The Welsh Industries Association

The Welsh Industries Association organised their first Welsh Industries Exhibition in London in 1891. (North Wales Chronicle, 4th October 1906, 19th October 1906). The objective of this organisation was to encourage the products of Welsh industries to a high standard and to sell them to a wider market. Woollen goods were represented. They had offices at 131, Queen. Street, Cardiff and produced annual reports. Regional branches were formed and exhibitions were held in various parts of Wales and in London.

It is likely that some of the surviving wool and silk sample fabrics from north Wales were made especially for one of these exhibitions in 1906, (for example, and there are samples in Gwynedd Museum, Bangor of fabrics made with a wool warp and silk weft, some of which may have been produced for special costumes) but so far, little evidence of the effect the exhibitions had on the textile industry has been discovered. The main objective of the exhibitions was, presumably, to increase sales to places outside Wales, and if anything, this would have caused a breakaway from traditional designs (while retaining the quality). One of the stall holders at the 1906 exhibition made it clear that they needed novelties rather than bales of wool, and if they were to sell wool, it had to be made up into golf coats and other finished items. As a result, the wool industry gradually became replaced by small-scale craft products.

The Association gave its funds to the University of Wales in 1920, who initially used it to prepare a report following a Survey of the Welsh Textile Industry by Crankshaw.

Other organisations with similar aims were established during the 20th century.

1898
Lord Tredegar is to open the Depot of the Welsh Industries Association today in the Morgan Arcade this Saturday afternoon.
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 24, 1898

1898
Extracts from several lengthy newspaper articles:
Welsh Crafts, New Scheme originated by Lady Eva Wyndham-Quin, wife of the Glamorgan M.P.
Miss Mable Hill, Rookwood, Llandaff is the Honorary Secretary of the Welsh Industries Association.
(Mable was daughter of Sir Edward Stock Hill M.P. for south Bristol 1886-1900; and his wife Lady Fanny Hill. They lived at Rookwood, Llandaff.)
‘The ruling idea, of course, is to get Welsh produce thrown upon the market as much as possible.’
‘Welsh Industries  will mark a new era so far as Peasant Life is concerned.’
‘Encouragement of Welsh Industries Exhibition and Sale in London’
‘Welsh Industries Garden Party at St Fagan’s’
‘Successful Welsh Industries exhibition at Carmarthen’
Various unidentified newspaper cuttings in a scrap album of the Hill family of Rookwood, Llandaff,  (1898-1901), Glamorgan Archives, D1372/1/1/7.

1899
Extracts from several lengthy newspaper articles:
‘Home Arts and Industries Exhibition’ at the Royal Albert Hall
‘Welsh Industries Exhibition at Llanelly’
Various unidentified newspaper cuttings in a scrap album of the Hill family of Rookwood, Llandaff,  (1898-1901), Glamorgan Archives, D1372/1/1/7.

1899
Welsh Industries Exhibition, Aberystwyth, August, 1899
Welsh Gazette

1899
The object of the Welsh Industries Association is the development and encouragement of the Welsh Industries and the improvement of the Welsh textile fabrics of Wales by providing the makers with good patterns etc and helping the cottage workers to find a better market for their goods. Both mills and handlooms are included in the scope of the association, and it is hoped it will do something towards preventing the country people from crowding into the towns. It is also intended to foster the old Welsh national patterns and fabrics many of which have been dying out of late years. It endeavours to attain these objects by forming branches, by enlisting patronesses, associates and members, by establishing depots for the sale of goods, by holding occasional exhibitions and sales, by encouraging classes and village workshop where handicrafts can be learnt and practiced.
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), Saturday, June 10, 1899
Daily News (London, England), Tuesday, June 20, 1899

1900
FOR GALLANT LITTLE WALES The Welsh Industries Association Exhibition at 83 Eaton Square, London, open for 2 days. Visited by the Princess of Wales. The Duchess of Wellington presided over the refreshment room assisted by Mrs A.J. Warden and a bevy of pretty girls in National Costume which was also worn by Mrs Herbet of Llanover’s harpist. There was a Welsh spinning wheel with a model of a woman in National Dress.
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 9, 1900

1902
At the Welsh Industries Depot in Market Street, opposite the Talbot, Aberystwyth, Mr J Morris supplies direct from the best mills of Cardiganshire real Welsh flannel, shirtings, home made cloth, shawls, blankets, hosiery, knitting yarn.
Cambrian News 15.8.1902

1906
It is likely that some of the surviving wool and silk sample fabrics from north Wales were made especially for one of these exhibitions in 1906, but so far, little evidence of the effect these exhibitions had on the textile industry has been discovered. The main objective of the exhibitions was, presumably, to increase sales to places outside Wales, and if anything, this would have caused a breakaway from traditional designs (while retaining the quality). One of the stall holders at the 1906 exhibition made it clear that they needed novelties rather than bales of wool, and if they were to sell wool, it had to be made up into golf coats and other finished items. As a result, the wool industry gradually became replaced by small-scale craft products. At the same exhibition, a number of the stall-holders dressed in Welsh costume and the Cymric London Ladies Choir and Madame Clara Novello Davies’ Royal Welsh Ladies Choir performed in Welsh costume. Other organisations with similar aims were established during the 20th century.

