Any late autumn day that is unexpectedly bright and sunny has a special poignancy to it when you know that soon its damp and fruitful air will be replaced by storms and biting cold. So today, which was bright and clear with a new washed look about it, was a real bonus. After a couple of hours in the office at Dinefwr I set off for Laugharne to see a new group. I have another group in Llanmiloe which is beyond Laugharne and can never drive through without stopping briefly to look at the little creek in front of the picturesque Castle.
Last time I drove through I noticed a new museum had been established in an old tin garage and occupied my driving time wondering about what was in it and what were the people who started such a venture like. So I was particularly pleased when I had an email from Matthew, the grandson of my Llanmiloe group’s contact, asking to meet up and see if there was anything EW could do to help with the project in Laugharne.
I prepared myself by having a look at the web site however the museum still surprised me. It is a little bigger than it looks on the outside, although not much, however it does have a garden area at the back with what, having wandered in on my own, I took to be an old chalet of considerable vintage. That was my first surprise as they had actually built it only last year, like most of their project from largely recycled materials.
Personally I think they could do a roaring trade in back to basics holidays in it but they have it kitted out as it would have been in the war. It has speakers hidden in the fabric of the building and in the Anderson shelter outside and war time planes can be heard flying overhead in a most realistic stereo fashion. You even get the feeling up through your feet as you stand on the veranda looking for the planes.
In the main shed they have a variety of war time memorabilia from Britain, America, Germany and a little from Japan, as well as a 1935 Austin car. They do not glorify war but aim to remember what happened in WWII. The space has been used well and it does not feel cluttered. I was very taken by how much more alive the manikins seemed than those in many museums. They start with ordinary shop dummies and work on them to get rid of the boy band good looks. And they certainly succeed with great artistry as these men look like they may well have been ‘going through the wars’.
This summer they were the most popular attraction in Carmarthenshire on Trip Advisor and if everyone who comes through the door gets the same warm welcome, knowledge and enthusiasm as I did from Matthew I am not surprised.
And what sort of people have set up this quirky attraction? I only met the one of them and saw a photo of another but, while they are, as I suspected, men, they are both young and have a breadth of other skills such as marketing and links into the performing arts which have enabled them to expand into filming and live performances. And can EW help? Well perhaps in the future if they do a war time garden or are successful in getting a lease for the land that backs on to their site. We can’t fund what they are currently doing but I was able to go over a few points on land agreements and how they could be constituted and if I see funding that may suit them I shall certainly be passing it on to them to help them take their dream, already a reality, even further. http://www.tinshedexperience.co.uk/