Message from our chair
There is an air of excitement at the Museum this month as we prepare to re-open on 1 May. We look forward to a busy and successful season again.
The winter has been a very busy time for us. It started with our 50th anniversary celebration on 4 November where we had over 140 people come to join us for the day - our highest number on one day.
Since then, work has been going on to re-organise and re-arrange the top floor with the assistance of a grant from the Ashley Foundation. We think it looks amazing and hope you will too. Those who remember the early days of the Museum with some old shop windows from the town used as part of the display, will be pleased to see their return. Questions about their return have been constant since we took over the Museum in June 2016.
Thanks to the generous grants and funding we have received we have been able to proceed with the following projects:
- Conserving the scale model of the building
- Upgrading the top floor displays
- Carrying out Phase 2 of our Conservation Audit
- Carrying out a Collection and Documentation Audit
- Move on to the next stage of work in conserving the building.
Check out those who have helped fund our work here.
At the Museum we have a great collection of clog making equipment including tools, and workbenches together with finished clogs and patterns.
In March, Geraint Parfitt (on the left)one of the last Welsh clog makers who works from his shop at St Fagans Museum of Welsh life visited Newtown to appraise and advise us on the best way to display our collection. His enthusiasm inspired us and we hope you will enjoy our new clog makers shop on the top loom floor.
Clog dancing originated from the patterns weavers made as they moved their feet on the loom pedals and the word clog derives from the mud accumulating on the footwear of the workers.
Geraint will be at the Textile Museum one day this Summer demonstrating clog making so please visit our website again for more details on when he will be coming.
Demonstrations get even more hands on
Thanks to Fibre-East we now have a good supply of niddy-noddies (for winding yarn into a skein), drop spindles and hand carders, and an extra loom so that our visitors can be more hands on when watching the demonstrators. Check out Fibre-East's website if you are interested in attending their events featuring natural fibre and craft.
We are very grateful for Fibre-East's help.
Mary Clayton 1841 - her story. Part of a new display at the Museum.
My name is Mary Clayton. I was born Mary Humphreys, just across the river in Newtown, in 1797. I married Thomas when I was 23, just in time, as our eldest girl, Ann, was born a month later! You’ll meet Thomas when you go upstairs. He’s busy doing his shift on the loom. I’ll be taking over on a later shift. Thomas doesn’t like me working up there, he says us women and the children are driving down the wages. But what can I do? If I don’t work, some other woman will do it instead, and we need the money!!
This, here, is our youngest, Amelia. She’s five. We’ve got six altogether. The other five are all working. Three are working upstairs on the looms and the other two are over in the fulling mill down by the river. It’s tough on the youngsters. In the busy time, they’re all working 12 hours a day, sometimes longer. They’re so tired, they hardly know what they’re doing. I don’t like them working down the mill, kids are always getting hurt there. Last week I heard that a 9 year old had her arm crushed in the hammers!
And this is our house, number 2 Grapes Court. It could be worse I suppose, but it could be a lot better. It would be nice to have one of the houses on the front and not have to have the smell of the privies in the yard outside in our nostrils all the time. And you need eyes in the back of your head with the kids. I’m scared one of the little ones will fall into the cess pool.
But at least we’ve got a house to live in and work! Mind you, our pay doesn’t buy much, once you take out the rent. We’re always owing Mr Griffiths, the Master - so we’re forced to buy our food in his tommy shop across the road.
All in all, life is tough, but we’re still some of the lucky ones. We’re all working. We have a roof over our heads and we’ve got some food in our bellies!
Crimean military quilt
There is a picture hanging in the Royal College of Surgeons of a man sitting in bed sewing a quilt. His quilt was made of triangles, while the one on display at the Museum is tiny squares of densely woven worsted used in the production of military uniforms, predominantly red.
Soldiers were encouraged to take up needlework as a form of therapy for those injured in conflict and recuperating in hospital. An heirloom from the great great grandfather of our curator, this glorious woollen quilt is a reminder of the therapy of craft work. It is on loan.
Marvel at the stitching and regularity of the quilting.