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Old 1st Oct 2016, 11:37 am   #1
David G4EBT
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Default The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

Just spent a week visiting various places in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, including the Bakelite Museum, which we've had in mind to visit for some years now, but have never got around to it, until now. It's located at Williton, near Taunton, and well worth a visit. Thousands of Bakelite items from cars to caravans and even a coffin (huh?), and scores of Bakelite radios, TVs, hair driers, toasters, and all manner of things of interest to the likes of us. The building in which the exhibits are housed is also interesting in its own right - a former water mill with much of the original workings still intact.

A little bit sad that the building isn't the best place in which to preserve such items - it will be cold and damp for much of the year and the radios in particular are showing signs of decay, with rotting speaker fabric and the like. I've attached a few pics which I hope will be of interest, and as will be seen, there's one of those heaters using elongated 'sausage' bulbs recently referred to in another thread. There are many more pics to be seen in the 'gallery' at the website:

http://www.bakelitemuseum.net/

The creator and curator of the Museum is Patrick Cook MA, RCA, who I've seen on TV a number of times.

Patrick is a charming man who was at one time a member of the BVWS and I think well known in the era of Gordon Bussey (co-author of 'Setmakers'), and Jonathan Hill:

http://www.bakelitemuseum.net/profes...-services.html

Well worth a visit if in the area.

(Also visited the Haynes Car Museum, near Ilchester, Yeovil - an amazing place, not too far from Taunton.)

Hope that's of interest.
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Old 1st Oct 2016, 1:34 pm   #2
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

Quote:
and even a coffin
Must have been a huge mould!
 
Old 1st Oct 2016, 3:09 pm   #3
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

This I believe is the chap who wrote an article in the Saturday or Sunday Mail many years ago stating all he wanted was a bakelite coffin!

Wonder if anyone else rembers it?
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Old 1st Oct 2016, 5:22 pm   #4
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Smile Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

Hi,
Slightly OT, but I think Williton is not far from Washford, where the 'Tropiquaria' reptile & wireless museum are housed in the BBC transmitting station. Well worth a visit while you're in the area.
Cheers, Pete
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Old 1st Oct 2016, 7:23 pm   #5
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

Fantastic place, being a Bakelite collector I've been twice and loved it, I strongly recomended it too.
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Old 1st Oct 2016, 7:27 pm   #6
David G4EBT
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

Thanks for the info Pete.

Oh dear, just a mile from the Bakelite Museum, but 275 miles from here!

http://www.tropiquaria.co.uk/washfordradiomuseum.html

Never mind - it's on the 'bucket list' now for another time!

(Looks like the radio museum isn't a 'stand alone' venue, but part and parcel of a visit to 'Tropiquaria').
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Old 1st Oct 2016, 7:44 pm   #7
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

Patrick Cook, along with Catherine Slessor, wrote an excellent large format 'coffee table' type book entitled 'Bakelite Collectables'. This covers a wide range of items but does include some very good photographs of radios and TVs. First published in 1992, my copy is a 1998 reprint.
I mention the book because it's worth picking up if you spot one at an antique fair or second-hand bookshop.
Tony
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Old 1st Oct 2016, 8:18 pm   #8
60 oldjohn
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

Any one intending visiting Tropiquaria just for the radio museum should first check it is still available, last time I spoke to Neil he was in the process of moving and setting up a new radio museum in the area.

John.
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Old 2nd Oct 2016, 10:46 am   #9
Lloyd 1985
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

I thought I recognised the name Patrick Cook, I have the Bakelite collectables book, it's what started me on my quest collecting old radio's and TV's!! It was bought for me back in the late 90's when I was about 13 or 14. I'd still love to get my hands on a Sobell 'Stargazer'. The TV22 was first on my list of things to get! I'll have to go visit the museum one day, it looks great.

Regards,
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Old 2nd Oct 2016, 11:32 am   #10
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

Seems a great place to visit, but more than a little disconcerting if it is actually unsuitable to maintain the condition of the pieces it contains, ie damp and cold. I'm not sure of the finances of the place but a good de-humidifer or two would surely help matters. One of the main intentions of any museum should be preservation, more so than display actually.
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Old 2nd Oct 2016, 3:40 pm   #11
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

I am sure I have that book you mention Tony,possibly 2 copies.
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Old 2nd Oct 2016, 7:41 pm   #12
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

Neil Wilson is a BVWS member and usually turns up at the RWB events. His museum space within Tropiquaria is always well worth a visit. You can take in an excellent vintage TV and radio display and then go downstairs to hold a tarantula or friendly snake, just check your pockets before you get back into the car .
I remember when Patrick Cook had a stall behind mine at one of Chris Barrie's Willand events, he sold a mottled KB BM20 for around £275 , I think that was all he needed to sell that day.
Neil
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Old 2nd Oct 2016, 7:47 pm   #13
David G4EBT
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Default Re: The Bakelite Museum, near Taunton

Yes, I've got the book too Tony, in which it's annotated 'Happy Christmas 1994' and was a present from my wife back then.

An excellent book - well illustrated, well researched and well written.

When I see any Bakelite object, the design and die making skills never fails to amaze me, and the presses required to make objects in all manner of shapes and colours must have been phenomenally expensive. Hard to believe that as a child, I recall that Bakelite and other plastics, were often seen as inferior. Bakelite radios were often seen as cheap substitutes for wooden cabinets, and that of course was reflected in the higher price of 'woodies'.

As we all well know, with the passage of time, though Bakelite is durable, it's also fragile and susceptible to damage, but at least it doesn't get woodworm. Wood on the other hand, is repairable and restorable if one has the necessary skills, but is food for invasive beetles. What would be ideal, is Bakelite that isn't 'Breakalite' but will bounce if dropped! That said, like many, I've restored Bakelite cabinets that were smashed to pieces, then sprayed them, so all is not lost. (When brown Bakelite went out of fashion in the 50s, many cabinets were factory sprayed anyway).

As to the upkeep of the museum exhibits, it was just my impression on a short visit that the conditions in which they're kept aren't really ideal, but of course they belong to Patrick Cook, and it's for him to do with them as he wishes (remembering of course that he's a Bakelite expert, and I'm not). I can't imagine that the museum generates much income from visitors. Certainly a quaint place, and Patrick is a charming man.
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