Radstock Museum is totally independent and has only one paid employee, the Manager/Curator, which means that it relies on local volunteers to carry out its many activities.
It is home to the collection of the Radstock, Midsomer Norton and District Museum Society and celebrates the history and heritage of the former Somerset Coalfield which stretched from Bishop Sutton in the West to Dunkerton 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, with Radstock at its heart, and it is the lifestyle of a typical Somerset coalminer of this period up to the closure of the last pit in 1973 which is reflected in the Society's collection of mining artefacts representing mining activities and the miners’ everyday life; artefacts of social, domestic, religious, agricultural and commercial interest with special reference to the Co-operative movement, Friendly Societies, schooling and education; wartime memorabilia; John Wesley and Methodism; Great Western and Somerset & Dorset railways and canal artefacts
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. 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 The Great Western Railway and the Somerset & Dorset Railway, which superseded the Somersetshire Coal Canal, impacted greatly on the community, with the Radstock S&D Station being adjacent to the Market Hall and the GWR station being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.
The Radstock, Midsomer Norton & District Museum Society
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.
The former Radstock Market Hall was acquired In 1996 and three years later, on 10th July 1999, Radstock Museum opened its doors and became the new home of the Society's Collection.