Narberth Museum – new life at the old Bond

mimeThe large Narberth Museum collection returned to its new home in the converted Bonded Stores in Church Street Narberth in the summer of 2012.

Narberth Museum is proud to be a finalist in the Artfund Museum of the Year Award 2013. “A little gem of a museum, a small, delicate, terraced temple to the past in an old market town” – Tristram Hunt MP., a judge for the Museum of the Year Award.

Museum staff and volunteers had spent eight long years campaigning and fundraising to be able to go ahead with the conversion of the former James Williams Limited bonded warehouse that had been gifted to the Museum by the late Miss Lee Davies of the former company.

Successful bids to Heritage Lottery Fund, Aggregates Levy and Welsh Assembly Government had finally enabled the scheme to proceed.


Although not a listed building, “The Bond” as it is affectionately known locally is a rare example of 19th century industrial architecture in the town and we treated it with all the care and respect that a listed building would deserve. The Bond with its robust stone walls and barred windows had been created to keep people out for it would have been stacked high with barrels of duty free whisky and rum. Entry was through the large double doors with a double padlock latch, one key for the owner and one for the revenue. We now had to invite people in without loss to the solid character of the original building.

The design scheme aimed to preserve and repair where possible and to ensure that the skeleton of the robust industrial structure remained the prominent feature in the finished building. To this aim, all new work is unashamedly modern, from the playful waveform new entrance wing to the crisp lines of the glazed partitions and staircase all designed to complement and contrast with solidity of the Bond itself. The new walls of the ground floor interior reflect the display boards in the museum itself above by virtue of their bright white straight lines disconnected from the limed walls of the old building. Glass screens and panels allow views of the iron structures that held the weight of the barrels above.


By carefully inserting a new fire escape staircase into the building we were able to achieve an open plan central core from which it is possible to see the full extent of the building interior and move with ease between the various activities accommodated in the building. Access for all is available throughout the scheme, a platform lift allows access to the museum display level on the first floor.<e/m>


Entry to the museum is through the new shop and café for commercial function and importantly through the old Bond padlock doors. The central circulation spine of the building gives access to the research room, artefact store, community room and associated central services. The design allows the community room to be operated as a separate entity for evening use.

The first floor is given over in its entirety to the museum display including areas for education and children’s activities which play an important role in the philosophy of this local museum.

The building has sophisticated electrical and heating systems supplemented with a photovoltaic array concealed in the roof valley capable of providing 4kw of electrical power.

Project manager: Geraldine Delaney – Heritage Regeneration.
Architect: Steve Hole
Quantity Surveyor: Adrian Vasey of Downies
Structural Engineer: John Brailsford
M+E Design Engineer: Mike Sauro
Interpretive Design: Headland Design