Modern Industry and Innovation

The modern industry and innovation collection covers the period from 1936 to the present day. The date 1936 was chosen as the "start date" for this topic as this was the year that the first Industrial Estate was opened in Wales. It was the Treforest Industrial Estate and its creation marked a change in direction to the way we work. A move away from the traditional heavy industries to lighter industry and factory work. This event is generally regarded as the as the first step along the road to the creation of the industrially diverse economy that Wales enjoys today.

The collection itself is very diverse as it reflects the rationale of being either Welsh produced or having a strong Welsh connection such as the inventor or designer.

The collection comprises:

  • Examples, photographs and documents relating to factories such as Hoover and Lego.
  • Examples, photographs and documents relating to the animation, tourism and nuclear power industries.
  • Representative collection of toys manufactured in Wales, including firms like Oxford Diecast that evolved out of Mettoy.
  • The latest innovations in Wales, including electronics, computers, the first breathalyser and even Kevlar underpants made in Cardiff which protect soldiers from land mines.
  • Lately recycling and environmental industries have come to the fore with Welsh firms leading the way in recycling various waste materials, such as plastic farm baling bags into park benches or decking, and another firm recycling disposable nappies into insulation and fibreboard for construction.
  • The Museum also collects ‘memories’ in the form of video testimony from people who worked in the factories, power stations, studios and tourist resorts. These ‘public histories’ are added to the National Collection so that the children of tomorrow can find out first-hand how we lived.

Modern Industry and Innovation

Ian Smith

Senior Curator of Modern & Contemporary Industry
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