The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust WSRHT

Planning a School Visit

The Railway and its museums are operational between March-October (please see individual timetables for specific dates and times of trains) and we welcome school groups throughout this period.  Our outreach service, including in-school sessions, loans boxes and digital packs are available throughout the whole year. 

The Gauge Museum is based at Bishops Lydeard station on Platform One.  Following an extensive re-fit during 2020, the museum now tells the complete story of the West Somerset Railway; from its beginnings, at the hands of Brunel, to its decline and subsequent recovery, also covering themes such as the Industrial Revolution, the growth of holiday towns such as Minehead and the impact of the railway on the local economy. There are also opportunities to actively engage with our collections by investigating our interactive puzzles and exhibits, delve deeper into our history with our touchscreen archive, try your hand at signalling in our working signal box or step aboard our lovingly restored first-class Victorian sleeping carriage. 

For more information to help you plan your visit, download our Teacher’s Information Booklet here. 

The WSRHT offers a range of Museum Learning Sessions to enhance your visit.  For a full list of available sessions, please visit our Learning Programme Section. If you wish to book a Learning Session with us, please contact our Education and Learning Officer: helen.anson@wsrht.co.uk

 

Click here for a copy of our Terms and Conditions

Your visit to the Gauge Museum can of course be combined with the experience of travelling through the Somerset countryside behind a restored steam locomotive or a vintage diesel.

 

The WSR offers a range of possible routes on our line, allowing you to tailor your visit in terms of time and expense.

For more information, or to book a train journey, please contact our team in bookings:

 

Call: 01643 700398 / Email: groups@wsrail.net

The Gauge Museum is housed in a 19th Century goods shed, which means that unfortunately, space is limited.  We use our lower floor exhibition area for school visits, where we have a carpeted seating area and a large digital screen.  Facilities are provided for children to store their belongings for the duration of their visit.  Due to size restrictions in the museum, it may be necessary to divide classes into smaller groups for each activity.

The age of our building means that unfortunately the Gauge Museum has some access limitations.  The ground floor exhibition space is fully accessible to wheelchair users and the lower floor education space can be reached via a rear entrance.  Unfortunately, there is currently no access to the model railway exhibition on the mezzanine floor.

 

Our Victorian sleeping carriage has extremely narrow corridors and unfortunately does not offer a wide enough turning circle for wheelchairs.

 

Please always make us aware of any wheelchair users or visitors with specific needs at the time of booking or before the day of your visit.

Teachers should please note that, unfortunately, the Gauge Museum does not have toilet facilities on site, but that toilets are available on the other side of the Bishops Lydeard platform with disabled access.  We would suggest that you plan toilet visits into your schedule as there is a significant walk involved.  If you have concerns or questions about this, don’t hesitate to contact our Education and Learning Officer.

  • Bishops Lydeard*
  • Stogumber*
  • Watchet*
  • Dunster
  • Toilets with disabled access
  • Crowcombe Heathfield*
  • Williton
  • Blue Anchor
  • Minehead*

The picnic area is a short walk from the station next to the main car park.  It is equipped with picnic benches and play equipment.  If the weather is poor, children may eat their lunches in the learning space in the museum or in the station waiting room.  Lunches may also be consumed on the trains.  There is a café on the station opposite the museum that serves drinks and light bites. 

 

Please Note: The behaviour of pupils during lunchtime is the responsibility of the teacher. Please clear up any litter before leaving the area. If any cleaning materials or extra bin bags are needed, please ask.

Children are welcome to visit the Bishops Lydeard Station shop which sells a selection of railway related souvenirs.  Please be aware that standard conditions still apply during a shop visit i.e. minimum supervision ratios need to be adhered to and behaviour of pupils closely monitored.

The West Somerset Railway is strongly committed to protecting and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff, volunteers and visitors to embrace this commitment.

The WSRHT follows a policy whereby the photography and filming of school children on organised school visits by general visitors are not permitted in the Museum. Visitors and other members of the public who appear to be taking photographs in inappropriate circumstances should be challenged.

 

Teachers are otherwise welcome to take photographs of the children while in the museum or on the platform. 

We can provide Risk Assessments for all educational activities within the Gauge Museum.  Please note that these are written from the Museum’s perspective and we recommend that all potential Group Leaders also conduct their own risk assessments during your familiarisation visit. 

 

Click here for a copy of our Risk Assessments

 

Please ensure you read our Risk Assessments for school visitors before your visit and brief all accompanying adults and, where appropriate, the children.  

We require that schools observe a minimum supervision ratio of 1 to 6 at KS1, 1 to 8 at KS2 and 1 to 12 at KS3 and above. This is also the maximum group walkabout number. Classes are to be divided into small groups (as above) with a competent / trained / qualified adult responsible for the supervision and behavior of each group at all times. The behaviour and supervision of the pupils on the West Somerset Railway is the responsibility of the teacher.

 

Adults are to remain with their designated group at ALL times.

We encourage all teachers who are planning a visit to the WSR to attend a familiarisation visit.  Entry to the museum is free, but please check the opening times on our website to avoid disappointment.  If you wish to speak with our Learning Officer regarding your visit, please let us know in advance. 

 

We are happy for any school staff that will be accompanying the children on the day of the actual visit to attend the familiarisation visit, so that everyone feels fully confident on the day.

 

Though Risk Assessments are provided, we strongly recommend that you conduct your own assessment to complement ours.   Museum Trails are available, but you may also wish to develop your own learning resources to enhance the visit.