Welsh wool and the Welsh woollen manufacturing industry was historically one of the most important industries in Wales. Why not spend a day exploring some of the fine woollen mills still remaining in West Wales? All of them have excellent shops and tea rooms as well!
For a few hundred years, the Teifi valley was the centre of a thriving woollen industry with dozens of woollen mills in the area and maybe over twenty in neighbouring Pembrokeshire. Today, only a few of these mills are still producing woven Welsh wool blankets and throws using age old looms together with traditional skills and methods of yesteryear.
There are two potential days out, one starting at the National Wool Museum of Wales in Drefach Felindre, Carmarthenshire and the other visiting Pembrokeshire’s two famous woollen mills, Melin Tregwynt and Solva.
National Wool Museum – Rock Mill – Jen Jones Quilts and Blankets – Jane Beck Welsh Blankets
The National Wool Museum is located in the picturesque village of Drefach Felindre in the beautiful Teifi valley. It is located in the historic former Cambrian Mills. Shirts and shawls, blankets and bedcovers, woollen stockings and socks were all made here, and sold in the surrounding countryside – and to the rest of the world.
Follow the process from Fleece to Fabric and visit the sympathetically restored listed mill buildings and Historic Machinery. A raised walkway gives a unique view of textiles in production at Melin Teifi, the site’s commercial woollen mill, while the Textile Gallery displays aspects of the National Flat Textile Collection. Families can have fun following the specially designed trail, ‘A Woolly Tale’, and create their own guide to making and using woollen cloth, trying their hand at carding, spinning and sewing along the way.
The cafe at the National Wool Museum offers visitors a range of food and drink in lovely surroundings.
Or you could do a longer tour and visit one of the following:
Situated in Capel Dewi near Llandysul this is the only remaining waterwheel powered commercial woollen mill still working in Wales. The power source is an unusual double cast iron overshot waterwheel 12 feet in diameter and 7 feet wide, made by the Cardigan “Bridgend” foundry, and installed when the mill was built.
Products woven at Rock Mill include tapestry bedspreads, blankets, throws, knee and travel rugs, shawls, scarves, and ties.
They are open to visitors as a tourist attraction from Easter to the end of October. From November to Easter they open by request.
The Jen Jones Welsh Quilts and Blankets shop has been established for a number of years in the beautiful market town of Llanybydder in West Wales. They have a constantly changing stock of over a thousand quilts and blankets mostly made between 1820 and 1939. They were handmade so each is unique.
The largest collection of Welsh blankets; new & vintage, anywhere in the world.
Visitors are warmly welcomed for a full on Welsh textile experience in the new 30s’ style Mill shop Ty Zinc. Copying the local vernacular for tin buildings erected for the roadmen & railway workers. It is packed with 1000s of blankets & Art Deco details. Bakelite fittings & stained glass. Free parking & copious coffee, an abridged version of the Welsh woollen industry & a glimpse at Jane’s collection.
A Welsh textiles destination. Customers are welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy in the hay field or enjoy a cuppa in the garden with views down the valley.
National Wool Museum – Distance from Manor Bedw: 20 miles
Melin Tregwynt – Solva Woollen Mill
Melin Tregwynt is a delightful white washed wool mill to be found in a remote wooded valley on the Pembrokeshire coast. There has been a mill on this site since the 17th century, when local farmers would bring their fleeces to be spun into yarn and woven into fine Welsh wool blankets.
They stock simple stylish clothing, accessories and bags, blankets, throws and cushions – all made in their own unique fabrics, together with other carefully chosen Welsh gifts, clothes and accessories.
The mill shop and coffee shop are open 7 days, for light lunches, locally baked sponge cakes, barabrith and welsh cakes and good Cappuccino coffee! Tregwynt is in the Pembrokeshire National Park and there are spectacular beaches, cliffs and coastal footpaths all within five minutes easy walk from the Mill
You can find Melin Tregwynt off the A487 Fishguard – St. David’s road. Entrance is free, they are open all year round, and you can see the mill working from 9.00am – 4.30pm Mon-Friday (with lunch break at 1.00pm).
Solva Woollen Mill is tucked away in a beautiful valley just upstream from the pretty coastal village of Solva. The mill has been in continuous production since opening in 1907 and is now the oldest working woollen mill in Pembrokeshire. They are the only woollen mill in Wales today specialising in the production of flat weave carpets and rugs using traditional skills of the past to continue weaving our future.
Visitors to the mill can wander through the weaving sheds, chat to the weavers as they are warping, splitting yarn or weaving. There is a mill shop redesigned in 2011 by renovating the original mill building; breathing new life into a space that once housed carding engines and spinning mules to now provide a warm welcome for visitors. There is a tearoom located in the old dye shed selling homemade cakes to be enjoyed in the old mill or by the waterwheel that was restored in 2007.
All entry to the Solva Woollen Mill is free.
They are open to visitors all year, 9.30-5.30 Monday – Friday.
Also, from July to end September, 9.30-5.30 on Saturday and 2.00-5.30 on Sunday.
The mill shop is a great source of gifts as well as carpets and floor rugs.
Melin Tregwynt – Distance from Manor Bedw: 23 miles