Page last updated at 06:50 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Pioneer's 'first' sleeping bag re-created

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The Euklisia rug was patented by Newtown entrepreneur Pryce Jones in 1876

A rug thought to be the world's first sleeping bag has been re-created and donated to a Powys museum.

The Euklisia rug - patented by Powys entrepreneur Sir Pryce Pryce Jones in 1876 - was exported around the world in the late 19th Century.

No examples of it survive, but researchers on the BBC's Wales and the History of the World programme recreated it using the original patent.

The rug, made from Welsh wool, has been donated to Newtown Textile Museum.

Documents in Powys archives in Llandrindod Wells show Pryce Jones sold 60,000 rugs to the Russian army.

Multi-millionaire

BBC Wales researchers have also found records of the rug in the Australian outback, and at missionary posts in the Congo.

Wales and the History of the World presenter Eddie Butler said: "It was great to see this Welsh first brought back to life.

"It didn't look anything like a sleeping bag today - it's more of a folded rug. But you can see it only needed a couple of fasteners to be more recognisable as a sleeping bag.

Eddie Butler (left) and Newtown Textile Museum Eva Bredsdorff
Eddie Butler and Eva Bredsdorff with the Euklisia rug

"However simple it is, it must have been a great bonus for troops - especially in places like Russia. I expect this Welsh invention helped thousands of soldiers to get a better night's sleep."

The rug featured a sewn-in blow up pillow, which would probably have been made of vulcanised rubber.

The recreated sleeping bag will be on display from when Newtown Textile Museum, already boasts displays of Pryce Jones artefacts, reopens in May.

Eva Bredsdorff, its curator, said: "I never thought I'd see a Euklisia rug as we don't know of any that have survived. It will go very well with the Pryce Jones collection at the museum."

Pryce Jones set up the world's first mail order business in Newtown, that boasted Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale as customers.

He went from a shop assistant to a multi-millionaire responsible for 4,000 workers and 250,000 customers. He died in 1920 at the age of 85.

The rug was recreated by Jane Beck, an antique cloth specialist from Tregaron in Ceredigion.

Wales and the History of the World will be shown on BBC One Wales on Wednesday at 1930 GMT.



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