Carpentry students from Bath College have built a new display at Radstock Museum to help tell the story of mining engineer James McMurtrie.
James McMurtrie has a historic connection with Bath College, as he lived at South Hill House, built on the grounds of the college’s Somer Valley Campus.
Students William Minty, Tyler Bryant, Daniel White and Samuel Watts have been volunteering at the museum to help staff create the new display, called James McMurtrie’s parlour.
Painting and decorating students will put the finishing touches to the parlour walls, and level 1 carpentry and joinery students have built five plinths for the museum to use for displays.
Who was James McMurtrie?
Born in Ayrshire in 1840, James McMurtrie moved to Somerset to become the manager at Newbury Colliery in Coleford. He made many improvements and, as a result, was hired by Countess Waldegrave as Under Manager at Middle Pit in Radstock.
Countess Waldegrave inherited estates in Somerset, Essex and London after the death of her second husband (the 7th Earl Waldegrave) in 1846, and owned all the mines in Radstock at this time.
She paid for South Hill House as a thank you for James McMurtrie’s hard work. This was demolished in the 1950s and Radstock Technical College was built, which merged with Bath College in April 2015.
Carpentry lecturer Adrian Drake said: “It was good for the students to participate in a volunteering project that helps to develop their employability skills.
“It was quite a technical job, because the museum has a sloping roof. They also had to negotiate with the museum, to let them know when they were coming and how noisy the work would be.”