The Welsh Industries Association

The Welsh Industries Association / Cymdeithas Diwydiannau Cymreig and the Lady Hill Collections

This page deals with the objectives of the Welsh Industries Association (1898-1921), and the role that the Hill family of Llandaff played in it. The Hill family left a collection of hundreds of samples of Welsh fabrics to the National Museum of Wales in 1917 and a collection of scrap books to the National Museum of Wales (recently transferred to Glamorgan Archives).

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

This page includes:

  • Introduction
  • Similar organisations
  • Objectives of the WIA
  • Maintaining Traditions
  • The New Markets
  • Documents from the Carmarthen Branch, 1898
  • Management
  • Finance
  • Winding up
  • Lady Hill
  • Mabel Hill
  • Fabric Samples Mounted in volumes
  • Fabric Samples Mounted on card
  • Lady Hill’s Scrapbooks
  • Some published references to the WIA in newspapers, etc. in chronological order
  • Bibliography

The Welsh Industries Association (WIA) was a philanthropic organisation established in London early in 1898 to encourage the sale of the products of cottage industries, especially woven cloths. The intention was to provide new markets for rural craft workers mainly to discourage their migration from the countryside to the towns.

Branches of the WIA were set up in all the counties in Wales except Merionethshire and Radnorshire. A depot, which gathered and sold goods, was opened in at 131 Queen. Street, Cardiff and there was another in Market Street, Aberystwyth. There was also a London branch which ran a depôt there and at which staff were employed, in addition to a manager whose job involved visiting craftspeople in Wales to assess the suitability of their products for sale in London and elsewhere.

Similar organisations
An interest in the revival of cottage industries developed during the 1880s prompting the formation of several national organisations: the Cottage Arts Association, formed in 1884, became the Home Arts and Industries Association, (possibly encompassing the whole of the UK) in 1886; the Irish Industries Association was founded in 1886 and the Scottish Home Arts and Industries Association was established in 1888. All these encouraged the production of home produce (i.e. items made in homes in Britain rather than abroad).
Helland, Janice, British and Irish home arts and industries, 1880-1914: marketing craft, making fashion (Dublin, 2007)
The work of the WIA was distinct from the Arts and Crafts movement which encouraged craftspeople to move from town to country.

Objectives of the WIA
The published objectives were:
The development and encouragement of Welsh Industries and the improvement of the Textile Fabrics of Wales by providing the makers with good patterns etc. and by helping the cottage workers to find a better market for their goods. Both mills and hand weavers 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 in late years by encouraging classes and village workshops where handicrafts have been learned and practiced.
(quoted in Talbot, Kathy, ‘The Welsh Industries Association, philanthropy, craft and commerce.’ Swansea History Journal, (Minerva), Vol. 16, (2008/09), p. 58 without source but see Gentlewoman, 30 July 1898, p. 147; 8 October 1898, p. 446; 5 November 1898, p. 620; The Times, 25 May 1898, p. 5)
See also the announcement of the formation of the WIA in newspapers, February 1898 (below).

Maintaining Traditions
While the founders of the WIA made it clear that traditional fabrics were rather too drab for new markets, the reference in the Objectives (above) to ‘Old Welsh National Patterns and Fabrics’ is reminiscent of Lady Llanover’s attempts to preserve traditional fabrics and patterns. She mentioned, but did not describe these in her essay of 1832 and sponsored prizes given at Eisteddfodau in the 1840s and 1850s. She died in 1896, two years before the formation of the Association but her interest in the subject might have been passed on to her daughter, Charlotte Herbert who was probably involved in the Glamorganshire branch of the WIA, and hosted exhibitions of craft products at her home at Llanover, Monmouthshire. This interest in traditional crafts reflects a somewhat romantic and nostalgic view of rural crafts, but it enabled the purchases to support craftspeople to produce authentic all-Welsh items made in a traditional way. Some of the items, such as shawls and blankets, were attractive and functional but others, such as the aprons which incorporated silk, were purely decorative.

New markets
What is not explicit in the objectives, but is clear from the marketing, is that the products were for the affluent rather than the traditional markets (the communities where the craftspeople lived).

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.

