It’s all change here

A new chapter in the life of the Museum is opening.

In September 2013, after nearly 50 years based in a cottage garden in the heart of the Cotswold town of Winchcombe, the decision was reluctantly taken to close the museum. The advancing age of its owners meant that the work of maintaining the gardens and exhibits had sadly become too onerous.

Part of our collection of railway restaurant crockery and cutlery.
A selection from our collection of railway restaurant crockery and cutlery.

The Museum’s collection of smaller railway artefacts and documentation — numbering about 12,000 objects that represent every aspect of life and work on British railways over the past century — is probably the best in the UK outside the National Railway Museum in York. Our long years of public access in Winchcombe have taught us what a good way it is to tell people of all ages about the fascinating history of British railways and the lives of the people who worked and travelled on them.

A steering committee has been formed, made up of the collection owners and a number of individuals who bring long experience in the museums field. We’re determined that the collection should find a new home and a fresh approach to presentation so that it will once again be accessible to the public as an engaging and inspirational educational and interpretive resource.

We would like to express our thanks to the trustees of the Vale of Berkeley Railway, a recently formed heritage railway that plans to reopen the line between Sharpness and Berkeley, for their offer of a partnership and a base with them. However, planning and business constraints have got in the way and we are now starting a fresh search. This could take the form of a partnership with another heritage railway, an association with another museum or some other approach. Our primary objective is to find a way to make use of the collection for public benefit while keeping it intact and cared for.

Part of our signalling collection.
Part of our collection of railway signalling telegraph units.

Alongside our search for a new home, we are working on a very large project at our existing site at Winchcombe to catalogue, document, photograph and conserve all the items in the collection. We intend to apply for museums accreditation so we will be adhering to the good practice and agreed standards required for registration by Arts Council England. As a first step, the existing catalogue has already been digitised. The aim is that that when the time comes for the collection to be moved from Winchcombe to a new home as many items as possible will be ready for display.

This won’t be a quick job. Meanwhile, we are turning ourselves into a charitable incorporated organisation and researching partnerships and funding opportunities.

We will tell you more as plans evolve.

Everyone involved with the collection is a volunteer. Recruiting and training volunteers will be at the heart of what we do. If you live anywhere within reach of Winchcombe and would like to know more about how you might get involved please contact us. By contributing your time and knowledge you will help preserve the marvellous collection for the public to enjoy in future years.

News

New member of our team: We are delighted that Jackie Britton, who has long experience in managing and moving museum collections at the V&A and Science Museum, has agreed to join our steering committee. Her expertise will be invaluable.

Change of plans: Planning and business issues mean that it will not be possible for the Museum to locate to the Vale of Berkeley Railway as proposed. The trustees are working on various options for a new long-term home for the collection.

Catalogue project complete: A team of 16 volunteers under Michael Quinion as project manager has completed a project to convert our paper catalogue into a searchable database.In only six months they transcribed the records of more than 12,000 items.

More news as we have it. Please check in again for regular updates on how you can get involved in creating the museum in its new home.

We shall be delighted to hear from you. Your comments and suggestions will be most welcome. And do please contact us If you would like to help us create a new home for the collection.

Contact us

Winchcombe Railway Museum
23 Gloucester Street
Winchcombe
Gloucestershire
GL54 5LX

01242 609305

Email us using our contact form.