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Welsh fair trader who really beat the trend.

Byline: By Tryst Williams Western Mail

Fair trade goods may seem a quintessentially 21st century concern, tailor-made for today's conscientious shopper. The trend has seen a phenomenal boom in recent years. But S4C programme-makers believe a Welshman may have been behind one of the world's first 'fair trade' establishments - in the 18th Century. Over 200 years ago Iolo Morganwg, one of Welsh history's most colourful historical characters, owned a shop where he sold 'East India Sweets, uncontaminated with human gore'. Iolo, a stone mason and poet who was also responsible for dreaming up the Eisteddfod's druidic Gorsedd of Bards, banned sugar from the Caribbean from his shop because of the use of slaves in its production.

He was inspired by the ideas of the American Revolution and the subsequent French Revolution, but despaired at the fact that despite the political awakenings during this era, around 70,000 slaves were still being seized from Africa each year.

Fittingly, his shop was in Cowbridge, the Vale of Glamorgan market town which has since garnered a reputation as a magnet for the kind of upmarket shoppers drawn to fair trade and eco-friendly goods.

The claims are made in America Gaeth a'r Gymry (American Slavery and the Welsh), broadcast today on S4C.

Fittingly, Iolo Morganwg's home county of the Vale of Glamorgan is to launch a campaign to secure Fairtrade status today. Mark Richardson, Fair Trade Wales Co-ordinator said, 'Part of the criteria for being a Fairtrade county is to have a number of shops and cafes selling Fairtrade products. It's particularly appropriate then that the campaign will be launched in Cowbridge itself, where Iolo Morganwg opened what was arguably Wales' first fair trade shop.' America Gaeth a'r Cymry, will be screened tonight, at 9pm, on S4C (Welsh and English subtitles available)
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 24, 2006
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