All hands to the pump at mining museum

VOLUNTEERS at Purbeck Mining Museum at Norden have had a busy winter as they prepare for the attraction to reopen for the new season over the Easter weekend.
The museum will be opening longer hours during 2023 and is introducing new trails through the 25 acres of woodland around the site.
“It has certainly been a hectic winter for everyone connected with the museum,” said the venue’s chair, Peter Sills.
“It hasn’t just been a case of maintaining buildings, tracks and rolling stock, but also clearing areas of dense undergrowth, wildlife surveys and landscape assessments, as well as an intensive curation programme to support our move to secure accreditation from Arts Council England.”
He added: “Mother Nature has now reclaimed the desolate and lunar-like landscape left in the wake of three centuries of intense ball clay mining around Furzebrook and Norden.
“However, it has always been our intention to not only showcase the area’s largely forgotten industrial heritage but also to show how mining activities have, quite literally, shaped large swathes of the Purbeck landscape we see today.
“As a ‘living museum’ for visitors, we’re keen to provide much more than just a static display of artefacts from yesteryear.
“That’s why we’re continuing to increase the frequency of our demonstrations of engine and wagon movements on the restored narrow-gauge tracks at Norden and looking to extend our outdoor offering with new woodland walks.”
Having secured funding to open up previously inaccessible woodland around the reinstated clay mine, the museum will now be able to provide visitors with the opportunity to not only find out more about the area’s industrial past but spot wildlife along the woodland trails next to Purbeck Park.
Footpaths and interpretation boards will be installed through the woodland that has remained untouched for over half a century. Viewpoints looking towards Corfe Castle and across Blackwater Lake are also being created, as well as picnic areas for visitors.
Purbeck Mining Museum, which is attracting more visitors every year and is run entirely by volunteers, has also received funding for a new welfare building for use by team members and to increase the scope for group and educational visits.
“We’re looking to extend our opening times this year and we are always looking for new volunteers who have an interest in local history, engineering and the local ecology and who enjoy meeting people,” added Peter Sills.
“Our volunteers come from far and wide and anyone who joins us for the 2023 season will be joining us at a really interesting time as we have so many exciting plans for continuing to extend and develop the facilities and activities for visitors.”David Hyde from Binnegar is the latest volunteer to join the team at The Purbeck Mining Museum at Norden
One of the latest volunteers to join Purbeck Mining Museum’s team is David Hyde from Binnegar, near Wareham, who will be helping with the documentation and development of a comprehensive database of the museum’s extensive collection of artefacts and display materials.
David has previous experience driving narrow gauge locomotives and helped the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway at Porthmadog gain museum accreditation. He originally visited Norden over 60 years ago to try and trace what remained of the narrow-gauge railways and clay works.
“I picked up a book at an exhibition at Olympia in 1958 that referenced the Purbeck mining industry,” he said.
“I found it fascinating and was keen to find out what remained of such a once thriving industry. Quite frankly, there wasn’t much to see and, today, nature really has taken over.
“Little did I realise that I would be returning to the area 60 years later to play my part in helping to support and promote such a significant heritage venue.”
More information on the Purbeck Mining Museum can be found at Anyone who would like to join the museum’s team of volunteers can complete the form on the website.

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