Prince Charles has recently made an unexpected effort to save the dying Welsh art of clog making. The Prince of Wales attempted to save one of his principality’s traditions by helping clogmaker Trefor Owen find an apprentice to take over his business.
Mr Owen, a clogmaker based in Gwynedd, Wales, has spent the last 36 years perfecting his trade, and is one of the last craftsmen in the United Kingdom who can make the wooden shoes by hand. While the primary market for clogs is for use in Welsh dancing, Mr Owen also sells them internationally. But, at nearly 63 years old, he is worried about what will become of his industry after he decides to retire.
The clogmaker appeared on BBC Radio 4 earlier this year, to talk about the difficulties he faced while trying to find an apprentice to take over from him. After the broadcast aired, he received a phone call from someone who works for the Prince of Wales, asking for more information and expressing the Prince’s desire to help conserve this ancient Welsh art.
With this royal support, as well as financial backing, Mr Owen was able to find an apprentice, 21 year-old Gwilym Bowen Rhys, who is also from Wales. He is currently teaching Gwilym the skills of the trade, and despite it being early days, Mr Owen describes his new protege as “energetic and enthusiastic.”
A spokesperson for Clarence House said about Prince Charles’ involvement: “The Prince of Wales was keen to see the craft of traditional Welsh clog making continued, and so was very glad to contribute to help ensure that Mr Owen could recruit and apprentice.”
In the past, Prince Charles has expressed a keen interest in the preservation of culture and heritage, both of his country and others. He is a patron of numerous charitable organisations and trusts which work towards that, including the Cornwall Heritage Trust and The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts.