PRESS RELEASE: SAVE backs urgent plan to list C19th industrialist’s house threatened with demolition

Villa is key part of Newtown’s heritage as Welsh woollen capital and birthplace of world’s first mail-order firm

20th September 2022

SAVE has written to Cadw in strong support of its proposal to urgently list a 19th-century industrialist’s house in mid-Wales which its owner has permission to demolish.

Croesawdy, a magnificent Arts & Crafts house in Newtown, Powys – once the woollen capital of Wales – was built in 1881 for Samuel Morgan Jr, who was heir to the Severn Valley Mill dynasty.

The mill, a massive stone building which once stood next door, was one of three in the town at its industrial zenith, but closed in 1904. All the mills have been demolished and Croesawdy is an important surviving link to Newtown’s Victorian heyday.

The fine half-timbered villa, with its turret, stained glass and period interiors, remains in good condition. Yet its owner was granted permission by Powys council under “permitted development rights” to demolish it.

After a fierce local campaign backed by SAVE, Cadw, Wales’ statutory heritage adviser, has moved to block demolition by announcing plans to list it at grade II. While a month-long consultation is undertaken the building has been placed under interim protection, making any damage an offence. The consultation ends on 21st September, with a decision anticipated on the 28th.

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has written to Cadw to strongly support listing.

In our letter we say: “The building is of high significance not only in its own right but in relation to its historic relationship with the town and Severn Valley Mills – the third and final great 19th-century steam mill in Newtown.

“As Cadw points out, the building was designed to be fashionable, with clear influences from the Arts and Crafts movement in its traditional stylistic references and high-quality finishes and fittings. The special historic interest both internally and externally is demonstrated in the grand central entrance hall with moulded archways and original fixtures and fittings, and plan form throughout.

“SAVE fully supports its recommendation for listing, which will in turn preserve it for future generations.”

Cadw said the building deserved to be listed “for its special architectural interest as a well-preserved example of a late C19th industrialist’s house displaying good use of design and materials, reflecting contemporary and regional architectural styles, and designed by the major architectural practice of the period in Newtown”.

The notice added: “It has special historic interest as a visible and prominent part of the late 19th- century development of the mid-Wales textile industry, a building that through its architectural character reflects the relative prosperity of the period.”

Newtown was also the birthplace of Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones, an entrepreneur who capitalised on the Penny Post and the arrival of the railways in his home town to create the world’s first mail order catalogue in 1861. Before long he was selling woollen goods to more than 100,000 customers as far away as Australia and America – as well as Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale – and was knighted for his success.

Carole Ryan-Ridout, a specialist in historic building conservation who has researched Newtown's development, described the building as “absolutely magnificent” and in a good state of repair.

“It represents the very zenith of Victorian craftsmanship, the ilk of which we will never get again,” she said.

“The date 1881 appears in the stained glass panel on the flank elevation. It occupies a prominent position in the street scene and its front apron, now tarmac, is probably a former garden as New Road was once considerably greener than it is today.”


Notes to editors:

1/ For more information contact: / 020 7253 3500.

2/ SAVE Britain’s Heritage is an independent voice in conservation that fights for threatened historic buildings and sustainable reuses. We stand apart from other organisations by bringing together architects, engineers, planners and investors to offer viable alternative proposals. Where necessary, and with expert advice, we take legal action to prevent major and needless losses.