Caernarfon blankets, sometimes called Pwllheli blankets have been described as an oddity in Welsh textiles. In the centre of the blanket is a picture of the Old College, Aberystwyth University with the words ‘Cymru Fydd’ (Wales to be) above it, and a picture of Caernarfon castle with the words ‘Cymru Fu’ (Wales that was) underneath it. Above and beneath these pictures are two dragons and leeks; the rest of the blanket is then covered with leeks and daffodils.
There has been some dispute about the origins of the original design of the blanket. Ann Sutton, an authority on Welsh textiles, credits the original blanket to weaver John Roberts of Caernarfon, who presented the blanket to Edward VII (Prince of Wales a the time) in 1876 on a visit to Caernarfon to open the water works. According to Welsh historian D.G. Lloyd Hughes this can not be accurate as the water works opened in1868 and The Herald Cymraeg refers to a gift from John Roberts to the Prince of Wales in 1868.
John Roberts moved to Liverpool in 1879-80 and emigrated to America. Pwllheli Woollen Mill brought the pattern and patented the design in 1895. When they brought the pattern, the design only had a drawing of Caernarfon castle.
The drawing of Aberystwyth College was added later. Aberystwyth College was not built until 1872, but the drawing features the College building included in a design by architect John Seddons in 1885 that was never completed.
The family of Edward Davies-Bryan claim that he was the person who put in the first order for the blanket. The family had a great interest in Aberystwyth and Joseph Davies Bryan, his brother was a student there, but this is unlikely.
It appears that there were two different blankets – one only with the picture of Caernarfon castle possibly designed by John Roberts and the second one with Caernarfon castle and Aberystwyth College designed after 1885. It is unclear who designed the second blanket or what happened between 1880-1895.
This blanket used to belong to the donor’s great grandparents, Robert and Leusa Roberts from Deiniolen. Robert Robert Roberts (1856-1936) was a quarryman known as Bob Doctor after his father of the same name who was a doctoc at Dinorwig Quarry before the hospital was built.
Hughes, D.G. Lloyd, Haf 2002, ‘Carthen Pwllheli’, Y Casglwr, rhifyn 75
Roberts, Brynley F.,Gaeaf 2002, ‘Carthen Pwllheli a Choleg Aberystwyth’, Y Casglwr, rhifyn 76
Hughes, D.G. Lloyd, Gaeaf 2002, ‘Llythyr gan D.G. Lloyd Hughes’, Y Casglwr, rhifyn 76
Hughes, D.G. Lloyd, Gaeaf 2005, ‘Carthen Pwllheli’, Y Casglwr, rhifyn 85
Thomas, Dafydd Whiteside, Gwanwyn 2006, ‘Carthen Pwllheli a Melin Caernarfon a Phontrug’,
Y Casglwr, rhifyn 86