PONTYPOOL Museum's chief has praised its “hardworking” staff as it presses ahead with a drive to attract 1,000 new members.

Museum chairman Ivor Davies MBE encouraged visitors to discover the archive collections detailing the industrial, social and cultural heritage of Torfaen.

The Pontypool Park institution has been at the centre of a membership campaign after losing £19,000 of council funding.

It hopes to attract 1,000 members to make up for the shortfall, with just under 400 already heeding pleas to sign up.

Mr Davies, a former Mayor of Torfaen, indicated the area should not take the museum for granted.

Mr Davies, 78, said: “I still don't think people realise what the museum has to offer.

“There are archive records from days gone by, and courses for schools. The museum trust has been very successful."

He said the the independent site, which boasted 30,000 visitors last year, was experiencing challenging times at the moment, which called for unconventional fundraising methods.

“Fortunately the staff are excellent and they are hardworking," he added. "The majority of the work is done by volunteers we are very grateful for."

Mr Davies said he was brought up with the valley's industrial heritage.

“I come from a mining family and my father was a miner," he added.

“People have got to realise that hard times went on before, so we can have a good life, even though things are hard with cuts.

“We have a lot to offer in the borough.”

Pontypool Museum membership fees are £15 per year or £20 for a family.

Business, institution or club fees cost £60. Gift aiding is available and gives the trust an extra 25p from the government for every £1 donated.

Membership benefits include free entry, 10 per cent off selected items in the shop, newsletters and voting rights at the trust AGM.

For more information call 01495 752036 or email pontypoolmuseum@hotmail.com