The Thomas Shop Museum re-opens 10am - 5pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Modays on Friday 1st February 2013.
Entrance to the Museum is free,
Group Bookings are welcomed and the museum can be opened specially at other times - Minimum Charge/Spend £40
Talks on the social history and a tour of the museum and galleries are also possible - Minimum Charge / Spend £40
Refreshments are available in the Engine Room Cafe
also open between 10am - 5pm.
The Thomas Shop Museum
Visiting the Thomas Shop is to indulge in nostalgia for anyone who lived through the 1970s or before. The transformation in shopping that began in the mid to late fifties was largely complete before the start of the eighties. The few exceptions, mainly hardware shops, hung on to a past that looked after customers in a way that has now become alien. Shopping changed very little, if at all, in the period between 1805 and 1958, the years when the Thomas Shop flourished. The museum aims to re-capture that period.
The counters, shelving and safe are orriginal but the floor, which had rotted away in places, had to be redone, salviging what we could and replacing, where necessary, with local timber. The problem was that Penybont, before 1960 was regularly affected by flooding when the River Ithon burst its banks, cut the corner, and went under the floor of the shop, silting it up. When we dug the floor out to remove the silt we sifted it and found lots of treasure: thimbles, clay pipes, china, scissors, etc.
The restoration of the buildings, which was to take us 10 years, started with the Shop. Until it was completed we had not anticipated that it would become a museum and central to all our activities. The builder who helped us, Marc Swan, and who did such a magnificent job, encouraged us to open it over a week-end to celebrate the restoration. That was in September 2002. Well, over 200 people came to see it and we finally knew that this would be an attraction.
When we opened it as a permanent attraction in March 2003 we were immediately overwhelmed by the interest but more particularly by the donations people start to make to the shop. It is the Thomas Shop and its diverse collection of artifacts that makes the experience that so many people seem to enjoy. Unlike many of the folk museums we encourage visitors: to enjoy being on both sides of the counter; to handle, and even try on, some of the items. Integrated into the shop are some items for sale, it is sometimes hard to distiguish which is which. We do not however sell anything 'old' as we need to feel that our many donators are confident that we value and respect their 'gifts'.
The shop itself is/was, as you will find it, a grocery store on one side and a drapery on the other. In days gone by the Thomas family as grocers were known for their blends of tea - the Meeting House had been a tea and grain warehouse, while on the drapery side they were reknowned for silks and tailoring - they had eight tailors working in the house! People were known to have travelled from as far away as Newtown for the tailoring - hence our kitchen was orriginally built on to the house as a 'tea-room'.
The Thomas Shop is yours to enjoy - we look forward to welcoming you!