Although the Trustees of Frome Heritage Museum have made the sad decision to keep the building in North Parade closed to the general public until at least October, they have made special preparations for individual researchers to visit over the coming months.
All Health and Safety regulations have been observed in order to make it possible for up to six people to be working in the museum at any one time. We think there are many Frome residents who would like to take this opportunity to delve into various aspects of Frome’s history and heritage, maybe even into their own families or streets. There has never been a better time to find out what the museum stores in its collections: To search the catalogue just follow the link below to access our catalogue containing more than 21,000 items. Tell us which ones you would like to explore and we will have those ready for you at a socially distanced work station in our library at an agreed time.
Prospective researchers should phone reception (01373 454611) between 10am and 2pm Monday-Friday in advance to make the necessary arrangements. Frome Museum is very keen to continue to serve the needs of the local population during these uncertain times and will recommence general opening as soon as it is practical to do so.
Frome Heritage Museum has secured a grant of £1,000 that will contribute to the conservation of the over 3,000 glass negatives that are part of the museum’s collection of the work of J. W. Singer Ltd. The grant is funded by South West Museums Development using public funds from Arts Council England and contributing Local Authorities.
Visitors may have seen some of the images from the negatives when they formed a part of the collaborative project ‘Casting the World’ that ran throughout 2019. Part of the project was the exhibition ‘Casting The World: The Story of J. W. Singer & Sons, Frome’ which was a Rook Lane Arts project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
‘Casting the World’ is also the title of the book by Sue Bucklow that complemented the exhibition . Money raised from the sales of the book has also been donated to the museum for the conservation of the negatives.
The combined funding will enable the negatives to be cleaned, scanned and stored safely. A group of museum volunteers have been trained to undertake the conservation by Sarah Allen, a photographic conservator living in Frome. The volunteer group includes Steve Francis who rescued the negatives when the Singer factory site was being relocated. The conservation work will start as soon as it is safe to do so. Eventually you will be able to view them on our Catalogue (see below).
The Cockey Story
When we reopen our first exhibition will be looking at the Cockey family from the 18th Century onwards. A truly fascinating exhibition of local history, it will highlight the immense contribution that the Cockey family have made to Frome and surrounding areas. Find out too about their connections with the United States and Australia.
The Cockey name has been prominent in Frome history since 1682. The family were influential in clock-making, bell-casting, as iron founders and agricultural engineers.
Lewis Cockey was an active member of the town and a church warden but it was his eldest son Edward who formed Edward Cockey and Sons in 1819 when their main business was focussed on an ambitious range of iron and brass castings including street furniture, bollards, drain covers and parts for the newly invented street gas lighting. This diversified into gas production, purifiers, gas holders, scrubbers and condensers, enabling Cockey to produce and supply gas lighting to Frome as early as the 1830s. The family quickly became proficient in gas engineering and safety and by 1851 employed 76 people.
The beloved streetlamps that are unique to Frome today and referred to as ‘Our Cockey Lamps’ were created with the advent of electricity in 1904 when the existing gas lamp standards were converted and adapted with JW Singer & Sons’ Art Nouveau leaf designs.
Also in 1904 10 Arc Lamps were erected on Portway, Badcox, Bath Street and North Parade. Little is known about the design or the fate of these lamps – if anyone has any photographs or information please contact the Museum.
There are between 70 and 80 Cockey Lamps left and many are in a sad state of repair. Many are not listed and those outside conservation areas are at great risk of removal. They are disappearing at an alarming rate as Frome develops. With the support of Frome Town Council, The Frome Society for Local Study and the tireless contributions of volunteers, the Museum is hoping to embark on a project with Iron Art of Bath who will provide training and expert advice on how to survey, retain and repair the remaining lamps.
Also on show in a separate exhibition will be block instruments and track tokens as used by signalmen in the 19th century on the Somerset and Dorset Railway.
Frome Heritage Museum welcomes school and other group visits, throughout the year. However, to avoid disappointment and make the most of your visit we must ask you to contact us in advance by phone (+44 (0)1373 454611) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Frome Heritage Museum is located in the centre of the town in our historic listed
building built for the Frome Literary and Scientific Institution.
- We have fascinating collections of local, regional or even national importance. The two galleries (entered off North Parade) have regularly changing exhibitions and displays of a wide range of local history.
- There is a shop
The Library/Archive is open to researchers by appointment throughout the year. Researchers are asked to email, telephone or write to arrange an appointment and also give brief details of their research. This will allow our volunteers to locate relevant documents and photographs in advance of your visit. In line with policy at most archives today charges are levied for photocopies and other services. Details are available on request.
The Museum and Library is run entirely by volunteers and we receive no support from the local authorities. Please help to keep admission free by making a donation – £2 is suggested.
We are very grateful for donations of material which relate to the history of Frome and the surrounding parishes but please contact us in advance so appropriate arrangements can be made for your visit.