South Asian museum and shop in Norwich celebrates 40 years - South Asia Time

South Asian museum and shop in Norwich celebrates 40 years

 June 29, 2019  

Luke Powell, Eastern Daily Press — For the past 40 years Philip and Jeannie Millward have been collecting interesting and unusual items from across South Asia for their shop on Bethel Street.

During that period they have amassed more than 6,000 items, with many now on display inside their Grade II listed premises now known as the South Asia Collection Museum and Shop.

To mark the business’ 40th anniversary this year, Mr Millward, aged 79, has revealed how it all started thousands of miles away in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1979.

Phillip and Jeannie Milward, trustees of SADACC, inside Country and Western, Bethel Street, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Mr Millward said he was visiting the country with his wife on a business trip.

As they travelled through the various provinces they started collecting ornate items and trinkets made by the locals.

Mr Millward said: “We ended up in the northern part of the country, in the Swat Valley, and we saw all of these marvellous wood carvings.

“We decided to put together a shipment, and on April 9, 1979 we sent it back to Norwich. It all started from there.”

Country and Eastern is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Two years later and the couple opened their first shop in Redwell Street under the name of Country and Eastern. It sold the contents of the first shipment, along with items from the Lahore Bazaar.

In 1984 they opened a second shop in Bridewell Alley, this time selling ceramics, silk and paper goods from Thailand, followed by a store in Kensington, London, in 1990.

Mr Millward said festivals celebrating Indian culture held in London around that time helped stimulate interest in their business.

In 1993 they moved into the roller skating rink in Norwich, which provided them with more space to show off their collection.

It was in this new location that the couple founded the South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection Trust in 2010, which aims to record and preserve the arts, crafts and cultures of South Asia.

The trust has gone on to help fund research projects with universities and students in South Asia.

Mr Millward said 13 people are employed in the shop, while a further four work within the museum.