On Saturday, March 21, the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust (WSSRT/Steam Trust) will be re-opening the popular Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard station on the West Somerset Railway (WSR) after an extensive £60,000, professionally-guided refurbishment.
The challenging project to redesign and reinterpret the Gauge Museum in its historic setting was first started in July 2018 and has been achieved thanks to a grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund of £40,000, together with £20,000 of Steam Trust money.
The focus of the refurbishment project has been to take a fresh look at Somerset’s railway history and bring it up to date using modern museum interpretation methods.
The fascinating story of the West Somerset Railway (WSR) is re-told in a way that appeals to families and enthusiasts alike and will provide a valuable resource for local schools, too, as they tackle science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.
And, right on time for the start of the WSR’s 2020 season, on Saturday, March 21, the museum will reopen to visitors the same day, adding to visitors’ experiences on the heritage railway line.
The Gauge Museum’’ interpretation work has been supported and developed by Smith and Jones Design Consultants Ltd. The firm is an interpretation and design specialist based in Bristol, which helps museums, visitor centres and family attractions to enhance their visitor experience with carefully thought-out communication and inspirational design.
On Easter weekend, there will be a further formal re-opening of the Gauge Museum on Saturday, April 11, by Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The official re-launch event will be attended by a number of invited guests, including many of the volunteers who have worked so hard on the project.
West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Chairman, Chris Austin, said: “We have transformed the Gauge Museum not only to appeal to visitors to the WSR, but also to illustrate to our local community the rich heritage of the longest heritage railway in England.
“Our volunteers have pulled out all the stops to complete this huge task over the short winter period, and the results are stunning. I am so grateful to everyone who has contributed to this wonderful project.”
The Gauge Museum will be open whenever WSR trains are running and stewards will also be on hand to open the Steam Trust’s unique Victorian sleeping car on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, plus WSR Gala days, until October.