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Images of Wales

Where's that?? - locate the Museum of Welsh Life on a map of South Wales.

Museum of Welsh Life, St Fagans, Glamorgan

Page 1                   Page 2                   Page 3 (below)

Melin Bompren Corn Mill

Corn mill
Above: Melin Bompren Corn Mill. Built in 1852/53; re-erected at the museum in 1977.

This corn mill was originally located at Cross Inn, Cardiganshire. It is typical of hundreds of Welsh corn mills built to turn corn into flour. Most mills were water-powered and were situated alongside rivers or streams from which water could be diverted into a millpond. A sluice at the head of the millpond, operated by a lever inside the mill, controlled the flow of water into a wooden trough and onto the waterwheel (left).

Below: Bowler-hatted schoolmaster with his pupils.
Master and Pupils

Maestir School

The school was originally the St Mary's Board School at Maestir, Lampeter, Cardiganshire. It was a small rural school typical of the period when elementary education became compulsory for all children in England and Wales. Maestir School was in use from 1880 until 1916. Pupils were taught by a teacher (right), sometimes assisted by a pupil-teacher or a sewing mistress.

The speaking of Welsh was often banned in an effort to improve the children's examination performance in English, even though they spoke only Welsh at home. In 1847, in what became known as the "Treachery of the Blue Books", a Royal Commission reported that:

The Welsh language is a vast drawback to Wales and a manifold barrier to the moral progress and commercial prosperity of the people. Because of their language the mass of the Welsh people are inferior to the English in every branch of practical knowledge and skill ... Equally in his new or old home his language keeps him under the hatches being one in which he can neither acquire nor communicate the necessary information. It is the language of old fashioned agriculture, of theology and of simple rustic life, while all the world about him is English ... He is left to live in an underworld of his own and the march of society goes completely over his head.

Source: Report of the Royal Commission of 1847 (Part II page 66)

At the time, the resulting anger in Wales centred on the attack on the moral life of the inhabitants, but the attack on the Welsh language was equally important, having long term repercussions. When a system of elementary education was developed (Education Act of 1870) the Welsh language was totally ignored.

Below: Maestir School. In use from 1880 to 1916; re-erected at the museum in 1984.
Maestir School
Maestir School
Above: Children in the playground, supervised by the schoolmaster and pupil-teacher.

The number of pupils at Maestir School varied from 47 when it opened, to about 20 in the 1890s. The ages of the pupils ranged from five to fourteen, all of whom were taught in the single classroom.

Below: The 1890s classroom at Maestir School.
Maestir School
Photography by Venita Roylance, November 2002

Gwalia Stores, Ogmore Vale

Gwalia Stores
Above: Gwalia Stores. Built in 1880; re-erected at the museum in 1991.

Gwalia Stores was originally located in the Ogmore Vale near Bridgend, Glamorgan, and closed in 1973. The shop was opened as a grocery business by William Llewellyn in 1880. By 1916, Gwalia Stores comprised a bakery, ironmongery, grocery, gentlemen's outfitter, chemist, and an animal feed store. William Llewellyn died in 1924. The shop is exhibited as it would have appeared in the late 1920s.

Below: Gwalia Stores. In the right foreground is a photographer's studio.
Gwalia Stores

Llwyn-yr-eos Farmstead

Llwyn-yr-eos Farmstead
Photography by Venita Roylance, November 2002
Above: Llwyn-yr-eos. Built from 1820 onwards; opened as a museum exhibit in 1989.

This former tenanted farm is on its original site on the former Plymouth estate. The present farm dates from the 19th century but is exhibited as a substantial farm of the 1930s, with gas lighting and comfortable early 20th century furniture.

Below: Black-leaded cast-iron fire-grate in the kitchen at Llwyn-yr-eos.
Llwyn-yr-eos Farmstead

Workmen's Institute, Oakdale

Workmen's Institute
Above: Oakdale Workmen's Institute. Built in 1916; re-erected at the museum in 1995.

The workmen's institute was originally located at Oakdale, Monmouthshire (near Caerphilly). In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Miners' Institutes and Workmen's Halls were common features in the industrialised areas of south and northeast Wales. They provided a focus for social, educational and cultural activities.

In 1907, the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company started work on a new coal mine and model village at Oakdale. A decade later, a purpose-built library and institute was opened in the centre of Oakdale, funded by a Company loan subsequently repaid by the miners.

Find out more about Oakdale by visiting its community website at

Post Office, Blaen-waun

Blaen-waun Post Office
Above: Blaen-waun Post Office. Built in 1936; re-erected at the museum in 1993.

This tiny post office was originally located in the rural community of Blaen-waun, Carmarthenshire. It ceased to operate as a post office in 1963. It is claimed to have been the smallest free-standing post office in Wales. Mail was delivered to the post office from Whitland, the nearest town, and was then sorted and delivered by bicycle to the surrounding farms and cottages.

Below: The post-office interior, refurbished as it would have looked during World War 2.
Blaen-waun Post Office


Museum of Welsh Life - Visitor Guide, second edition published 2001 by National Museums & Galleries of Wales, Cardiff; ISBN 0-7200-0468-3


To Venita Roylance of Utah, USA, for permission to use two of her photographs of exhibits at the Museum of Welsh Life. Visit Venita's own feature on the museum on her website at

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