The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust WSRHT

The Trust’s Gauge Museum Project wins Heritage Lottery Funding support

Posted on July 31, 2018

West Somerset Steam Railway Trust project to relaunch the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard wins Heritage Lottery Funding support.

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is very pleased to announce that it has received a National Lottery grant of £40,000 for an exciting heritage project to relaunch the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard station. Made possible by money from National Lottery players, the money will improve the displays in the Museum and widen our outreach to the local community and visitors to the railway.

The West Somerset Railway is the longest heritage railway in Britain. It is one of Somerset’s most visited attractions. But apart from enjoying a journey behind a steam locomotive, visitors to the railway do not currently have many opportunities to learn about its history. The project will, for the first time, seek to present and develop the Trusts collections in a way which enables and encourages broader public engagement with both the local community (including schools and colleges) and visitors.

The Museum is housed in the historic Goods Shed building which was designed by Brunel and dates from the opening of the line in 1862. The Museum features a unique 1897 GWR Sleeping Car, owned and restored by the Trust. The Trust which took over management of the Museum in January 2017 will improve displays and make use of audiovisual equipment to tell the story of the Railway more clearly and illustrate the social, physical and economic impact of railways in Somerset.

In delivering the Project, we will actively engage with the local community by, for example, recruiting and training volunteers to help manage the Museum and its collections, to research and document the social and operational history of line and to undertake a recording project with retired railway workers and users of the line. The National Lottery grant will also enable us to employ a part-time Learning Officer to promote the use of the Museum for school visits.

Announcing the grant award, Trust Chairman Chris Austin said

“We are delighted with the grant which, together with our fundraising and volunteer input will allow us to make the museum more interesting and relevant to the railway’s visitors. It will also allow us to reach out into the community and inspire a new generation with the excitement of a steam railway and to understand better the rich history of the WSR in the Somerset community.”

The Trust is in the process of establishing a Project Group to take the work forward.