Welsh industrial emigration: The legacy

Emigrants outside Australia House, London
Emigrants outside Australia House, London

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, millions of people across the world moved to different countries looking for work. They wanted to improve their lives, try new working practices, or have adventures in different lands.

Many people left Wales and took traditional Welsh industrial skills with them. Some helped create continuing economic success in the countries they moved to. Some made huge fortunes, finding fame. Others led more quietly successful lives, settling down and raising families. Some returned to Wales after time abroad, others were never to see this country again.

Here we look at the various industries from Wales that supplied workers and expertise around the world. What were those industries and skills? Where did the workers go? What values and traditions did they take with them? What impact did their leaving have on the country they left behind?


Marc Haynes Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
17 December 2018, 11:25

Hi Lena,

Thank you very much for your enquiry. Our Principal Curator of Industry has contacted you using the email address you provided.

Best wishes,

Digital Team

Lena Williams
16 December 2018, 22:48
I've been researching my husband's N. Welsh family history, and have come across his nain's grandfather Jonathan Hughes, who was born in Holywell, Flintshire in ca 1822. He lived in the local area and was married and had at least four children. He was a smeltwork clerk. In 1861 he 'went to Spain to the Silver mines and never returned.' I presume that he died there, but are there any records from old smelting companies in Flintshire that could shed further light on this as I assume that he would have travelled as an employee of one of these. Or, would there be some other way of finding more information on this?
Lena Williams
Roger Lewis
3 November 2018, 12:27
I am researching my family history and in particular my grandfather David George Lewis who went to Russia to assist in the development of tinplaring iron. He left Llanelli in 1906, his family joined him in 1909 and they all returned in 1912 due to the growing political unrest. The family lived in a plush apartment overlooking Red Square where they had servant and a governess for their children. In fact one child was born in Russia. I am particularly interested in ascertaining who organised their stay in Russia and how their family were sustained during the absence of the menfolk. All and any information will be greatly appreciated.

Sara Huws Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
25 July 2018, 10:10

Hi there Jacquie - thanks for your enquiry. I will ask one of our curators to take a look, and get back to you.

Many thanks

Digital Team

Jacquie Jones
21 July 2018, 21:16
My grandfather Lewis Jones emigrated to Canada in or around 1880. One census lists the year as 1880 and another one lists the year as 1888. I can not find anything in the ship's records. How might I ascertain the correct date?
Marc Haynes Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
3 November 2017, 16:09

Hi Don,

Our Principal Curator of Industry has contacted you using the email address you provided.

Thank you for your query,

Digital Team

Don Finlayson
2 November 2017, 12:02
Hello from Canada,
I am researching the history of the Daniel Lewis John family who came to Canada from Wales around 1930. They settled in Hamilton, Ontario and Daniel found work in the new steel industries in the city. My question concerns some trips John made in the 1920's to India and Australia. In 1925 there is a record of him travelling from Sydney to London. He is listed on the records as a "tinsmith". In 1926 there is a record of him travelling from London to Yokahama with the note, "contracted to land at Bombay". He is listed as a "tin plater". He travelled on the Peninsula and Orient Steam Navigation Company ship, the "Mantua". He 1928 he went from Calcutta to London on board the "Morvada", a ship operated by the British India Steam Navigation Company. He was listed as a "tin plater".
Why would he be making these trips? Did the company he worked for in Wales send men out to the far reaches of the Empire to help start up some new industries? Any information you could give me would be a big help.
Thank you.
Don Finlayson

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