The goods were exhibited and sold in towns rather than in the countryside, at depôts, garden parties, exhibitions, special fairs and other events to which the gentry and nobility were invited. The objective was to encourage the Welsh craftspeople to produce fabrics and other items which were attractive to the affluent, so design and quality were of importance. It was hoped that the upper classes would influence the other classes to follow their example and buy domestic rather than foreign products.

The use of silk with wool or linen (silk winsey) might have been a result of this new market. Examples of silk mixtures are in museums and in the samples books gathered by the Hon. Secretary of the Association, Mabel Hill (see below).

It is not known whether the Association was successful in generating large orders of fabrics from weavers for use in the mass-production of functional clothing (such as workmen’s shirts) or the creation of fashionable costumes: there is little in the documentation to show whether the Welsh products were competitive in quality or cost with those produced in the north of England or abroad.

The WIA encouraged the production and sale of:
Hand and power loom woven cloths.
Welsh pottery and earthenware (as long as the glaze did not contain lead)
Wrought Iron and metalwork
Wood carving
Basket and wicker work
Stocking knitting
Knitting in Crochet and Lace
The WIA sponsored prizes for competitions in these subjects at National Eisteddfodau and other events, thus encouraging both professional and amateur crafts.

Effects of the WIA
So far, little evidence of the effect the WIA exhibitions had on the textile industry has been discovered.

Documents from the Carmarthen Branch, 1898
The following documents illustrate what the local branches intended to do, and they show that they were appealing to monoglot Welsh and English speakers.
Carmarthenshire Branch Committee, English
Carmarthenshire Branch explanation, English
Carmarthenshire Branch Committee, Cymraeg
Carmarthenshire Branch explanation, Cymraeg
Carmarthenshire Branch invitation, April 1898
Instructions for weavers

Most of the members of the General Management and London committees of the WIA were gentry or nobility who had homes in London but had connections with Wales.

The meetings of the management committee were normally held in London, but occasionally in Wales and were attended by individual members of the committee plus representatives of the branches. The two minute books of this committee, covering the whole period of the organisation (1898-1921) are in the National Library (NLW Minor Deposits 8-9).

The London executive committee who ran a depôt in London, met regularly (Minute books NLW Minor Deposits 10-14). The minute books were given to the National Library of Wales in 1925 by Mrs Mashiter, The Honorary Secretary of the London Branch.

The location of the minute books of the other branches is unknown, but reports of the branch activities were published in many reports in local and national newspapers (see some examples below).

The members of the Management Committee were referred to as Trustees in a minute at the time the organisation was wound up so it is assumed that they took final responsibility for the finances of the organisation. In theory, and in practice, it seems, the Association was financially self-supporting, but to get the premises established and employ staff, and to pay the craftspeople for their goods (which they could not afford to part with on a sale or return arrangement), the Association raised funds by charging an annual membership fee of £1 a year, and asked sponsors to contribute at least £2 a year. A few individuals offered to cover any losses which might be made at the events.

The WIA’s annual accounts have not been found, but the first management committee book contains accounts for five London exhibitions held between 1903 and 1906

1903 1904 1905 1906 1906
Stalls takings £487 £552 £446 £483 £785
Gate money and tickets £69 £79 £51 £60 £85
Expenses £76 £73 £63 £101 £70
‘Profit’ £480 £558 £434 £442 £800

The average takings for each of the counties represented was between £25 and £50 except for Glamorganshire which had an average of £130.

A newspaper report stated that by 1906 £25,000 worth of goods had passed through the association (an average of just over £3,000 per annum) which suggests that the London and Cardiff Depots were selling about £2,500 worth of goods each year. A very rough calculation suggests that this might have been enough to support upto 50 weavers full time (allowing for 20% commission and cost of materials).

Winding up
The WIA continued to run successfully until 1921 when it was reported that there were problems in finding craft workers since the war; wages had been raised; the need for assistance for home industries was no longer necessary and other organisations were taking over the work of the WIA.

The final meeting of the WIA management committee was held on the 5th July 1921 at Eaton Square, the home of Lord and Lady Aberdare.

