A small team of dedicated and determined volunteers who spent 12 years planning and building a pioneering Dorset ball clay mine museum near Corfe Castle is celebrating after winning a prestigious national award for quality.
Located next to the Norden station Park & Ride car park, the museum features a realistic reconstruction of an underground tunnel, a rebuilt mine building, a 300 metre section of narrow gauge railway and also an engine shed with viewing area.
The judges praised the museum and its underground experience for being ‘unique’ in explaining the history and technology behind Purbeck ball clay mining – which dates back some 2,000 years – and for being ‘a valuable education resource’ as well as ‘a quality visitor attraction.’
“It’s an important national recognition and endorsement of some 30,000 hours of hard work by a small team of dedicated and committed volunteers in researching, planning and building the clay mine museum from scratch on the site of the old Victorian ball clay works demolished during the 1970s.
“The museum has been achieved thanks to a £100,000 European Union grant from the Chalk and Cheese organisation as well as £40,000 donated by generous members of the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum.”
“This museum highlights the ball clay industry of Purbeck, where narrow gauge steam railways were once as important as the better known ones that served the slate mines of North Wales, like the Ffestiniog and Talyllyn,” explained Mr Jones.
The Interpretation Award – along with the other Heritage Railway Association annual awards – will be be presented at a dinner at the Bath Guildhall Banqueting Room on the evening of Saturday, 8 February, 2014, during the weekend of the Heritage Railway Association’s Annual General Meeting.
Donations are welcome to help fund continuing preservation and development work at the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum – just go on-line and visit ‘www.pmmmg.org‘.