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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Laura Ashley museum tribute opens
An early publicity shot (picture: Laura Ashley archive)
An early publicity shot of Laura Ashley clothing
A three-year exhibition tracing the Welsh origins of the fashion firm Laura Ashley has opened in mid Wales.

Artefacts and pictures from its early days will remain on display in Llanidloes, Newtown and Welshpool until 2009.

The company's move from Kent to Powys in 1961 led to global fame, and by 1981 it had 5,000 shops.

It closed its old headquarters in the village of Carno in 2004, but still has a factory in nearby Newtown.

The exhibition opened in Llanidloes Museum on Thursday with items donated from the archives of Laura Ashley.

Next year the display will move to Newtown's Textile Museum and in 2009 to Welshpool's Powysland Museum.

Powysland's curator Eva Bredsdorff said the idea for the exhibition came from schoolchildren.

An early Laura Ashley shop. One of the pictures on display at the exhibition (picture: Laura Ashley archive)
One of the first Laura Ashley shops

"What Laura Ashley achieved as a person and entrepreneur is taught in some schools and we found that many children were interested in her as a role model," she added.

"Not only does the firm have strong links with mid Wales, but people are really interested in the history of Laura Ashley."

Included in the display at Llanidloes Museum are photographs, documents and artefacts and some of the company's early products, such as table mats and an apron.

Company founders Bernard and Laura Ashley opened their factory in Carno in 1967, as demand grew for their distinctive floral designs.

Clem Richards, 78, from the village, worked for the company for 21 years from 1969.

Laura Ashley
Laura Ashley set up the family-run company in the 1950s

"It was a great company to work for and Laura Ashley herself was thought of very highly by the 300 or so staff at the factory," he said.

"She was a lovely person and would pass the time of day with you - she was interested in our lives. Everybody was so sad when she died."

By 1981, when the firm moved into home furnishings, it had 5,000 retail outlets worldwide.

But the company ran into financial difficulties in the 1990s, and it was eventually bought out.

Laura Ashley died in 1985, aged 60, after an accident at her daughter's home.

Laura Ashley to make 43 redundant
27 Jun 06 |  Mid Wales
Laura Ashley clothes sales tumble
23 Sep 04 |  Business
Laura Ashley cuts 90 jobs
14 Sep 04 |  Wales


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