Pass through the shop and step back in time to our Heritage museum, which is free to enter!
‘Very interesting – a right treasure trove!’ C. family, Gloucester.
In 1829, or slightly earlier (George IV), John Banks opened his tin smithy business in the rear of our shop. This was a separate building and the shop in front was opened in 1836 (William IV) with a plumbers workshop added.
Originally this was a three storey building, however, the roof was in a state of disrepair in the 1950s when the workshop was finally closed so the top storey was removed and a flat roof put on. There is no insulation nor heating which means the temperature will drop in the colder months.
The two buildings were separate until the late 1960s. It was then that the long forgotten well was discovered and opened up. This would have provided the drinking water for the properties in the shop yard.
In 2010, we realised that we needed space to put things in an emergency. During the flooding of 2009, there had been no room to put items upstairs due to a build up of paperwork, broken carriage lamps and other such accumulation. So in 2010, Vanessa and Ken took matters in hand to sift through the first floor. Some items were sold, others retained and the local archives took interesting paperwork for their records.
It took some time to identify and label the items found in the workshop, bearing in mind, there was nearly 200 years of history to delve through. We have left the workshop and office as if the workers have just put down pen or hammer and left. It is as authentic as possible and will evoke memories of times gone by.
In 2011, the public were allowed through the rear glass doors for the first time on a regular basis.
On the ground floor can be found old school photographs, the well, antique garden tools, the Atco car – a 1939 petrol driven car made as a trainer car for children, one of only 200 sold together with other car memorabilia. A large collection of locks and keys from padlocks to plate locks, penny in the slot toilet locks to police cell locks adorn the stair case.
Upstairs the office has the original sit up and beg desks, with high stools and different eras of typewriters, together with advertisements and paperwork, while the oil painting of John Banks looks on. There is also a school desk from Cockermouth Grammar School with seat attached. Children are welcome to try it out and write with chalk on the blackboard provided.
The upstairs is dominated by the tin smithy and plumber’s workshop. A massive workbench under six windows contains the tools of the trade, bench vices, hammers, bending machines, anvils and more.
Antique signs, photographs and heritage items from clogs and irons, rescued from a cobblers next door in the 1960s to the handing gas fittings can be marvelled over.
Entry is free; there is a visitor’s book and donation box. The donations from this box go to help support the business. Open Mon – Sat 9.30am – 4.00pm. Parties by prior arrangement. Great for children and adults. Dogs are welcome in both shop & museum.