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Up until the end of the eighteenth century, the production of woollen flannel had been a small-scale cottage industry carried out in the homes of the rural population. But at the turn of the century conditions were changing, making for the possibility of greater organization of the industry within the urban areas of Montgomeryshire. External factors, such as war in Europe against Revolutionary France had created an increased demand for cloth from which to make the uniforms of soldiers fighting against Napoleon’s armies. Women, children and men were all employed at the factory, to find out more please see the full story and further reading below.

Text taken from the Newtown Textile Museum Website – www.newtowntextilemuseum.co.uk

Did you know?

The Commercial Street factory was one of a number of similar developments in Penygloddfa in the 1830s.

Before the end of the 18th Century the textile industry in and around Newtown was a small-scale cottage industry, this all changed,

We do not know who built the factory at 5 to 7 Commercial Street. Whoever it was, the design he chose was innovative in that it combined domestic accommodation with industrial space.

War and revolution were some of the reasons for the cloth industry boom in Newtown, there was a demand for cloth to make uniforms.

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The Full Story...

We do not know who built the factory at 5 to 7 Commercial Street. Perhaps it was one of the town’s 40-odd woollen manufacturers listed in Pigot’s Trade directory of 1832 or a speculative building developer keen to make a quick profit from the newly released land in Penygloddfa. Whoever it was, the design he chose was innovative in that it combined domestic accommodation with industrial space. In this sense, the building represented a half-way house between the traditional domestic system of manufacture and the new factory system associated with the industrial revolution.

Perhaps some thirty people were crammed into the six, one-up-one down cottages of the two lower floors of the building, but the two large loom floors above probably had sufficient weaving frames to employ some fifty people. For this reason, a stone staircase in the yard at the rear of the property gave external access to the loom floors for other workers who lived in neighbouring cottages.

The Commercial Street factory was one of a number of similar developments in Penygloddfa in the 1830s. For a time, they existed side by side with bespoke woollen mills, such as the Clock Factory on Bryn Street and the Oversevern Mill situated close to the present-day Halfpenny Bridge. But ultimately such dual-purpose buildings could not compete with the much larger mills and they were converted to other uses. Most of these early weaving factories were demolished in the 1960s making the building which now houses the Textile Museum a unique example of a vanished world.

Text taken from the Newtown Textile Museum Website – www.newtowntextilemuseum.co.uk

For more information take a look at our further reading below…

Working conditions
Location location…
Life in Commercial Street c. 1840
The Origins of the Museum Building