Development Officer Ruth Mumford at Ely's "library of things". Credit: Caleb Tutt.

The ‘library of things’ where you can borrow a lawnmower for less than a fiver 

Project rents out bulky goods to help people save money – and space – in their homes 

A COMMUNITY project in Ely which loans out household goods has been in high demand this month and is ready to cater to more residents. 

Ely’s “library of things”, named Benthyg, is run by Action in Caerau and Ely. It loans out household items like lawnmowers and carpet cleaners for prices as low as £5, with proceeds going to ACE. 

Benthyg’s catalogue is made up of unwanted items donated to the project, helping people who can’t afford to buy them.

Some of the useful tools available at ACE Benthyg. Credit: Caleb Tutt

“In January I had 16 people sign up and that was only by the 19th, so that tells you a lot, doesn’t it?”  said Ruth Mumford, development officer for ACE Benthyg, which is based at the Dusty Forge on Cowbridge Road West. 

“We’ve got people making reservations now for borrowing stuff in August because they’re planning ahead for their summer holidays already.” 

Camping equipment like tents and portable potties become far more popular in the summer. Credit: Caleb Tutt

Ruth said that demand for items had “definitely” increased. The Ely branch was opened in 2021, with an equivalent opening in Splott in 2022.  Now the Benthyg project wants to expand further.  

“There’s plans to get one set up in Llandaff North … we are quite a fair way along the route,”  said Ruth.

The idea behind the project is to provide communities with a library of useful appliances, saving people from spending lots of money for something that might only be used once or twice a year. 

“Say, for example, a carpet cleaner is £200 and you only use it once a year. It’s a large bulky item sitting for an entire year being used once,” said Ruth. 

Pressure washers and carpet cleaners are the most popular items on offer. Credit: Caleb Tutt

“So many people live in flats or they don’t have an outhouse, shed or garage and they don’t want them clogged up with stuff you’re only going to use once a year,” she added. 

Benthyg is free to join and members can book items in advance for a set time and return them when they are done.  

The project also has an electric van at hand and can deliver items on Fridays between 10am and 2pm.  

“We appreciate that not everyone can come in the week but that’s why the van is there,” said Ruth. 

“It means that there isn’t a barrier to borrowing.” 

The electric van used by ACE Benthyg for Friday deliveries. Credit: Caleb Tutt

Lawnmowers, pressure washers and carpet cleaners are among the most popular items loaned out, along with camping equipment in the summer.

“In about a month’s time when the grass starts growing, I expect it’s going to go quite nuts,” said Ruth.

The most peculiar item available to borrow from the “library of things” is a “brake pad spreading tool,” said Ruth. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, this has not yet been loaned out. 

ACE Benthyg is open from 10am to 2pm from Monday to Thursday, with van deliveries on Fridays. The project is also open on the fourth Saturday of every month from 10am to midday. The project is based at the Dusty Forge in Ely on Cowbridge Road West. 

Ruth is keen to spread the word about the service so it can increase the number of borrowers it helps.