photo of the Dragonfly model courtesy of 15 year old Maja.

The Shop
New Walking Book

We are delighted to announce that we have published a walking book which is now on sale in the shop priced at £5, or by mail order, with all proceeds going towards maintaining and improving the Museum. 

"Fourteen circular walks in and around Radstock"  has been written by the same team of Peter Bradshaw, Larry Cunningham and Sue Fraser, who produced "Twenty circular walks in and around Timsbury" 

All the walks in the book start and finish at Radstock Museum. They vary in length from 1.3 to 9.3 miles and include some limited wheelchair/pushchair accessible possibilities. There is a map of each route and clear directions with the points of interest encountered on the way well described; these include many reminders of Radstock’s rich industrial heritage.

The whole publication is ring bound to make it easy to use. It is illustrated in colour throughout with historic photos taken from the Radstock Museum archives and with other contemporary photographs.

We are indebted to Sue, Peter and Larry for donating their time and expertise to this project. 
The Bygone Days and Science in Radstock talks both raise funds to support the Museum and its development.  Full details of the talks are on the website.
Bygone Days

The next Bygone Days Talk, which is the last until the autumn, is on Tuesday 3rd April in the Somer Centre and will be given by Dennis Chedgy. 

"The Mystery of Writhlington Manor House and the George Washington Connection" 

Writhlington Manor House, originally built during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the first, saw many owners and tenants of historical interest over several hundred years until its demolition in 1937.

In 1785 the Fairfax family were resident in the Manor; George and Sarah Fairfax were friends with the Washington family in the newly formed United States of America. They were good friends with the "soon to be" first US President George Washington who lived in Virginia… a very close relationship developed ……..All this and more of the mystery will be revealed, including the fate of the Manor House itself.

Science in Radstock

The next talk, the last until the Autumn, will be on Tuesday 17 April in the Radstock Working Men's Club and will be delivered by Adrian Tuddenham. 

The Science of Scratch: Why are old records scratchy and how do we rescue the original sound?

Historic research shows that the first disc records were deliberately made scratchy for technical reasons and playing them with the best modern equipment actually makes the situation worse. By making use of redundant information hidden in the grooves, a lot of the scratch can be identified and removed by analogue computing methods.

Adrian Tuddenham  developed an analogue method for de-clicking old recordings and has designed and built equipment to rescue sound recordings from many obscure and obsolete formats.

Please be advised that Adrian  has an allergy to perfume and has requested that none is used on the evening of his talk.

Five Arches

We are running late with the Spring issue of Five Arches having lost two weekends preparation in March because of the snow... Unfortunately the Five Arches editor has a day job!

It is currently anticipated that the issue will be available mid-April. Regular readers can look forward to more stories from the Great War, including that of local heroine Catherine Pollard; find out about the last Baron Radstock; take a closer look at local landmark - the Old Down Inn; delve into the mysteries of 'moon lore'; investigate public health nuisances from the nineteenth century; and take a trip from Mells Road Station with the Vobster W.I.

While you are waiting, we'd like to hear from you about article ideas for future issues. Do you have a family story to tell? Have you done some research into our local history? Is there a landmark you'd like to know more about? Please, get in touch and let us know, you can e mail

If you want more details about Five Arches or you wish to subscribe, all the details are on our website, click here.

Snow in March
We apologise that the Museum was unable to open on a few days in March because of the snow which made it difficult for volunteers and visitors alike to get to the Museum safely.

We are grateful to Keith Marshall for his wonderful photo of the Museum, a real Christmas card shot!

The Man Engine Comes to Radstock
The Man Engine is coming to Radstock on 6 April and because of its mining links the Museum has been involved in the preparations.

We hope that the Museum will feature in some of the associated television coverage and we have already participated in helping to construct a banner for the event.  

Pit Pony Bridle/Head Protector
The Museum was recently donated a Pit Pony bridle which doubled up as protection for the pony's head.

It had been stored in a garage for many years and consequently had corroded badly and the leather had deteriorated. The iron wire holding the brass decorations in place had rusted completely so they were all loose. It was replaced with copper wire soldered to the back of each piece and refitted to the bridle in exactly the same way as they were originally done.

Once Tom Randall had completed his work, Martin Horler, our harness specialist, then cleaned and treated the leather to ensure its preservation.

It will soon be on display in the museum, photos show before and after preservation.


Radstock WI Model of the Museum
The Radstock WI has made a wonderfully accurate model of the Museum which we hope to be able to borrow and put on display for a while. 
Addition to the Research Library
The Gauzing Gazette is the journal of the Miners’ Lamp Collectors Society and this issue has been added to the Research Library.

It features local expert Alex Hann, who developed a special lamp to assist in the training of miners to detect fire-damp, the lethal gas often present in coal mines (although not particularly in Somerset).
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