Cymraeg
List all records by:

A collection of interviews and photographs recorded by Women's Archive of Wales in 2013-14

Browse the interviews


Sorted by factory name

Lastex Yarn and Lactron Threads (LYLT), Rhigos, Hirwaun estate

VSE082 Mary Patricia (Pat) Howells, Dunlop, Rhigos, Hirwaun estate;Lastex Yarn and Lactron Threads (LYLT), Rhigos, Hirwaun estate

Pat recalls her working life on the Rhigos Trading Estate and how her father was an engineer at Dunlop's on the estate. She left school at fifteen to work in Dunlop's too where she trimmed mattresses and cushions etc. She handed her pay docket over to her mum. As a family, they lived in houses built for the estate workers. The workers didn't talk, it was work, work, work. Then she moved to Lastex Yarns and Lactron Threads (LYLT) - better prospects. She became a supervisor and then a forewoman. She remembers losing the top of her finger in Dunlop's. As supervisor helped with personal problems e.g. pregnancy. They used lots of French chalk which had to be blown off their overalls every evening. One hour of radio a day. Sports and Social Club - they played netball, and did archery. Also there were plays in the canteen. There was an annual Miss Dunlop's competition. She married a miner and left the factory when she was pregnant.
Dunlop workers in canteen 1950s: speaker, Pat Howells second from left  supervisor.Dunlop beauty competition 1950s  Pat Howells second from rightMiss Dunlop 1957 Contest in Dunlop Canteen. Pat Howells 4 th from rightMiss Dunlop 1957 line-up in Dunlop Canteen. Pat Howells 4 th from left.

Laura Ashley, Carno

VN041 Glenys Hughes, Laura Ashley, Carno;Laura Ashley, Newtown;Universal Shirt Co, Newtown

Glenys left school before her 15th birthday and began working in a sewing factory in Newtown. The factory made pyjamas and she was on three months probation when she started. She was still living at home. She hadn't been sewing before so she had training when she started and she quite liked it. The factory was called the Universal Shirt Company.She was there for five years before leaving to work in Laura Ashley in Carno in 1967. She began in Tŷ Brith, which was the original factory in Carno. The factory was nice she says, and there weren't many girls there at the time. It was small compared to the factory in Newtown, which was huge. Her wages at Laura Ashley were £9, 17 and 6d. So there was about 10s difference, which she says was a lot then. She began on tea towels and aprons, and she doesn't think they were doing clothes at the time. The day to day routine was a break in the morning and again in the afternoon and half an hour for lunch. There was a little canteen for tea and coffee and she took sandwiches in. They often went outside to eat their lunch. Glenys drove in to work. Later she became a supervisor and worked out the piecework rates for the machinists. She took redundancy before retirement age and went to work in another sewing factory in Newtown, until she retired at 65 in 1998.

VN040 Margaret Humphreys, Laura Ashley, Newtown;Laura Ashley, Carno

Margaret is from Betws y Coed originally and had kept a B&B there before moving to Carno. Her husband was from Carno originally and knew Meirion Rowlands, managing director at Laura Ashley, and he asked if there was a job there for her. Margaret said it was hard going into the factory, and it took her a while to get used to it. Everyone knew each other and she was a new girl. Every house in Carno had someone working there, sometimes whole families, husband, wife and children, if they'd grown up. She had two children and worked part time hours, 9-3. Her first job was on the overlocker, although she hadn't a clue how to use it. They gave her training and she says it took her six weeks to learn it, but in six weeks you knew quite a lot. Later she became a supervisor when the factory moved to Newtown and changed to soft furnishings. She retired at 60 but went back for a couple of years, not on the machines, but doing other things like customer service until she retired in 1999.
Part of this interview is available as an audio file
Read an English translation of this audio clip

