Life is full of tiny delights.
Newtown, a town of tiny delights, my journey through Wales by bike took me there.
None more delightful and surprising than the branch of WH Smiths, its exterior adorned with the most beautiful of signs, tiles and lamps.
Curious, curiously I explored further, the porch housed a newspaper and magazine stall with further tiled images.
These tiles were made by Carter & Co. at their pottery works in Poole, Dorset in the 1920s. Commissioned by the retailer, they were installed in the entrance ways of a number of its branches. They were intended to advertise the wide selection of books and other items on sale, however their distinctive Art Deco style and the scenes depicted also expose a great deal about society at that time.
In subsequent decades, particularly during periods of refurbishment from the 1960s, many shops lost their decorative panels, either being removed or covered over. Only seven branches of WHSmith are known to have their tile panels intact, with a few surviving in private collections. Many tiles were rescued by WHSmith and these can now be seen in a museum housed in the Newtown branch in Powys.
The staff were typically helpful and accommodating – directing me to the Museum upstairs – just pull the rope to one side.
5 thoughts on “WH Smiths – Newtown Powys”
I am from Newtown and I am championing a Heritage Hub for Newtown.
As you point out in your blog Newtown has some amazing understated heritage. The WHSmiths Museum is closed because they say they don’t have the staff to keep it open. I have just set up a Robert Owen Birthplace Blog and hope to spend a bit more time trying to raise awareness of our local history.
I have recently joined Newtown Local History Group and have become their Secretary, I was wondering if I could have your permission to share the use of your photographs for our Newtonian Journal and it would be wonderful to write a complete story on the WHSmiths Museum.
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thanks for your message – of course you can share any of the content, it would be a pleasure.
Sad to hear that the museum is closed, when I visit last year I was just allowed up unsupervised, but it seemed clear that there was little work by way of maintenance for the displays.
Good luck with the Journal and Local History Group.
Thank you Steve, love your photographs would you have any more of Newtown ie the Robert Owen Museum or Pryce Jones Buildings. Can I have your full name to apply to these pictures courtesy of Steve ….
Steve Marland is my full name – sadly I have no further photographs as cycling from Llanidloes to Shrewsbury on a tour from Fishguard, so very much on the move! Glad that you like the pictures.