Nominally there was £2,355 in the main bank account and the branches had more in hand. It was agreed to use the funds to:
1 Endow a textile or weaving department of a Welsh University with £60 a year, but there was no such department in a Welsh University so the Association gave some of its funds to the University of Wales who used it to prepare a report following a Survey of the Welsh Textile Industry by W.P. Crankshaw (1927).
2 Sponsor prizes at the National Eisteddfod

Lady Hill

Photograph of Lady Hill from the Weekly Mail, 19 January, 1909

In 1917, Lady Hill of Rookwood, Llandaff gave the National Museum of Wales a collection of samples of fabric mostly mounted on pages in bound volumes with a few on separate sheets of card.

(NMW 17.103. One sheet of examples is in St Fagans; the remainder are in the National Wool Museum, Drefach Felindre, mostly on display.)

Lady Hill (nee Fanny Tickell, died in about 1919) was married to Colonel Sir Edward Stock Hill, M.P. (1834-1902). She lent her home, Rookwood, to the Red Cross for use as a convalescent home for officers in 1917 and did not return there, which probably explains why she gave the fabric samples to the National Museum in that year.

Lady Hill was a judge in the 1901 Welsh Industries Exhibition (crochet and lace section).

Mabel Hill

Photograph of Mabel Hill from the Weekly Mail, 19 January, 1909

Lady Hill’s daughter, Mabel, was actively involved in the WIA. She was honorary secretary of the Management Committee from about 1898 to September 1902 when she resigned through ill health (possibly brought about by the death of her father).

The minutes of meetings and newspaper reports make it clear that she was innovative and industrious in her work for the WIA. A long press release announcing the establishment of the WIA states that:

Miss Hill has also made a collection of patterns, which shows that the manufacture of Welsh flannels, serges, linseys, poplins, tweeds, brethyn llwyd, etc., has gone on to a vast extent, so far as quality and diversity of pattern, &c., are concerned; where the most improvement is needed is in orders.

Evening Express (First Edition) 23rd February 1898
(For full transcription, see below)
Another report shows that she wanted to expand the aims of the Association:
Lady Eva Wyndham-Quin in a neat speech appealed for an increase of subscriptions, an appeal backed up by Miss Mabel Hill, whose new scheme for the sale of poultry, butler, and eggs met with such a favourable reception that before the close of the meeting the sum of £100 was promised to start it. 
South Wales Echo (Special edition), 1st September 1900

Mabel Hill was also active in political circles (e.g. the Primrose League, see the Lady Hill Scrap books below) and in publication: in 1894 a local newspaper announced: We have much pleasure in congratulating Miss Mabel Hill, daughter of Colonel Sir Edward Hill, M.P. for Bedminster, Bristol, on the launching of her monthly magazine, the Bristol South Gazette, and wishing her every success in her venture. As she intends it to be “a literary, scientific, political, and athletic journal.”
The Western Mail, 24th January 1894

The fabrics samples are generally about 2 inches (5 cm) square, but some are very irregular in shape and may be small left-overs from cutting-out garments.

Many have the price per yard written in pencil but few record the name of the mill or weaver. They are not dated, but it is assumed that most were prepared before Mabel Hill retired as Honorary Secretary in September 1902 and that the organisation no longer required them: they were transferred to the National Museum in 1917, before the WIA was wound up in 1921.

Many of the fabrics are very thin and of dark colours. They are not reminiscent of Welsh costume gown or skirt material, nor of aprons.

It has not yet been possible to identify the fabrics – whether wool, linen or cotton, or mixtures of these.

Some of the check patterns are similar to those said to have been made at Gwenffrwd mill (e.g. the True Lover’s knot) which may have been derived from other mills.

John Richard Jones saw these samples at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff in the 1920s, but did not comment on them.
‘Bygones in NMW
Books of Patterns illustrating Welsh weaving and Dyeing
Llyfrau Patrymau yn egluro nudda a lliwio Cymreig
Rhoddwr Lady Hill, 17.103’
NLW John Richard Jones collection (not catalogued), vol. 3, p. 3

1 Book of samples. Bound with buckle and leather strap

“Welsh Industries Association. The Honorary Secretaries Private Pattern Book” embossed on the cover with adhesive label marked in ink, ‘Llandaff, Glam. / Miss Mabel Hill’
Contains mostly very thin, small square fabric samples with some labels, and nearly all priced, but generally with no woollen mill names recorded. A few examples of ‘silk winsey’


2 Book of samples. Bound with buckle and leather strap
“Welsh Industries Association. The Honorary Secretaries Private Pattern Book”
Contains mostly very thin, small square fabric samples with some labels, and nearly all priced, but generally with no woollen mill names recorded. Many examples missing.