VN039 Olive Jones, Laura Ashley, Carno

Olive was a nanny to Emlyn Hooson's children in London before returning to Carno and getting work in Laura Ashley in 1968. There weren't many working there then, about 20, and the girls were sitting in two rows by their machines. She doesn't remember her first wage but said it was more than she was getting as a nanny as she lived in then. She remembers when piece work came in and how hard it was, and that she worked during her lunchtimes to make money. They also came in earlier in the mornings to catch up with the work. She started on hems first, moving on after she'd learned how to do that, onto the button and button hole machines and the overlocker. The work wasn't monotonous, she said, because there were different styles and different amounts of overlocking, some of the dresses needing a lot, but things like skirts not so much. She was a machinist until she left to have her first child in 1979. She thought about returning as a machinist but the piecework had become so fast that one of the girls said to her “Oh, Olive, you'll never get your speed back up.” So she returned to Laura Ashley as a cleaner and later on worked in the canteen, serving food and cleaning until she retired in 2006
Women working in the Laura Ashley factory, 1980sOlive working at Laura Ashley, 1980sLaura Ashley women's football team, with Olive middle of the back row, 1970s.

VN002 Morfydd (Mo) Lewis, Laura Ashley, Carno

Mo Lewis and her sister Rosina were the first two sewing machinists for Laura Ashley, working first in Cardwells in Machynlleth, sewing for Marks and Spencers. She moved to Carno when she was 16 to work for Laura Ashley in the original factory and then in the new one, before relocating to north Wales in 1978. She describes Laura Ashley like working with a family, although in the early days the factory was very basic, with the kettle next door to the toilets, and the small workforce did everything, including the cleaning. She said making a dress could take a long time, with several attempts before the design was perfect. She and her husband were lucky enough to buy one of the new houses built by Bernard Ashley for the workers. Mo has always done sewing work, up to today now that she's retired.
Mo in Laura Ashley 'tea-towel' dress, 1960sMo with co-workers outside the factory, 'showing a leg,' 1960s

VN013 Gwlithyn Rowlands, Laura Ashley, Carno;Laura Ashley, Newtown

When Laura Ashley opened in Carno, Gwlithyn went there to work in the office, doing the wages. This was 1964. She left to have a baby in 1966 and then did outwork for the company until her son went to school, at which time she went back into the factory as a machinist, working 9am-3pm. Laura Ashley was adamant that the mothers were able to take their children to school and collect them again. Gwlithyn learned how to do clothes like dresses, skirts and blouses in the factory and had taught herself to do ovengloves and tea towels doing outwork. She describes her years at Laura Ashley as the happiest ones. Many members of her immediate family worked there and her brother Meirion went from the factory floor to company director. Gwlithyn worked as a machinist at Laura Ashley until she was made redundant in 1990, when the factory changed to making curtains. By this time, she was a supervisor. She got a call from the factory asking her to come back, which she did, firstly at Carno then later at Newtown and retired in 2011.
Part of this interview is available as an audio file
Read an English translation of this audio clip
Carno Show, Gwlithyn as the baby, c.1980.Laura Ashley, 'It's a knockout' with Gwlithyn in pink. Laura Ashley's son Nick in the background, 1970s.Gwlithyn's birthday in the factory, 1970s.Laura Ashley, 'It's a knockout' with Gwlithyn in pink, 1970s.Laura Ashley girls, with Gwlithyn bottom left, 1960s.

Laura Ashley, Newtown

VN041 Glenys Hughes, Laura Ashley, Carno;Laura Ashley, Newtown;Universal Shirt Co, Newtown

Glenys left school before her 15th birthday and began working in a sewing factory in Newtown. The factory made pyjamas and she was on three months probation when she started. She was still living at home. She hadn't been sewing before so she had training when she started and she quite liked it. The factory was called the Universal Shirt Company.She was there for five years before leaving to work in Laura Ashley in Carno in 1967. She began in Tŷ Brith, which was the original factory in Carno. The factory was nice she says, and there weren't many girls there at the time. It was small compared to the factory in Newtown, which was huge. Her wages at Laura Ashley were £9, 17 and 6d. So there was about 10s difference, which she says was a lot then. She began on tea towels and aprons, and she doesn't think they were doing clothes at the time. The day to day routine was a break in the morning and again in the afternoon and half an hour for lunch. There was a little canteen for tea and coffee and she took sandwiches in. They often went outside to eat their lunch. Glenys drove in to work. Later she became a supervisor and worked out the piecework rates for the machinists. She took redundancy before retirement age and went to work in another sewing factory in Newtown, until she retired at 65 in 1998.

