Pontypool Museum reveals its own history

Free Press Series: Old picture of Pontypool museum when it used to be a stable block (7940340) Old picture of Pontypool museum when it used to be a stable block (7940340)

THE history of Pontypool has been recorded and made public by the town’s museum, but many people do not realise the story of the heritage building itself.

Volunteers at the museum have set a target of recruiting 1,000 new members in a bid to help make up a £19,000 cash shortfall in its budget, to help keep the museum open.

According to the book, The History of Torfaen Museum Trust, by WG Lloyd, Pontypool was without a permanent museum 40 years ago.

District councillors thought the late Grade II-listed Georgian stables next to the former Pontypool Park House were suitable, comprising the stable blocks around the quadrangle, the coach-houses and the circular feature in the courtyard of a horse trough.

The site was chosen as it was central within Pontypool and its shape made it possible for a variety of exhibitions, but it would be a huge undertaking as the building was in a terrible state.

The project was expected to be completed by 1976, with costs of £46,000, but further renovation problems arose.

A visit from the Prince of Wales in 1975 helped to boost public support, but, due to lack of funding, work slowed.

In 1978, the museum was transferred to a new Torfaen Museum Trust that pushed forward the renovation, and the museum finally opened in 1981.

In the 1990s the focus of how to make profits was centred on the courtyard and a canopy was fitted to allow for outdoor events.

A new curator arrived in 2001, Deborah Wildgust, who still works at the museum, and established the Barker Gallery and the exhibition of Pontypool Japanware.

But once again, financial difficulties have threatened the museum’s future.

Mrs Wildgust said: “To lose it would be a disaster as it has always been a much valued community resource.”

Pontypool Museum Membership fees are £15 per year or £20 for a family. Business, institution or club fees cost £60.

Call 01495 752036 or email ponty poolmuseum@hotmail.com

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