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Open Learning Opportunities

After consultation, we have created open learning opportunities to support the History and Heritage Reading and Research Groups which will be a legacy of the project. This will enable anyone interested, to explore the story of Welsh Plains and the wider Welsh Wollen Cottage Industry between 1650 and 1850. This will include local, national and international research. 

In the first two phases of the project (which started in March 2019) the project team engaged over 50 Community Research Volunteers, with a range of experience, expertise and interest, based across Wales and some even further afield. In the final phase of the project we were working on how we pass on what we have found, as we still want to encourage local research and themed research.

If you follow the steps listed below you can create your own "Open Learning Course" which you can do at your own pace, from home or from your local library, and also we hope this will get you out and about and meeting others who are also interested in this fascinating and overlooked, but obvious, history. 

1 Check out this website www.welshplains.cymru where the article by our main advisor, Prof Chris Evans, gives a good background, and there is also other information we felt would be useful to help Community Research Volunteers get started.

2  Create your own timeline from 1650 to 1850 to include key dates and events that you know about, and then add in key events and developments that you learn about eg 1807: the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.

3  Get out and about locally and see what evidence you can find about the woollen industry in your area: look for Pandys (or more correctly Pandau) or Fulling Mills. These provide clear evidence of the early Welsh Woollen Cottage Industry as it seems fulling was an essential element in the process: Check: All about Pandys / Fulling Mills

Also look out for “factories”, larger and often 3 or 4 storey buildings, built in the late 1700s where weavers were brought / came together to produce the particularly long lengths of cloth the market required.

The majority of communities across Mid Wales were wool production centres, producing various sorts of cloth and sometimes knitted items, for local families, for local markets and for the export market. Often this is forgotten when mining or quarrying became the main focus in an area. 

4  Check out the suggested reading in Sources of Information:

5 Take time to visit to your local library, local archives or museums, to find out what information is available to you. Local church records can also provide information about local occupations. Find your local history group or individuals with a passion for history: Check "Here to Help" HERE

6 Plan ahead to visit the National Wool Museum, the Newtown Textile Museum, St Fagan’s, the International Slavery Museum and the Maritime Museum in Liverpool, or plan to visit the many museums and places in Bristol that have direct connections and information about the Slave Trade and the sugar and tobacco industries.

7 Arrange to go along to a meeting of the local “Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers” to see the wonderful crafts people who are the custodians of the skills of the early woollen industry or check out any local history groups.

8 Link with one of the Brethyn Research Groups* from time to time check the progress of the topics that others have been researching and that are being posted. *These groups will be developed in the next phase of work we do.

9 Finally you may decide to explore an aspect of the Welsh Woollen industry in more detail eg the use of packhorses, the tentering process, the role of the landed gentry in all of this, or the development of the sugar industry and the uses of sugar.

10 Please let us know what you have found or email the project team at info@welshplains.cymru to find out more, or to discuss your plans.

Emails to info@welshplains.cymru are welcome, in Welsh or English, and we will respond as quickly as possible.

Local research

So far Community Research Volunteers have investigated places across Mid Wales and parts of North Wales exploring to find evidence of the likelihood of dramatic increases in woollen cloth production in the 1700s. There are still opportunities to get involved in this mapping exercise and to research the Welsh Woollen Cottage Industry in your local area so that you can share it with other CRVs and the local community.

Brethyn Research Groups / Hidden History Reading and Research Groups 

Are you interested in setting up a local Brethyn Research Group or a Network in your area? We are developing this as a follow on from the Hidden History Research and Reading Group approach?

In consultation with local history groups in Mid and North Wales, and with local Libraries, we will be exploring setting up “Hidden History Reading and Research Groups” to increase understanding of the history of Wales and the wider world at this time.  

We will respond to interest in specific areas and explore ways that these groups can be volunteer led.

This need not be a long-term commitment as groups can be established for a few sessions to enable Community Research Volunteers to get together and share their approaches to local research and their findings.

A Google search will provide results of many books about Slavery, but we realise that we need to build up references and publications in Welsh. 

Please click HERE for the ‘Resources to Get Started’ which includes ideas for initial reading and places to visit.


Our Trainers and Advisors are here to help

The Learning Links International team are working with an international consortium of organisations including the Museum of Wales, the People’s Collection, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the National Wool Museum, as well as the Institute of Jamaica and the Museum of Jamaica, and a range of  academics from the University of South Wales, Bangor University, the University of the West Indies and Grand Valley State University in the Southern States.

This wider project focusses on the use of Welsh Plains after all the effort of the production in rural Wales, exploring the long journey that Welsh Plains fabric that was produced in Mid Wales, made to the coast of West Africa or on to the plantations in the Caribbean and the Southern States.  We are identifying the many traders involved in the supply chain of fabric as part of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the methods of transportation by land and sea. Then we will be looking at the uses for the fabric.

Community Research Volunteers are welcome to join in this exploration alongside local research.

The project team is supported as well with advisors from Newtown Textile Museum, the Welsh Place Name Society and Archivists who are taking a very active interest in what we are doing and very interested in what the project’s teams of Community Research Volunteers will find.

The Museum of Wales People’s Collection Team will be helping train us to build up and organise our research findings on the People’s Collection and will even offer accreditation. 


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