1907
Letter from Louisa Helme, Honorary Secretary, Welsh Industries Association about the Exhibition and Sale to be held in the Mansion House, London, by the Lord Mayor (a Welsh patriot). The Cymric London Ladies Choir in Welsh costume will sing and Madame Clara Novello Davies and her well known choir will give a concert on Tuesday night. Special trains from north and South Wales.
Textiles, pottery, lace, carving and basket work.
15th and 16th October.
Thought to be the first Welsh exhibition to be held in London but reports of 19.10.1907 says it was far more up-to-date than the last exhibition. In spring of this year at Lady Leyand’s House in Hyde Park.
Numerous ladies in Welsh costume at the stalls thus adding picturesqueness … to the scene.
ANGLESEY
A silver cross was won at the Home Arts and Industries Exhibition at the Albert Hall in May last … Modern products in traditional fabrics – e.g. Golf coats, knitted bridge purses.
Photos of factories and homes of the peasantry
Brooms, baskets, copper candlesticks, platters and knitting work
CARNARVONSHIRE
Miss May Jenkins of Penmaenmawr wore a Welsh costume
Large collection of Welsh dolls
Homespun tweeds, flannels, shawls etc
Matwork (by the blind)
Slate rings, paper knives
Crewelwork
DENBIGHSHIRE, MERIONETHSHIRE
Small hand loom work
Novelties rather than bales of wool – better to make useful or ornamental articles
NO report from FLINT, but Glamorgan, Brecon (homespun), Carmarthen for flannels, oak furniture and pottery (mostly exported to the east); Monmouth for Welsh dolls,
North Wales Chronicle, 5.10.1906, 19.10.1906

1908
Exhibition of the Welsh Industries Association at the Royal Albert Hall, London, opened by the Duchess of Beaufort

1911
An interview with Mrs Richard Mashiter at the London Sale, May 12-13th at Grosvenor House:
The Welsh Industries Association was established in 1899 [sic] in Glamorgan by Mrs Harford of Cardigan, Lady Eva Wyndham-Quin, Mrs Geofrey Clark and Mrs Mackintosh. The First honorary Secretary was Miss Mabel Hill.
Annual sales were held in London, and others in Swansea, Llandudno, Newport (Mon), Bristol and exhibitions were held in Liverpool, the Daily Mail Lace exhibition, Milan and St Louis.
Their Depot is at 5 Belgrave Mansions , Grosvenor Gardens.
They sold baskets, pottery, tweeds, toys, little coloured figures of Welsh Ladies in national costume singing at the Prince of Wales investiture.
There were plans for an exhibition and sale at Carmarthen for the 1911 Eisteddfod.
Fabrics: Dress flannels from 1/4d [a yard]; soft homespuns from 1/9d; coats and jerseys, golf and cycling stockings; travelling rugs. Trefriew Mill is producing a real indigo serge.
A Royal purchase was a large Cardiganshire Welsh doll.
Each county has its own stall and committee.
It supports cottagers and the Association provides makers with good patterns and fosters the reproduction of Old Welsh patterns and fabrics. This stops them crowding into towns.
Wales, I, (1911), pp 143-145

1911
THE WELSH INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION. THE THIRTEENTH ANNUAL REPORT … for the Year ending March 1st, 1911. (London: Grellier and Son Welsh Printers, 302, Gray’s Inn Road, W.C. 1911).
WELSH INDUSTRIES EXHIBITION for Breconshire and Radnorshire. Guild Hall, Brecon, . . . October 3rd and 4th, 1911. (Rules for Exhibitors, &c). . . . (T. Jones, Printer, Brecon. [1911]).

1914
The Welsh Industries Association lent the National Museum of Wales a doll of a boy dressed in a brown velvet suit (Welsh doll project number D30). The museum subsequently purchased it.

1915
Depot for the Welsh Industries Association for Welsh tweeds, flannels, pottery, Carving, dolls in Welsh costume etc at 64 Marine Terrace, Aberystwyth
Advert in National Eisteddfod programme, Aberystwyth, 1915

1920
The capital of the Welsh Industries Fund was handed over to the University of Wales by the Association in 1920 for the establishment of scholarships for weaving, carving, or some industry fostered by the Association. The University initially used the fund to commission W.P. Crankshaw to prepare a report on a Survey of the Welsh Textile Industry published in 1927.

Bibliography
Welsh Industries Association: Anglesey branch. 1902-1907: purchase book. Bangor University, Archives and Special Collections Lligwy MS 62
Article on the Welsh Industries Association : Minerva, The Swansea History Journal, Volume 16
Bebb, Richard, Welsh furniture 1250-1950, pp. 364-366

Osler, Dorothy and Evans, Deborah, ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush? : An introductory study to sericulture and silk-mix fabric production in north Wales in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’, Quilt studies, Issue 8 (2007), p. 83-104.

Osler, Dorothy, and Evans, Deborah, ‘Cloth and culture : the significance of historic silk-mix fabrics from north Wales’, Quilt studies, Issue 9 (2008), pp. 84-109

Catalogue, Home Arts and Industries exhibition, Royal Albert Hall, 1906

Sutton, Ann, The Textiles of Wales,  (1987), pp. 27-30

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