Today it is August 2016 but this afternoon it was the 1950s. I have lived in Denbigh for the past 10 years and have spent 41 of my 46 years living in the Vale Of Clwyd. I consider myself to be interested in history, having been Head Custodian at Denbigh Castle in the early 1990s. I am also quite proud of my little corner of the Principality and am a keen supporter of local businesses and the like.
When I was a Custodian at Denbigh Castle, The North Wales Hospital was still open. It’s close proximity to the Castle meant we were a magnet to the suicidal escapees and would often have phone calls asking us to look out for people. The residents of Denbigh had free entry to the Castle and it became a magnet for young people and a few disturbed individuals. As the Custodian I was a captive audience and all kinds of individuals came to while away their days talking to me.
On the other side of The hospital was a farmstead called Cae Dai. This was the home of Sparrow Harrison, grandson of two Generals and educated privately where he met and became best friends with the much missed DJ John Peel. So different to myself the daughter of a bus driver and a caretaker. But similar to me Sparrow found that people used to visit Cae Dai from the hospital too.
I subsequently became a Social Worker. Sparrow also became a Social Worker of sorts. He set up the Cae Dai Trust to offer support and a second chance to the former patients of the North Wales Hospital.
Alongside this venture Sparrow set up a 1950s museum which houses all kinds of memorabilia from the era. It was to this museum we went today.
Cae Dai is on the Nantglyn road just outside the Medieval Market Town of Denbigh in North Wales. It sits in the shadow of the North Wales Hospital. You follow a steep dirt track down to the farm and park your car outside a non description modern building. This is a TARDIS. It houses so much more on the inside than it seems on the outside and it is most definitely a time machine.
From the moment you step over the threshold everything is of the 50s and 60s. There is a cafe area complete with a Jukebox in the corner and mannequins dressed in colourful teddy boy jackets. Film idols adorn the walls. It looks like the kids have just left. There is a display of Coronation memorabilia and a cabinet full of photographic equipment. Books, typewriters, toys even a Punch and Judy Booth complete with puppets. A small area is given over to kitchen equipment and various irons and every available space has old bottles packages and tins. It is all encompassing and you can’t shake the feeling that the people have only just left and if you wait a little they will return.
In the next room there is a bar in the corner a posh cocktail bar. Round the corner there is a 1950s living room set up complete with a programme on Churchills resignation that plays on an unbelievably small Television in a large wooden cabinet. Books and magazines are on the coffe table and a radiogramme sits quietly in the corner. This fascinates me as my parents bought a radiogramme in the 1980s which became our hi fi of the time and led to my lifelong obsession with 78rpm records.
Then in the next room is an area dedicated to radios, reel to reel tape players, record players and radiogrammes. The radios are explained with neatly typed information and you can almost hear and smell the valves as you walk around.
There ar vehicles too. The Ford Fiesta once owned by Christine Keeler from the Profumo Scandal a beautiful pink Cadilac and much more. There is a whole shop set up and also a a fabulous tobacco and smoking section with an impressive collection of lighters donated to the museum by other collectors.
The 1050s Museum is a gem that cannot be taken in on one visit and the informative guided tour by Sparrow Harrison is a delight. He regains you with tales of the 50s and his work at the Kray Tepwins Night Club and his prized possession the Lordy used in The Great Train Robbery.
We left the museum after a couple of hours and returned to the 21st Century. But I know I will be back, there is so much to see, so much to experience.
The 1950s Museum, Cae Dai, Nantglyn Road, Denbigh
Open 11-4 Admission £5 http://www.50smuseum.uk