The Robert Owen Museum, Newtown

The Robert Owen Museum, Broad Street, Newtown

This museum celebrates the life and achievements of social reformer Robert Owen (1771-1858). It is housed in an Arts & Crafts building completed in 1903 as a Free Library. This gave all local residents access to books and newspapers, regardless of their wealth.

The building was partly funded by the Co-operative Union in memory of Robert Owen. Most of the funding came from public donations. The site, formerly occupied by an ironmonger’s shop, was donated by Mrs Arbuthnot of Newtown Hall. This fulfilled a pledge made by her predecessor at the hall, Sarah Brisco, who had commissioned the architects.

The sections to the left and right of the central corner part have different styling (notice the tiling on the upper storey in Severn Street, for example). The reason for this is reputedly that different people involved in the Free Library project couldn’t agree on the architectural details!

Since 1983 the building has been home to the only museum devoted to Robert Owen. He was born in Broad Street, Newtown, where his father was a saddler. He became co-owner of textile mills at New Lanark, Scotland, where the facilities embodied his theories on improving the lives of working people through co-operative living. Britain’s co-operative movement is based on some of his principles.

Most of the museum’s exhibits were collected in the 1920s and are directly associated with him. They include some of his furniture and various objects from New Lanark including children’s uniform buttons and a “silent monitor”, one of the wooden colour-coded blocks which showed how well behaved each mill worker was every day. Follow the link below for more information about the museum and Robert Owen.

The building also houses the offices of Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council.

Postcode: SY16 2BB    View Location Map

Website of the Robert Owen Museum

Website of Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council