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Former Powysland Museum & Library

A Grade II* Listed Building in Welshpool, Powys

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.6613 / 52°39'40"N

Longitude: -3.1457 / 3°8'44"W

OS Eastings: 322607

OS Northings: 307682

OS Grid: SJ226076

Mapcode National: GBR B0.5G5M

Mapcode Global: WH79P.NC8M

Entry Name: Former Powysland Museum & Library

Listing Date: 29 February 1996

Last Amended: 29 February 1996

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 16704

Building Class: Education

Location: Built around 2 sides of No 1 Salop Road, with the museum facing Salop Road, and the library facing onto Red Bank.

County: Powys

Community: Welshpool (Y Trallwng)

Community: Welshpool

Built-Up Area: Welshpool

Traditional County: Montgomeryshire

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Welshpool

Exterior

History: The Powysland Club was founded in 1867, 'for the collecting and printing (for the use of its members) of the Historical, Ecclesiastical, Genealogical, Topographical and Literary Remains of Montgomeryshire'. It acquired this site in 1873, and the museum was opened in 1874, designed by David Walker of Liverpool; it was extended in accordance with the original design in 1880. The museum was one of a very small number of similar establishments in Wales, and entertained hopes for a time of becoming a general, central museum of Welsh antiquities. From the outset it was also intended that there should not only be a public library and museum, but that there should also be a school of science and art, in association with the science and art department of the Committee on Education, South Kensington, and a School of Art was opened in 1883 (in premises to the rear of the Museum). The public library and reading room on Red Bank was added when the museum was handed over to the Corporation of Welshpool in 1887. The buildings were taken over by Powys County Council in 1974, and the collection moved to other premises in 1990.

Exterior: Museum is yellow brick with stone dressings and slate hipped gambrel roof over main block. Simpler hipped roof over right-hand wing (added in 1880). Single storeyed corridor links it with No 1 Salop Road, housing entrance: plank doorway with strap hinges in steep arch. Main block has 3 bays of blind arcading with continuous hood mould; stone shield of arms lettered 'Powysland Museum and Library' in central panel (carved by Norbury of Liverpool). Deep moulded eaves band. Slightly advanced lower wing to right, with narrow arched doorway in re-entrant angle, and arched 3-light window with transoms in advanced gable facing the street. Deep moulded eaves band. Library and reading room of 1887 to rear of No 1 Salop Road, fronting onto Red Bank (and possibly incorporating the former School of Art): Red brick with slate roof. 2 parallel gables face the street, with entrance lobby alongside to the right: arched entrance with plank door and overlight. Corporation arms and date 1887 in steep pediment over the doorway. Right hand gable has 4 stepped lancet windows with heavy stone transoms in the gable, which has stepped eaves cornice. Parallel left hand range has triple blind lancet panels and stepped eaves cornice. Doorway to right of gable, in brick pointed arch.

Interior: Museum is a simple rectangular top-lit space with 2 arched braced trusses. Lower wing has scissor-braced roof. From the main entrance, a corridor with steps connects the museum with the 2 library buildings to the rear of the site, via a gallery at the rear of the lower of the two range.

When it was established, the museum was one of only 4 or 5 other museums of its kind in Wales, and was considered to be possibly the most valuable in the principality. The buildings are a remarkable testimony to the importance of the Powysland Club, and represent an excellent example of small-scale, highly specialised building design.

References: J.D.K.Lloyd, 'The Centenary of the Powysland Club', Montgomeryshire Collections, Vol. 60, 1967-8, pp.2-6;
Ion Trant, The Changing Face of Welshpool, 1986, p.123;
Montgomeryshire Collections, Powysland Club Annual Reports, 1874 etc.;
Powysland Museum Trust Deed, Reference Collection, Newtown Library.

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