Guest post: Charles Potter shares the railway history love from Topsham Museum

Today’s guest post is a case study from a successful Museums at Night event organiser, Charles Potter of Topsham Museum in Devon.


Museums at Night is over for another year – and wasn’t it amazing? It is thought that the final total was 457 events taking place at 352 venues – more than ever before. Here at Topsham Museum everything ran like clockwork on Sunday 15th May too!

Our clockwork train layout was a major attraction for both young and old: 150 visitors joined in this evening event for the third year.

A man dressed as a train conductor demonstrating a model railway

Young and old visitors alike enjoyed discovering the model railway

As the main exhibition in 2011 centres around the 150th anniversary of the Exeter to Exmouth line, it was decided to maintain this theme throughout the evening.

There was a chance to recall the days of steam with Francis Luscombe and Mike Trout who talked of the line from the station to the Quay and the fight to keep the line to Exmouth during the ‘Beeching’ era!

Continuing the railway theme, music played was provided by the Saxation Quartet who are part of the Lympstone Band. Many toes were tapping as a crowd gathered round in the garden.

4 saxophone players under a gazebo

The Saxation Quartet provided a musical accompaniment to the evening

As a finale, an enthusiastic audience gathered in the Tea Room to listen to poems, again with the railway theme, written by Auden, Betjeman and T.S. Eliot.  These were read with great feeling by Eric Hume, Myra Green, and Maggie Butt.

Three people reading aloud from folders

A trio of poetry readers at Topsham Museum

So, where do we go next year? With 2012 being the year of the Olympics, we’re planning the theme of Sport!

Charles Potter is Audience Development Officer for Topsham Museum.

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