The Original Tin Shed Experience (The History Shed Experience C.I.C.), Laugharne

Must see · Military Museum · Specialty Museum
Tin Shed Experience houses a collection of artifacts from 1914-1945.The museum and gardens also double as a location for filming and as a performance venue.

The concept came to be through a mixture of elements. Redundancy, hard work, determination, community spirit, great support and of course Tin!

The creators Andrew Isaacs and Seimon Pugh-Jones worked together in the Ministry of Defence establishment in Pendine for many years during the late 70s early 80s. Andrew worked in the armoury whereas Seimon was in the photographic department. Cuts in the MOD led to subsequent redundancies with Andrew and Seimon being two such casualties. Undeterred by this setback, Andrew started his own successful cleaning company and Seimon’s photographic skills led him to work in the TV & Film industries. Seimon has worked on HBO’s award winning miniseries ‘Band of Brothers’ and Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’ to name but a few. He was also the staff photographer for the American magazine, ‘Armchair General’ where he scripted and shot much of the re-enacted scenes of war from a multitude of different time periods that littered the pages of the magazine. Both have always had a love of nostalgia and history, Andrew collects items from the American old west and even spent his summers as a ranch hand in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Seimon has a great love of the 1940s and the war era often visiting famous battlegrounds in Normandy and the rest of Europe and has accrued a vast collection of items. In 2009 they had a chance meeting in a local supermarket and got talking, eventually leading them to stage a 1940s themed dance backed by an exhibition of Seimon’s collection in Andrew’s hometown of Laugharne.

Andrew explains, ‘the exhibition went so well we thought there may be space in the township for something more permanent. Laugharne is certainly a town quirky enough for it to work in!’

The location would be Andrew’s large tin sheeted shed. Andrew goes on, ‘both myself and Seimon were stood in this dilapidated tin building full of cleaning equipment and materials when it seemed to spark an idea off in our heads almost at once. We thought, it would be great to restore the tin garage to look like it originally did when built by my father pre war.’ He goes on, ‘from there the idea grew and it became the perfect location to transform into a museum.’

The ‘Tin Shed’ was originally built in 1933 by Andrew’s father as a garage and cost £50 to construct from second hand materials. During the war it was used as a place to store and service vehicles from the Ministry of Defense and after the war returned to civillian uses including services on the motorcycles of the great Bob Berry who used it as a base for repairs for his many bikes during his motor cycle world record attempts at neighboring Pendine sands. When the garage was inherited by Andrew he used it as storage space and also as a stable for his horse, Blaze. The building was in a bit of a sorry state and would need a great deal of renovation work in order to transform it into a museum.

Seimon informs, ‘after numerous meetings with various bodies a small match funded grant from the Welsh Assembly Government was secured. Pretty soon though it dawned on us that the money would not go all that far so we turned to looking at ways in which we could use recycled materials to help us continue with the restoration and set about sourcing the right materials to keep the building in keeping with the original structure. There has been great support from the community with donations of second hand zinc sheeting coming from local farmers and other bits and pieces coming from here and there. Its estimated that a near 70% of the building has recycled elements. Through the skills, patience and understanding of our friend and builder Stephen Hughes we have managed to create something we feel is quite special.

The small team of volunteers were also very keen to help educate the younger generation and hope to highlight the effects of war on everyday life in wartime Britain. Andrew explains, “We specifically wanted the project to be educational, picking up on the national curriculum and tailoring some of the exhibit specifically for schools.”

The museum opened in June 2011 and saw 1700 people come to see and learn about the various exhibits. Seimon proclaims ‘Visitors can expect to spend a lot more time in the museum than they initially would have expected. Part of our name is ‘Experience’ we want our visitors to leave us knowing that they are very important to our progression. We want them to share their recollections or their father’s, mother’s, grandparent’s recollections of the 1940s so that they may be retold to the new generations ensuring the stories are kept alive and can learn from them. He goes on ‘Most visitors expect to spend 10-15 minutes walking around a cold and faceless museum when they often stay for an hour to an hour and a half. Why? Well we love people, we are very much about engaging our visitors, giving all guests personal guided tours, explaining in depth about items, informing them of local history, good places to eat in the town, where to visit. I guess we are kind of a museum/information centre. We also love learning, after all, an ‘Experience’ should not be one sided.’

When the museum closes for the winter we work on various other projects under the umbrella of the Tin Shed. We are very interested in the Arts and music and also charity fundraising. We have staged a few musical evenings with local musicians helping us raise money for local charities and organisations. We were fortunate to supply and consult on the operation of vintage camera equipment for ITVs Christmas drama ‘Just Henry’ and this has been inspiration for one of our current projects.

We are midway through building what could be used as a small film set at the rear of the museum. It contains an original Anderson shelter that has been dug in by hand, a working man’s tin cottage complete with authentic interior. We would actively encourage film makers to get in touch to see what can be done with us as a location.’

Recent projects include BBC's film production 'A Poet In New York' and The National Theatre Of Wales/BBC 'Llareggub'.

Seimon continues, “Because the concept of the museum has changed somewhat since its origin we are hoping to diversify into staging collectors and retro and vintage weekends which would see us using the Millennium Memorial Hall adjacent to us and see us bringing a more varied crowd into the town. This will then, hopefully see our visitors utilising other local business and in turn help the local economy which is a major part of the Tin Shed concept.”

He goes on, ‘Local heritage to us is of course of a great importance and always looking to highlight it's importance to our visitors.
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The Original Tin Shed Experience (The History Shed Experience C.I.C.) reviews

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281 reviews
  • Could not review place as when we were in Laugharne for a week it was closed,and have to say it looked a bit neglected.  more »
  • We come to Laugharne roughly every two years and have visited the Tin Shed each time since its opening. We walked up to visit last week only to find it closed with a blue van blocking the...  more »
  • Take the opportunity to visit if you are in the area as it's a good snapshot of a period of history not seen in in this way in other ww locations. Make sure you give yourself enough time.  more »
  • It was a fantastic time at the Tin shed. The guys there will take you through time and you get to appreciate the change in times and season. An amazing time spent here with the kids.
  • A hidden gem! We thought it was a small garage but when we entered what a surprise! You walk into a large barn with displays and through to a garden which houses an Anderson Shelter and a small cottage, filled with period household items. It was like being at my gran's! In what is an old garage they have small displays of various millitary memorabilia and a fully restored military van. The volunteers are knowledgeable and more than happy to share what they know. The only funding they get is entry fees so go visit!!!!
  • Small, but perfectly formed museum, made all the better by lovely, welcoming and knowledge volunteers. Well worth visit!!
  • Great place to learn about life 1920 to 1950 in wales Run by a couple who know there stuff and interested in what you had to recall on the ers. It was like visiting an old family friend and going through memories in their garage.
  • Well worth a visit. Don't miss the music events either but bring a cushion to sit on !! 😂

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