3 Book of samples. Bound, with “Wool” on the spine.

4 Large volume
256 fabric samples, mostly wool

5 Album, red cover, pages 27.6 x 23.5 cms

Photograph of page 2
Containing pages marked:
1 Forest Factory Pontypridd (7 samples)
2 Forest Factory Pontypridd (10 samples)
3 Forest Factory Pontypridd (12 samples)
4 Llanblethian (9 samples)
5 Llanblethian (5 samples)
6 Buddington Pontymister (4 samples)
Remainder of the album is blank







6 Album marked ‘Welsh Patterns’

All samples (and some pages) were removed and separately packed and labelled during restoration
1 Tonypandy Factory, Rhondda Valley
2 Tonypandy Factory,
3 Tonypandy Factory, Blankets, very heavy £2.10.0 per pair
4 Tonypandy Factory, Blankets £1.10.0 per pair. Serge 36 inches wide, 8/4 per yard
5 Mr Lewis, Tonypandy Factory (very feint in pencil)

1 Separate sheet with samples mounted (with adhesive?) on card with labelled mount. (now at St Fagans)
 The following cards have pin holes in the corners and were probably displayed at various exhibitions of the Welsh Industries Association or similar organisations. Some of the cards are labelled ‘From files of Misses E and A Davies, Gelli-Aur Factory, Llandysul’. The date of 1850 is difficult to accept, but it is possible that the scraps (rather than squares or rectangles) were given for the exhibition by a mill who had kept some old examples. It seems much more likely that they had been cut from fabric when making garments shortly before mounting, presumably at the end of the 19th century. The handwriting is rather childish and is nothing like the handwriting of the minutes of the Management committee when Mabel Hill was secretary: perhaps the cards were prepared Misses E and A Davies, Gelli-Aur Factory, Llandysul.
 The following is written by hand on the card, with the samples:

2 Welsh cloths for ladies wear woven in about 1850

From files of Misses E and A Davies, Gelli-Aur Factory, Llandysul
Bedgwn (petty gown)
made with two shades of red: coch scarlet and coch pink
Pais (petticoat), same colour as the bedgwn
Pais isaf
[These fabrics are very similar to the sort used for gowns and skirts.]

3 Welsh cloths for ladies wear woven in about 1850
From files of Misses E and A Davies, Gelli-Aur Factory, Llandysul
Dress materials
Pais (petticoat) worn with the above dress
Ffedog (Apron)
Young Girls work dress
Probably used for Pais isaf or shawl

4 Welsh shirting woven in about 1850

From files of Misses E and A Davies, Gelli-Aur Factory, Llandysul
6 samples

5 Welsh Tweeds woven about 1850
From files of Misses E and A Davies, Gelli-Aur Factory, Llandysul
Gents suitings
Fancy Waistcoat [black and red check]
Trouser cloth

6 Four separate sheets of samples
Shirt patterns
Ladies waistcoats (white checks with red, brown or green)

There is a collection of scrapbooks in Glamorgan Archives (D1372/1/1/1-11. The first volume is marked NLW 14697E on the spine and subsequent volumes were numbered consecutively from this, so they were presumably transferred from the National Library of Wales in about 2017.)

These scrapbooks cover the period 1880-1919 and contain mostly newspaper cuttings (the dates and names of the newspaper were not recorded), relating to local and international events and politics, especially those relating to the Hill family (parliament, Primrose League, sport, army life); occasional concert and other programmes; signatures, presumably of visitors to the house, including those who attended pheasant shoots; photographs of places and groups mostly unidentified.

They contain a few cuttings reporting the activities of the WIA most of which should be digitally available on Welsh Newspapers on Line.

Some published references to the WIA in newspapers, etc. in chronological order
There are over 2100 hits for “Welsh Industries Association” on Welsh newspapers on line and there must be many more where digital character recognition for that phrase has not been successful.

