The story of an innovative building that led the world in the field of buying and selling by mail order will feature in the series Waliau’n Siarad on S4C on Sunday evening.

In the programme, Aled Hughes and Sara Huws travel to Newtown to uncover the fascinating history of the Royal Welsh Warehouse.

The warehouse was built in the 19th Century by local businessman Pryce Jones, and from then, goods from Mid Wales were sent all over the world.

“The Royal Welsh Warehouse is a big building with a great story” Aled said. “Pryce Jones effectively set up a company similar to today’s Amazon – but he did it 150 years before the internet was created. He used the latest Victorian technology – the railways - making Newtown a major centre of international trade at the time.”

County Times: Florence Nightingale, Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones and Queen Victoria.Florence Nightingale, Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones and Queen Victoria.

There were a few well-known names among the customers who were taking advantage of Pryce Jones’ new method of mail order.

“In 1862, large orders were coming in from Florence Nightingale; she was famous of course, and after that, her name was put on the company’s adverts in order to attract more business. That in turn created more orders. Later on, the Royal Family used the service. He knew how to use that to show others that he had the trust of the Royal Family,” local historian Nia Griffiths said.

Welsh woollen products were often sold, with the Russian army ordering 60,000 Euklisia wool blankets, which was a kind of simple sleeping bag. It is believed that, being the 1870s, this was the first ever design of sleeping bag.

Pryce Jones’ attitude towards the well-being of his employees was also innovative; he set up a society for them, which included football and cricket teams, bowls and a range of other activities. In 1887, Pryce Jones was knighted, and to celebrate the occasion the society organised a sports day for the staff, which grew to be an annual event.

The programme also looks at the architecture of the prestigious building, with its coloured windows and red brick from the local works of the Vron and Ruabon.

“I love how the all layers of history can be seen all at the same time. You can see decades of different people’s alterations, and that was precisely the intention of the architect of this building," said presenter Sara Huws, who specialises in the history of buildings.

Waliau’n Siarad: Y Royal Welsh Warehouse.

Sunday, February 9, at 8pm on S4C.

English subtitles available.

Available to watch on-demand at S4C Clic, iPlayer and other platforms. An Unigryw production for S4C