THE new-look Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard station on the West Somerset Railway has been formally opened by Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow. 

Around £60,000 was invested in new displays and interactive materials and activities. 

The work was funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and the West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust.

The museum's re-opening is the result of three years of work by trustees and volunteers.

It was completed last year but its formal opening was pushed back due to Covid. 

The museum is housed in the former Great Western Railway goods shed on platform one at Bishops Lydeard station - built in 1862 - which is around five miles from Taunton.

Ms Pow said: “I am delighted to have been asked to re-open the Gauge Museum because preserving our railway heritage and celebrating the role of the West Somerset Railway as part of our local community through this insightful museum is an excellent achievement, and I commend the Trust for developing this initiative.”

Somerset County Gazette: Rebecca Pow MP visits the footplate of the GWR 2-8-0 No. 2857 with WSR chairman Jon Jones-Pratt (left) and volunteer Ray Lee. Picture: Ian ColebyRebecca Pow MP visits the footplate of the GWR 2-8-0 No. 2857 with WSR chairman Jon Jones-Pratt (left) and volunteer Ray Lee. Picture: Ian Coleby

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust took responsibility for managing the museum in 2017 and successfully applied for heritage lottery funding to refurbish it.

The museum aims to promote education by raising people's interest in railway lines, equipment, and buildings, plus steam or other traction engines of significance.

Jon Jones-Pratt, chairman of the WSR company, said: “The Heritage Trust has done a fantastic job to enhance the Gauge Museum as a key attraction on the WSR.

“A lot of hard work has gone into the project and we encourage visitors to go and visit the range of new and improved displays and artefacts that the museum has to offer.”

Heritage Trust chairman Mike Thompson said: “The completion of the Gauge Museum project marks a real milestone in the achievements of the Heritage Trust.

“I would like to thank all the trustees and volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the last three-and-a-half years to bring such an impressive achievement to fruition.

“We also thank the National Heritage Lottery Fund for their contribution and support, and we look forward to visitors and staff enjoying what is a real celebration of the history and heritage of the West Somerset Railway.”