Press release announcing the formation of the WIA, February 1898
Welsh Crafts.
During the last day or two the press have been supplied with the following announcement:
It may be news to your readers that an association for the improvement and development of Welsh industries has recently been formed. Lady Eva Wyndham-Quin, wife of the member for South Glamorgan, is the originator of the scheme, which is being cordially supported by the most influential ladies in Wales and Monmouthshire. The object of the association is to improve the textile fabrics of Wales by giving the weavers good patterns, and also to help the cottage workers to find a better market for their goods. All kinds of industries are included: weaving and spinning and knitting, both in mills and in cottages, embroidery, basket-making, carving, iron work, pottery, and every sort of handcraft. Committees are already being called together in several counties for the purpose of forming local branches. It is hoped that in time a network of these local branches will extend over the whole of Wales and Monmouthshire. Miss Mabel Hill, Rookwood, Llandaff, has consented to act as hon. secretary of the Welsh Industries Association, and would be glad to supply further information. The announcement points to a work that will, if supported as the object deserves, prove extremely important to Welsh industries, in the North as well as in the South. Everything at present is in an inchoate state. The ranks of the helpers have not been filled up; the chief offices of the association are not accepted. All that has been done is to see how far such an association would be possible and how far it would do any real work. Wherever appeals for help have been made it has been most readily promised, and the promoters hope that a goodly number of titled ladies whose families are interested in Wales will be found in the front rank of the workers. Proceedings have, unfortunately, been delayed through the hon. secretary’s illness, but we are glad to be able to state here that Miss Mabel Hill is now recovering rapidly.
Unfortunately, it must be admitted that several Welsh industries have been declining for some years past. So far as the industry of one district is concerned, a statement made on good authority is that, whilst in 1831 there were nearly 3,000 men employed in woollen manufacture, the number is now only about 1,570. The report issued by the Welsh Labour Commission in 1893 is full of evidence supporting the idea that industries stand in need of assistance in one way or another. On the one hand, the number of women employed on farms is decreasing, even in that department of work that is supposed to be distinctly woman’s sphere i.e., the dairy; whilst at the same time in some districts even young servant girls are to be found in charge of teams of horses working in the fields. Women’s lot seems to be (according to the report) considerably restricted. Mr. D. Lleufer Thomas says “The number of country girls, daughters of agricultural labourers, who go in for dressmaking is astounding, and one often wonders if half of their number get any work at all. Welsh girls are in great demand as domestic servants in England. The most serious feature of the case is the growing scarcity of competent girls who can take charge of the dairy and of other work requiring care and responsibility.”

Not only are the women restricted, in large measure, to domestic service, the farm (which they do not like, as a rule), dressmaking, and marriage, there is a need for something to be done amongst the men. Upon this point Mr. Lleufer Thomas says: Another noticeable fact is the great decadence of skill in wood carving and kindred handiworks, which were a special feature of almost every farmer’s kitchen in the winter evenings 40 years ago or less. In this way spoons, ladles, platters, &c., were skilfully carved, while all sorts of baskets, brooms, mole traps, and implement handles for the use of the farm were either made or mended by the servants.” Pottery, also, is a declining industry so far as Wales is concerned.
Taking all this and other facts into consideration, Lady Eva Wyndham-Quin thought that something might be done by the leading ladies to foster trade in the Principality. Something of the sort has been done elsewhere with great success. The ruling idea, of course, is to get Welsh produce thrown upon the market as much as possible. The scheme, therefore, includes the formation of local committees, who will exercise manifold duties. Wherever industries are in a forward state of perfection, if help is required, the committee will, through the establishment of depots, see that they are brought before the consumers, where help is likely to be advantageous, either in establishing classes for tuition, in supplying weavers with patterns, potters with increased facilities for manufacturing higher class articles, or in assisting the technical education committees to make their work more practical, it will be given. There is no reason why Wales should not supply to the consumers of the British Isles a large amount of produce that is now obtained from abroad. The question of patterns alone offers considerable interest. Some of those in use at present have descended from at least 150 years ago. Of these, especially the shirtings used for petticoat material are pretty enough, but it must be admitted that others are rather inartistic, both in actual design and in the blend of colours. One great object that the promoters of the scheme have in view is in connection with the present day tendency to flock into the towns, the results of which are to create congested districts on the one hand, whilst agricultural districts are depleted. If, they argue, some of the cottage industries could be fostered, these evils might be removed or mitigated. The object is not so much to make the home industries altogether the source or maintenance for the family, nor to make the women take the men’s places as bread-winners, but to provide all the difference between comfort and hardship, and. whilst enabling the people to live decently and happily amongst the healthy surroundings of rural life, to ensure a supply of labour in the hay-making and harvesting periods.

