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18 June 2014
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Pryce-Jones: Pioneer of the Mail Order Industry

Scarlet cloak "as supplied to Her Majesty the Queen" in 1879
© The Powysland Museum, Welshpool
This was a drapery shop with a difference. Pryce-Jones sent local gentry patterns and leaflets of Welsh Flannel supplied by local woollen manufacturers and merchants. Their orders would then be dispatched, at first by stage coach, and later by train. This was a convenient way for people living in isolated locations to shop, without taking the time or effort to travel to town. The business was a success and he won several awards at the National Eisteddfod of Wales. By 1880 he had in excess of 100,000 customers, including Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria, whose names he happily used when advertising material.

Royal Welsh Warehouse, Newtown. From a sales leaflet sent to customers in 1879
© The Powysland Museum, Welshpool
As the railway network expanded, so did his business. He was able to sell Welsh Flannel to the rest of Europe, America and eventually Australia. The London and North Western Railway Company provided him with 3 parcel vans for daily deliveries along the Newtown to Euston line and he was able to promise next day delivery to most of England. Having already moved to bigger premises once, he moved again in 1879 and built the Royal Welsh Warehouse, near Newtown train station. In 1895 he built a factory opposite and in 1901 he added his own post office to help him cope with his burgeoning trade. He was rewarded for his efforts in 1887 when he was knighted by Queen Victoria.

Words: Carolyn Cowey

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Look back into the past using the Legacies' archives. Find nearly 200 tales from around the country in our collection.

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Internet Links
Victorian Powys
–Read more about the Victorian age in mid Wales
Gathering the Jewels
– The website for Welsh cultural history
Cambrian Woollen Mill
–BBCi Mid Wales Where I Live
Powys: A Day in the Life
–Digital History Project
The Story of the Welsh Woollen Industry
–Museum of the Welsh Woollen Industry
More on Pryce-Jones
– BBC Wales History Hunters
–BBC Wales Hall of Fame
The Industrial Past of Wales
Newtown Online
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