I had my first invite as deputy mayor last week, to the official opening of the Blaenavon Community Museum in its new home at the Workmen's Hall. The Hall itself is a gorgeous building, opened in 1895 and still in active community use. The Blaenavon Community Heritage and Cordell Museum - to give it its full title - originally opened in 2002 in the bottom of the library building on Lion Street.
When the library relocated to the Heritage Centre, the Workmen's Hall seemed a natural move for the community museum, as closely entwined with Blaenavon's industrial and social heritage as it is. The volunteer run museum showcases the lives of the men and women who made the construction of the hall possible, and just last month was awarded Full Accreditation Status from the Arts Council and Welsh Government.
On Friday we celebrated with cake:
A privilege to formally open the Blaenavon Community Museum at the Workmens' Hall. Great to see @jess__powell. pic.twitter.com/SQhg6iRORn— Nick Thomas-Symonds (@NickTorfaenMP) 3 June 2016
(Luckily Nick thought to take a photo, I was too busy eating mine!)
The museum collection has been cherry picked to fill the display space, with plans to change exhibits from time to time. There are silver cups from the chapels, and theatre programmes and tickets for shows put on in the Hall in the 1950s. Ornately carved chairs gifted to the Workmen's Hall and a huge white ensign flag a Blaenavon man managed to keep hidden during his time in a Japanese POW camp.
I particularly loved the section on the lives of children in Blaenavon. There are old toys and plenty of old school photos - complete with the obligatory blinkers and blurrers - above an old school desk. There is even a 'well used' school cane!
Further along the corridor a separate room houses the Alexander Cordell collection. Cordell's desk is set up with lots of his personal effects, and it's really cool to see the scene where bestsellers were written.
If you want to check out the museum for yourself, it's open 10am - 4pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 10am - 1pm on Saturday. Entrance is £2 for adults and free for under 16s. For more information check out the museum's Visit Blaenavon page, or give them a like on Facebook.