Travel Trade Wales

Laura Ashley

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Laura Ashley in Wales

Although her Welsh parents lived in London, just before her birth, her mother returned home to allow Laura Mountney to be born Welsh at her grandmother's home, 31 Station Terrace, in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil.


Early Life

She was raised in a civil service family as a Strict Baptist. The chapel she attended in Dowlais (Hebron) was Welsh language and although she could not understand the language, she loved it, especially the singing.


Educated at Marshall's School in Merthyr Tydfil until 1932, she was then sent to the Elmwood School, Croydon. She was evacuated back to Wales aged 13, with so many World War II evacuees there were no school places left, and she attended the Aberdare Secretarial School.


In 1942, she left school at 16, and served in the Women's Royal Naval Service. During this period she met engineer Bernard Ashley at a youth club in Wallington. After the war, Bernard was posted to India with the Gurkhas, and the pair corresponded by letter.


Life in London

From 1945 to 1952 she worked as a secretary for the National Federation of Women's Institutes in London, and married Bernard in 1949.


While working as a secretary and raising her first two children, she undertook some development work for the Women's Institute on quilt work. Taking up the craft she had learnt with her grandmother, part-time she designed headscarves, napkins, table mats and tea-towels which Bernard printed on a machine he had designed in an attic flat at 83 Cambridge Street, Pimlico.


Returning to Wales

When the third of their four children was born, the family moved to Wales in 1961, the country where Laura was born and had spent much of her childhood.


Laura Ashley's first shop was opened in Machynlleth, Powys (35 Maengwyn Street) - it still trades as an interior design shop, and the Laura Ashley association is commemorated by a small plaque. The family lived above the shop for 6 years before moving to Carno, Powys.


She is buried in the churchyard of St John the Baptist, in Carno, Powys, Wales.

Her husband Sir Bernard Ashley owned Llangoed Hall in The Brecon Beacons and it is a country house hotel.


Her daughter has designed a new range of fabrics 


There are branches of Laura Ashley throughout Wales and the UK, but one of the few outlet clearance shops can be found at Newtown in Mid Wales.

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