In order to find out, if possible, something by which the probability of support might be gauged, a circular has been sent out bearing the following questions
(1) Are there any flannel or cloth mills in your district; if so, how many and in what part ?
(2) Are there any looms or spinning-wheels worked in the cottages (number and location)?
(3) Are there any stocking knitters (number. &c.)?
(4) Are there any schools which can take orders for embroidery or needlework (number, &c.) ?
(5) Are there any women working at home who will take orders for needlework, embroidery, or smocking (number, &c.)?
(6) Are there any potteries in your neighbourhood, or have there ever been any (number, &c.) ?
(7) Are there any carvers, iron or stone workers in your district (number, &c.) ?
(8) Are there any other local industries you can specify (number, etc.) ?
The answers to this circular have been very satisfactory in number as well as in character. They show that there is need for such an association, and express pleasure at the idea. Some of the answers to Question No. 8 are rather amusing, and the account of industries already in existence or those for which a desire is expressed range from cockle-fishing and whisky-distilling up to weaving Welsh cloths and flannels. Visits paid by members of the provisional committee to hand-loom workers, and letters of inquiry sent to them, all elicit very hearty expressions of thanks at the prospect that something is to be done to help the industry make a march forward. MISS HILL’S EXPERIMENTS.

Already Miss Hill has made a number of experiments. One has been to find out if the form of hand looms already in use could be adapted to the manufacture of a higher class of goods, and the result has been satisfactory both to Miss Hi1l and to the weavers with whom she has made the experiment. Miss Hill has also made a collection of patterns, which shows that the manufacture of Welsh flannels, serges, linseys, poplins, tweeds, brethyn llwyd, etc., has gone on to a vast extent, so far as quality and diversity of pattern, &c., are concerned; where the most improvement is needed is in orders. A further step that Miss Hill has taken is to initial a class for teaching weaving and spinning at Rookwood, where a competent teacher, who is provided with a spinning wheel and a hand-loom and plenty of material, is engaged in teaching some Llandaff girls. The committee find that in many districts the old-fashioned system still prevails. Farmers take their wool to the spinner and weavers, select their patterns, and give their orders. The wool is spun and woven into cloth or anything else – even blankets and so the farmer practically grows his own clothes. An estimate made is that, taking Wales throughout at the present moment, there are about 860 cloth and woollen factories in existence, where steam or some other power is used, and 98 places where hand-looms are at work. An example of what might be done has been shown at the spinning and weaving school at Monmouth, which was started about eight months ago by Lady Mather-Jackson. Seven looms are at work there, and the girls are under a teacher from Finland. The progress made has been excellent in every respect. There is scarcely any limit to the possibilities and probabilities of the association. The practice at Ruthin, where the baskets for the use of mineral water manufacturers are made close to the works, might be extended in many directions. There are several lapsed industries, such as the old women lapidaries of Llandyssil, which might be revived. Potters and weavers may be brought into contact with customers in all parts of the United Kingdom. Quilters, carders, basket-makers, clogmakers, ironworkers, and even fishers will be able to find some help. At present, however, the association is in its initial stage. In a few days a meeting will be held, and after that the definite announcement as to its constitution will be published. Meanwhile ladies who have influence, time, and energy are appealed to for their support and assistance on behalf of a movement that is intended to exert an important and far-reaching effect upon Welsh industries.
Evening Express (First Edition) 23rd February 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

Welsh Industries Exhibition, Aberystwyth, August, 1899
Welsh Gazette

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

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


Adverts from the Catalogue of the Welsh Industries Exhibition, Park Hall, Cardiff, 25-26 September, 1901
(NMW St Fagans), 606 W46






This catalogue contains a list of all the competition categories and entrants. The following selective transcriptions gives an indication of the range of costumes and some other items, and the names of some of the craftsmen and women. Although there were competitions for petticoats, dresses and ‘Lady’s tailor-made costumes’ none of them refer to gowns or bedgowns.

