Llangollen Museum is a small, independent, volunteer run Museum. A member of AIMS and an accredited museum, we are proud of what we have achieved over the last 10 years to help people find out about the heritage of this unique area. We have a large archive of local photos, documents, reminiscences and artefacts donated or loaned by local residents. Most of these have been made available to view on line on our own web-site www.llangollenmuseum.org.uk and also on the People’s Collection Wales website in order to ensure that our collection is shared with the whole community (and beyond). We share our fascination with the history of the town not just within the Museum but also with outreach work with residents of the area, local schools, family history seekers and people from all over the world. Our gallery area welcomes local artists and photographers to display their work for a month.
Recently, funded by the HLF and CyMAL we have been delighted to be able to make even more items accessible to the public by taking part in the “Sharing the Treasures” programme in partnership with National Museum Wales. This has enabled items excavated at nearby Valle Crucis Abbey and Eliseg’s Pillar to return to Llangollen for the first time, in the case of some items, for over 150 years.
Over the past centuries there have been a number of excavations at the Abbey and the Pillar. Some of the items found have disappeared, probably forever, into the mists of time. Some of the items found have stayed in the area (some are in the Llangollen Museum collection) and other important items are cared for by curators at National Museum Cardiff. Now this programme provides an opportunity for these items to be on display for a period in their home town. On display for the first time are finds from the recent archeological digs by Chester and Bangor Universities at Eliseg’s Pillar.
The Museum has undergone an improvement in security and had new display cabinets for these special items to go on display, but has also introduced a little bit of magic as local artist Karl Young has recreated part of the Chapter House of Valle Crucis Abbey in the Museum, to provide a fitting environment for the first of hopefully many visiting exhibitions.
Part of the programme will also be to encourage schools from across North East Wales and over the border to visit the new exhibition, the Abbey and the Pillar and learn a bit more about the heritage of these important sites and how they fit into the history of the local area, Wales and Great Britain.
We are also grateful to the Federation and the Association for Independent Museums for recent grants which have enabled us to employ two contractors to help attract more volunteers and to put in place procedures that will make the Museum more sustainable. Their tasks will include, amongst others, maintaining our accreditation, implementing our education and audience development plans, increasing Museum operations that generate income, installing more interactive elements for children and improving the visitor experience.
For day to day operations the museum relies on income from the small shop area and fundraising, as well as donations left in the donations box and gifts from local organisations such as the recent donation of £500 by Llangollen Rotary. The work of the Museum could not, however, take place without the generous contributions from the local community of their precious knowledge, artefacts and photographs, nor without the valuable time and expertise offered by each trustee and curator.
Tony has spent hours of his spare time building a model of Plas Newydd House and its lovely Gardens in Llangollen. Presented to the Museum this has enhanced a display about the Ladies of Llangollen, which consists not only of their history on display boards, pictures and pottery items, but also the original stones from their memorial.
A collection of old Llangollen newspapers (The Tuesday Review) loaned by Hanes, the local history society, inspired Peter Jones (trustee and curator at the museum) to scan each of these and others offered by residents of the town and make them available to the public via the People’s Collection Wales. The Museum also has microfilm copies of the Llangollen Advertiser from 1869 to 1948. Alongside the National Library’s “Welsh Newpapers on line” collection these make an amazing resource for all.
Some of our most precious contributions come from the memories of local people (some recorded onto two DVD’s)
Eleanor is over 90 years old and recounts one of her precious memories to one of the Museum Volunteers:
“My family ran the Britannia Arms during the second World War. I was standing our-side one late evening when I realized that a plane was circling again and again and very low, and I thought he was in trouble and looking for somewhere to land. I went and found one of the officers from Bryntisilio Hall who was having a drink at the bar. He listened to what I had to say and then rang the Hall. The next thing that happened was like magic. Lights were switched on, all angled in the same direction and they lay down a path towards Brymbo the nearest airfield, for the pilot to follow. He landed safely and sent a message of thanks saying that the fuel he had had left on landing would not have even filled a cigarette lighter.”
Over the next few years we will share in the remembrances of World War 1. We await news from applications to the HLF as to whether we will be able to carry out the projects that we hope to put into action involving local military enthusiasts, the community and local schools.
Last week Betty walked into the museum with a dried and pressed poppy sent home from the front line in 1916 to her mother. What a treasure to share!