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Wales can lay claim to several pioneering and entrepreneurial feats during the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the most impressive include those of Pryce Jones (1834-1920) and his woollen flannel company in Newtown.

The company saw Wales’ woollen industry flourish and provided thousands of local jobs. The Pryce Jones Collection, held at Powys County Archives, demonstrate its other significant achievements:

World’s first mail order business: The arrival of railways to Newtown, and Pryce Jones’ business prowess, turned this local company into a global concern. He was one of the first to make a success of the mail order model which we’ve become so used to today. Delivery service was a major factor in the company’s success. This is reflected in the collection which contains leaflets, catalogues and other promotional material sent out to gain orders. In 1901 a post office was added to the company’s premises, the Royal Welsh Warehouse, to deliver parcels all over the world.

Sales catalogue, 1955

Sales catalogue, 1955. Powys County Archives.

Royal orders: The business provided Welsh flannel to royalty and aristocracy. Orders came from royal households home and abroad, including Norway, Sweden and Russia. Sales leaflets show that customers included Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria. The collection includes a series of papers relating to Royal Warrants and Patronage from 1880 onwards. Pryce Jones was knighted in 1887.

The Royal Welsh Warehouse: Pryce Jones began with a little drapers shop. A much larger premise was built in 1879, The Royal Welsh Warehouse. This was extended in 1887-87 and again in 1901 to include the Post Office. A factory, known as Agriculture House, was built and the two were connected by a footbridge. The collection includes photographs and drawings of company buildings, department lists and items relating to opening celebrations. Since the Pryce Jones Company was taken over in 1938, the listed red-brick building has housed a number of home shopping companies. It has recently been temporarily taken over by Hope Church as a place of worship: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-26138359

The collection also include papers of staff and social events (including female sports teams), the company’s store in Canada, and many other business records.

A detailed catalogue of the collection can be found here, please contact Powys County Archives for more details.

Royal Welsh Warehouse Ladies Cricket Team, 1939. National Library of Wales.

Royal Welsh Warehouse Ladies Cricket Team, 1939. National Library of Wales.

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