Founded and opened in October 2011, following many comments from Shropshire residents who felt that there wasn’t as much variety in Ironbridge since the old Antiques centre closed down. The idea of mixing Antiques, Arts & Crafts under the same roof came from Donna Byard (although some said it would never work!) and the opportunity came along to set up in a lovely old victorian building at Merrythough Village which used to be part of the coalbrookdale foundry.
To add to the experience we wanted to provide a tea room serving specialist teas and locally made cakes to make the customer experience even better for our visitors, particularly in the summer months as we have developed an area overlooking the River Severn so our customers can enjoy a nice pot of tea with stunning river views.
This part of the business is ever expanding following requests from both our regular and tourist customers.
Since then we have never looked back, and based on feedback from customers- they love it!
Our business philosophy for continous improvement means that there is always something going on with regular improvements and changes to keep things fresh for our customers who are both locals (of which we have many regulars) and tourists during the peak season.
The centre is run on a daily basis by Donna Byard – the boss ( or she thinks she is!) and Nigel Byard – the boss (or he thinks he is!) who also has a full time “proper” job so will be found there helping (and organising) most weekends.
Nigel is the one who does all of the website stuff, Facebook posts and Twitter tweets, apologies in advance, and is likely to be found hovering around the entrance door saying Hi to folk as they come in unless he’s making tea, washing up or sweeping the floors!
Both having previous experience in retail we never stop trying to improve the offer to our customers and have invested significantly year on year including another revamp of our Riverside Tea Room to make it what it is today!