VN040 Margaret Humphreys, Laura Ashley, Newtown;Laura Ashley, Carno

Margaret is from Betws y Coed originally and had kept a B&B there before moving to Carno. Her husband was from Carno originally and knew Meirion Rowlands, managing director at Laura Ashley, and he asked if there was a job there for her. Margaret said it was hard going into the factory, and it took her a while to get used to it. Everyone knew each other and she was a new girl. Every house in Carno had someone working there, sometimes whole families, husband, wife and children, if they'd grown up. She had two children and worked part time hours, 9-3. Her first job was on the overlocker, although she hadn't a clue how to use it. They gave her training and she says it took her six weeks to learn it, but in six weeks you knew quite a lot. Later she became a supervisor when the factory moved to Newtown and changed to soft furnishings. She retired at 60 but went back for a couple of years, not on the machines, but doing other things like customer service until she retired in 1999.
Part of this interview is available as an audio file
Read an English translation of this audio clip

VN013 Gwlithyn Rowlands, Laura Ashley, Carno;Laura Ashley, Newtown

When Laura Ashley opened in Carno, Gwlithyn went there to work in the office, doing the wages. This was 1964. She left to have a baby in 1966 and then did outwork for the company until her son went to school, at which time she went back into the factory as a machinist, working 9am-3pm. Laura Ashley was adamant that the mothers were able to take their children to school and collect them again. Gwlithyn learned how to do clothes like dresses, skirts and blouses in the factory and had taught herself to do ovengloves and tea towels doing outwork. She describes her years at Laura Ashley as the happiest ones. Many members of her immediate family worked there and her brother Meirion went from the factory floor to company director. Gwlithyn worked as a machinist at Laura Ashley until she was made redundant in 1990, when the factory changed to making curtains. By this time, she was a supervisor. She got a call from the factory asking her to come back, which she did, firstly at Carno then later at Newtown and retired in 2011.
Part of this interview is available as an audio file
Read an English translation of this audio clip
Carno Show, Gwlithyn as the baby, c.1980.Laura Ashley, 'It's a knockout' with Gwlithyn in pink. Laura Ashley's son Nick in the background, 1970s.Gwlithyn's birthday in the factory, 1970s.Laura Ashley, 'It's a knockout' with Gwlithyn in pink, 1970s.Laura Ashley girls, with Gwlithyn bottom left, 1960s.

Lewis & Tylor Ltd, Gripoly Mills

VSE051 Jill Williams, Lewis & Tylor Ltd, Gripoly Mills

Jill left school at 16 (1968) and started in Lewis and Tylor. She found the noise unbelievable (electrical and manual looms) and cried at the thought of working there. She stayed there 10+ years. She also did home work repairing belts. She describes and explains the skilled work in great detail. Calluses on her hands – no gloves. It was like rowing. Caring – wedding gifts etc. One group made rubberised belts on smaller looms. The men made pipes and hoses for aeroplanes. After having the children she worked part-time there. The story about the foreman and his dog. Piecework and doing quota of belts. Some rushing and poor quality of belts. Describes bouncing up and down when weaving. Some dangers – tripping, weights falling, Helping one another. They all liked one particular loom – made better quality belts. She wanted to keep her own wires – during the holidays the foreman would wrap them up for her. Different patterns – plain, purl, herringbone etc. She took a record player into work. Her clocking-in number was 60. Trips and great fun. Later there were many Indian (Kenya) workers – TB a problem and the factory was closed for a time. Story of one arranged marriage. She worked as a dinner lady too – story of the bag of money. Her mother and father’s work. She shows the measure and the needles she had. Effect on hearing. Further details of technique.
Part of this interview is available as an audio file
Jill Williams, on the right, training a young worker at the Lewis and Tylor Factory

Administration