Cumbrian quandary for hardware retailer

Vanessa Graham describes JB Banks & Son in Cockermouth as “an extraordinary shop”. The owner of the Cumbrian business is now facing an extraordinary dilemma – and she needs your help.

Cumbrian quandary for hardware retailer

J.B. Banks & Son is a traditional ironmongers and hardware shop with its roots firmly in the past. It opened in 1836 and still has a wealth of original features, from the mahogany counters to the 172 drawers holding varied and individual items (the drawers have labels on the back showing cost prices from the 1850s onwards) and the Victorian rolling wooden shutters; to the brass weighst and scales which are still used.

Inside, the shop is full of collections of artefacts. Miner’s lamps, carriage lamps, old tools and poacher’s paraphernalia hang from the ceiling. Antique weapons are also on view, together with cartridge boards, medals and cap badges.

Vanessa Graham has now opened a museum at the rears of the premises. This contains the shop’s Victorian tinsmithy and plumbers’ workshop, which was closed in the 1950s. Exhibits include hand tools, anvils, vices and hand machinery used at that time, as well as baking tin rollers – plus the mystery artefact pictured. A second mystery object is pictured in the story below.

But what on earth are they? Any ideas? If you think you can help, please leave a comment.

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