Competition 18
Welsh striped petticoat, all wool, hand loom, Welsh wool
Prize £1.0.0 given by Pembrokeshire Branch
[Entries by:]
John Jones, Forest Factory, Narberth
Morgan James, Bargoed, Glamorgan
John Thomas, 81 Lansdown Road, Cardiff
S Morris, 3 Catherine Street, Carmarthen
E. and T. Lewis, Pencader
Evan Jones, Llywenalt, Bodedrn, Anglesey
Mrs Edwards, Rhosmaen, Llandeilo
W Williams, Llangain, Carmarthen
Th. Griffiths, Trewinsor Cardigan
Edward R Williams, Henllan Street, Denbigh
Wm Thomas, Gelly Factory, Narberth
J.T. Hughes and Sons, Pont Ystrad, Denbigh
Competition 19
Fancy Petticoat, silk and wool, hand or power loom
Prize £1.0.0 given by Anglesey Branch
[Entries by:]
Morgan James, Bargoed, Glamorgan
David Thomas, Caedraw, Merthyr
Competition 30
Silk and worsted poplin
Competition 31
Full-size white shawl of Welsh wool
Competition 32
One full-sized fancy shawl
Competition 33
Six assorted turnovers [shawls], pretty colours
Competition 47
Lady’s tailor-made costume of Welsh material, made in Wales to order, to be worn on first day of Exhibition, as the judging of this class will take place that afternoon.
[Entries by:]
Morgan James, Bargoed, Glamorgan
Wm Williams, Llangain, Carmarthen
Tyler & Co., Maesllyn, Llandyssul
John Jones, Forest Factory, Narberth
C.O. Edwards, Scalyham [sic. Sealyham], Wolf’s Castle, Pem.
Ethel M Evans, Llangennech Park, Carmarthen
Competition 48
Gentleman’s Suit of Welsh material
Competition 49
Boy’s Knickerbocker Suit of Welsh material
Competition 50
Girls dress of Welsh material
Competition 51
Lady’s dress of Welsh material, made to order by a dressmaker in Wales, to be worn on the first day of Exhibition as the judging of this class will take place that afternoon.
[Entries by:]
Tyler & Co., Maesllyn, Llandyssul
John Jones, Forest Factory, Narberth
Competition 52
Gentleman’s Suit of Welsh material
Competition 53
Gentleman’s great-coat of Welsh material
Competition 54
Copy of old red Welsh cloak, material made in Wales
No entries
Competition 55
Welsh woman’s dress
No entries
Competition 56
One pair of hand knitted gloves for Ladies, Welsh yarn
Competition 57
One pair of hand knitted gloves for men, Welsh yarn
Competition 115
Set of 3 photographs, in frame, of a Welsh woollen factory, ½ plate
Competition 117
Snapshot of Welsh Women at work and at market, wearing Welsh costume
Competition 151
Beehive chair
Competition 152
Hooded beehive chair
Competition 157
Best coracle
Competition 184
Doll about 10 inches long, in Welsh costume to take on or off
Prize 10s given by the Caernarvonshire branch
Competition 185
Small doll in Welsh costume, clothes not to take off
Prize 5s

For reports of the 1901 Cardiff exhibition, see The Cambrian, 27th September 1901 which included the following:
A conversation with Miss Mabel Hill and two of the judges (Mr F. H. Jotham, J.P., and Mr D. Humphreys) showed that in carpets and curtains great improvement had been effected. … One special feature should be noted in connection with this department, namely, the hand-woven curtains or portiere, the designs in which were particularly attractive, and all the more so from a Welsh point of view owing to the fact that under the supervision of Miss Mabel Hill, the manufacturers had so rearranged certain patterns as to introduce some really beautiful Celtic designs.

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

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.
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
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
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

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

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

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]).

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.

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

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.

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