About the Museum
Radstock was at the heart of the Somerset Coalfields which stretched from Bishop Sutton in the West to Peasedown St John in the East and from Pensford in the North to Coleford and Nettlebridge in the South. The coalfield reached its peak of production in the early 1900s but the last of the Somerset collieries, Kilmersdon and Writhlington, closed in 1973. The Radstock, Midsomer Norton and District Museum Society was founded in 1985 to preserve the social and industrial heritage of the communities of the whole of the former Somerset Coalfield. The first issue of 'Five Arches', the Journal of the Society, appeared in 1986 and the Society's Collection was first put on permanent display at Barton Meade, Haydon, in 1989.
In 1996 the old Radstock Market Hall was acquired and three years later, on 10th July 1999, Radstock Museum opened its doors and became the new home of The Society's Collection.
Run by a team of dedicated volunteers with only one paid employee the Radstock Museum celebrates the lifestyle of the typical Somerset coalminer. The Museum illustrates not only the home life of the mining families, but also the vibrant social, commercial and industrial structure of the district over the past two hundred years.
Dedicated areas demonstrate the coalface and the miner's hard, dangerous working conditions. Shop at the Co-op as his wife did over 70 years ago, relive the trepidation felt by his children in the strict Victorian Board School; see how the community life centered round the twin pleasures of the church and the pub.
His sporting activities focused on football, quoits and pigeon-racing – all well documented within the Museum. The Friendly Societies formed the safety net for the mining community in times of need and pit disasters. The Great Western Railway and the Somerset & Dorset Railway, which superseded the Somersetshire Coal Canal, impacted greatly on the community, with the Radstock S&D Station being adjacent to the Market Hall and the GWR station being close by.
Local enterprise depicted includes the Blacksmith's Forge and a Victorian Printing Office complete with 1856 Albion Press and composing area. Besides the collieries, other local employers in the town were boot and shoe manufacturers, brewers, printers, foundries and agriculture; all of these are represented within the Museum.
Memories and physical reminders live on – take one of the four heritage walks to visit the former pit sites, or collect fossils. Learn more about Radstock, the people and the surrounding areas by subscribing to "Five Arches" the Museum's own periodical publication.