Sometimes less is more. But not in the Land of Lost Content, a museum dedicated to British popular culture in sleepy Craven Arms. Its three floors are stuffed full of everyday household items collected from the last century. A less kind description might liken it to a hoarder’s house but whilst it might look haphazard the owner, Stella Mitchell, has collated her life’s collection into 32 themed areas.
No photographs are allowed in the museum so I’ve chosen to describe 10 parts of the collection that stood out for me. The museum is so full of memorabilia that if you visit you probably won’t even see these. Yet I defy any adult not to walk into this museum and immediately recognise something from their childhood!
1. Scratchy toilet paper
A bowl full of the awful scratchy stuff I remember from school days in the 1980s. I never thought I’d see this again. Certainly not missed but compellingly tactile.
2. 1960s Kenwood chef food mixer
A design classic. I’ve always wanted a Kenwood Chef, but cannot justify the outlay. Out of interest I looked up the model they have in the museum and you can still buy restored versions today – for more than the cost of a brand new one!
3. Woolworth’s corner
A shrine to Woolworths with closing down posters, a child’s top from the sale and newspapers with headlines announcing the demise of Woollies.
4. Sinclair C5
One man’s view of our future transport; which didn’t quite go to plan. Attached to the ceiling above the stairs. Could you imagine a world where we all drove C5s?
5. Politically incorrect items
A signed Jimmy Saville photograph, Robinson’s golly models and Hitler youth memorabilia. Some may question the continued inclusion of items no longer considered acceptable. But to exclude these would be to deny the past. Better we reflect and appreciate that society has moved on.
There’s an entire section dedicated to sweets. A half full jar of Roses, a cutout cardboard Milk Tray man and packets of Spangles. There’s even a modern One Direction themed sweet bag. I’m sure it will soon blend in with the rest of the exhibits.
7. Christmas decorations
I’m so used to modern decorations that I had forgotten how bad they were when I was a child. Paper chains, green tissue paper bells and spindly artificial Christmas trees.
8. Mobile telephone from the 1980s
It really was a brick. And only mobile in that it was physically possible to carry it and the battery pack if you had strong arms.
9. Stuffed Jack Russell
Realistically lifelike sitting on a chair. Evidently it arrived in a big box in the post one day. Whilst I’m tempted to send the museum some of my 1980s items, who would send a dead pet through the post?!
It’s often technology that ages the fastest and this is proved perfectly in the museum. A Nintendo gameboy, ZX spectrum, black and white TVs, typewriters; all cutting edge at one point but dated and near enough obsolete now.
As you can see from the above review I was primarily drawn to those items I remember from my childhood. There’s plenty (understatement) to see in the Land of Lost Content museum for all ages although younger children might find some of the dolls and mannequins scary. Our older children enjoyed it as they like to take every opportunity to remind us how old we are and this provided them with plenty of ammunition!
- The Land of Lost Content museum in Craven Arms, Shropshire is open daily except Wednesday from 9am-5pm from February to November. It is closed in December and January. You’ll struggle with a pushchair or wheelchair as there is very little room between exhibits but there is a stairlift between floors. An adult tickets costs £5, a child’s ticket £2.50.