Mainline Attraction

We have enjoyed a busy and eventful week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre.

Our week started at a new, exciting event in the form of the first “South West Learning Symposium.”

The Symposium was held at the rather grand West of England Academy of Art in Bristol. We enjoyed talks from the Director of the Academy on the ‘Happy Museum’ initiative; a key contact from the Museum of East Asian Art on working with paid facilitators for special projects and the latest work of the South West Heritage Trust, based in Taunton, Somerset.

After lunch, staff were divided into groups to share in smaller ‘break out’ sessions on subjects including reminiscence with senior participants and safeguarding of staff for children’s activities.

Wednesday saw staff and volunteers take a display for a Great Western Railway event. This was held at the Ninesprings Café in Yeovil Country Park. Our initial understanding was for a display and artefacts related to the G.W.R for regional railway groups to enjoy when they visited the café in three groups. As it turned out on the day, delegates were attending a two-day conference with an evening meal at the Manor Hotel and the main conference at Yeovilton Fleet Air Arm Museum, the following day. A particular highlight was seeing each group of delegates appear outside the cafe as they completed their walk of the old track bed up from their arrival at Pen Mill Station.

Our display was a combination of the traditional 3-panel blue board and actual main collection objects and documents. The board featured close-up maps showing the former  Hendford Halt and Town Stations together with the remaining Pen Mill and Yeovil Junction Stations. We then placed photographs of the old Town Station building and events that had happened at each station alongside the maps. These included First World War Soldiers leaving Pen Mill Station to join the front.

The objects were housed in three resin cases and featured a G.W.R porter’s cap; a G.W.R porter’s collar band and eight G.W.R brass buttons together with intriguing documents like a ‘mustering card’ for railway employees that were also part of the Home Guard and a reference for a G.W.R employee requesting a reference for a council house! We also had details of a railway accident at Pen Mill in 1913, but as many people had arrived by train at Pen Mill Station– this was available ‘on request!’

Our 2-6pm time was also a different experience for our volunteers from regular documentation work!

Staff completed the week with a visit to a gentleman and his wife in Yeovil as they had responded to our press release on glove irons. They had both worked for a local glove company. They also let us know of the World War Two rear bomber gunners who got so cold that they could not operate the guns on the aircraft- and these were the first of the crew to be killed by enemy fire as they were able to hit the faster fighters. Yeovil (and other centres of glove production) came to the rescue (literally) by making fur-lined gloves with heated elements that could plugged into the cockpit – like an electric blanket. Staff would very much like to find a pair!

Part of our display for (and at!) Ninesprings Cafe, Yeovil Country Park for the Great Western Railway Community Rail Conference 2016.




(Courtesy of Yeovil Tourist Information Centre)



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