Quirky, unique and perhaps some may say a little odd but the Bakelite Museum in Somerset is a little gem of English eccentricity.
Patrick Cook the owner and collector of the thousands of artefacts made from the first form of plastic even found him self listed in a book entitled ‘Dull Men of Great Britain’.
Something that he found amusing but he is perfect example of British eccentricity and yet a fountain of knowledge on a subject that would other wise perhaps be lost to history.
Who ever knew that they even made coffins in the material?
He even has a near perfect example in his museum and one hopes that it will still be there should he die?
A rural farmhouse accessed along a narrow track at Williton will get you to his home and museum at Orchard Mill in Bridge Street.
On arrival an East German produced Trabant car could make you think you were in the wrong location but it appears that body panels of Bakelite were used in it.
Once inside the museum the sheer variety of items in the collection is truly astounding.
Following its discovered by Leo Baekeland in 1907 it took a while to become the mass-market material but by the early 1920’s Bakelite was starting to be used everywhere.
An excellent electrical insulator it was used for switches and light fittings and was most notably used in the iconic art deco radio cases that are extremely collectable still today.
Around the home Bakelite was used in heaters, and in many domestic tools such as vacuum cleaners, hair dryers and tea making machine called a ‘Teasmaid’.
Toys, toast racks egg-cups, salt and pepper shakers in a whole host of home and kitchen items sometimes in very vivid colours came along too.
Telephones were popular black, red, green but the posh and most expensive ones would certainly by the white version.
A very cheeky radio was produced showing a woman with on, off and tuning dial strategically placed on her chest!
One car company even for a while produced bicycles made from the material and he even has several examples of those too!
Larger uses were found with even Patrick recently designing a small cute caravan in an art deco style that can be towed behind a car.
With a still ever expanding collection Patrick could always use more space to display even yet more items that sometimes just turn up in the post!
I do recommend a visit to see and learn more about his collection and meet a man who is far from boring and one of Britain’s quirky characters who’s hobby got out of control but in doing so saved a part of the nation’s social and industrial history for us all!