Saturday 25 August 2012

Nipping into Newtown [1]

 Dateline : Saturday 18th August 2012 
Welsh for Beginners, lesson 1
Y Drenewydd = Y [the] Dre [town] newydd [new]
bws = bus
trên = train
tram = tram
gorsaf = station
safle = stop (as in bus-)
As with many successful businesses, Pryce Pryce-Jones started small with his own little shop selling drapery just off Broad Street.

Newtown had always had a woollen industry and it was this local Welsh Flannel which formed the mainstay of Pryce-Jones' business. It was the reform of the post office ...

... and the arrival of the railways ...

... which helped turn a small rural concern into a global company. Pryce-Jones hit upon a unique method of selling his wares.
People would choose what they wanted from leaflets he sent out and the goods would then by dispatched by post and train. Thus is 1871, "Mail Order" was invented!

Whilst the original "Royal Welsh Warehouse" still stands adjacent to the railway station ...
... Pryce-Jones' later, much extended, headquarters building (seen above in the background) ...
... had recently succumbed to the demolisher's huge concrete ball. On their welsh holiday, fbb and Mrs fbb met up with chums Peggy and Richard who escorted the old fogeys on a fascinating trip to Newtown. The target of their visit was the Textile Museum, where a railway signalling arm ...
...commemorated the importance of the railway in the development of the town's weaving industry.
Admission to this fascinating museum was just £1 for non-Powys adult  residents, but only 50p for "foreign" fogeys. Even better, admission to the Davies Art Gallery ...
... was entirely free! Bargains all round.

Gwendoline Davies (1882-1951) and Margaret Davies (1884-1963), two sisters from near Newtown, amassed one of the great British art collections of the 20th century. Together, they bequeathed 260 works to the National Museum of Wales in 1951 and 1963, completely transforming its art collection in character, quality and range. The Gallery is named after them.

What our "hosts with the most" had overlooked was a further thrill in the Newtown visit. Next door to the gallery was the exciting bus station (?).
will leave you today with a puzzle picture ...
... and a simple question, "What is it?" All will be revealed in tomorrow's enthralling episode.

Bet you can't wait! Meanwhile here is Newtown Station today.
Who would have thought that public transport had a part to play in the invention of today's vast mail order industry. Indirectly, then, Amazon owes its very existence to Pryce Pryce-Jones, Rowland Hill and the Cambrian Railways! Well, maybe.

 Next Blog : Sunday 26th August 


  1. The last time I went to Newtown, about ten years ago, I visited the Royal Welsh Warehouse.
    Downstairs, there was a bargain clothing/household goods store. The upper floors were still occupied by the mail-order catalogue company that took over the Pryce-Jones business. They had a call centre and admin offices there.
    One room was set aside as a Pryce-Jones "museum", which you could visit by appointment. There were some display cases, but most of the material was in cupboards and on shelves - part of the company archives, I guess. You could browse through old catalogues, letters and photos. Fascinating, if you like that sort of thing.

  2. According to the interwebnet [Aston Rose Chartered Surveyors] the call centre is now closed and 18,000 sq ft of space available for lease.

    1. Thanks for that. I'm sorry the call centre has closed - it was some sort of link with the original purpose of the building, and with the days of Pryce-Jones