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.