National Woollen Museum
In the heart of West Wales. the Museum of the Welsh Woolen Industry tells the fascinating story of the most traditional of rural industries: wool.
the Wool Museum
When you enter the Museum you will find centuries-old techniques and technology alongside a thriving, working woolen mill, still producing for the modern market. Forty mills once clustered around Dre-fach Felindre. the Huddersfield of Wales.
the story starts with the shepherd
and the sheep
The Museum tells the story of this community which was dependent fur its livelihood on spinning and weaving.
the wool is cleaned
Forgotten skills, old ways of life. and newly-woven traditional fabrics can all
be seen. The museum houses working historical exhibits and offers visitors
regular demonstrations of the hand-carding. spinning, weaving and dyeing
processes that turn fleece into fabric.
to be woven into cloth
loom for producing cloth
Nineteenth-century carding and spinning machinery is operated to produce yarns that are then woven on hand and power looms to make reproduction fabrics.
The 1831 census states that in Carmarthenshire there were 260 male weavers of over twenty years of age, 'engaged in weaving woolen yarns produced by domestic industry’: no more than 14 were found in any one place. In 1850. the power loom was invented: as a result of this new invention and that of the new fulling machine, the industry flourished until the end of the century as never before. There was a rapid increase in the number of factories. and between 1860 and 1900 about 21 factories appeared in the two parishes of Llangeler and Penboyr alone. It was this period which saw the change from the domestic to the factory system in Carmarthenshire. The great deve1opment of mining and of the metallurgical industries in the south-east of the county and in Glamorgan provided a ready market for, and greatly encouraged, the woolen trade. On the other hand, with the specialization in the mining and metallurical industries, the woolen industry decayed in the south-east of the county, so that towards the end of the century practically every factory within Carmarthenshire was to be found to the north arid west of a line drawn from Kidwelly to Llandovery. with a marked concentration along the Teify and its tributaries.
supervisor and inspection
rotary steam press
an operating loom
Two major types of factory appeared. They may for convenience be classified as a) rural general factories, and b) non-rural factories. The rural factors, usually situated at the junction of highland and lowland at about 500 feet above sea-level, near a stream, had fairly good access to the surrounding highland and to the industrial south. A good example is Llanpumsaint. Such a factory was in a central position for receiving the local supplies of wool. and also at a convenient point for obtaining supplies of the finer English wool. Although these factories would usually produce a wide variety of products. such as blankets. quilts, carthenni, tweeds. and knitting-yarn. --- grey flannel for miners and industrial workers made up 75% of the output. The non-rural factory was usually of a larger type. employing between 50 and 100 people: it had good railway or road facilities. Such were those at Carmarthen. Drefach. Pentrecourt. Newcastle Emlyn, and Henllan. These. like the others, produced a variety of products. but specialized in the production of fine flannel for shirting, mainly from fine English or foreign wool, for they used little of the coarser local wool. They disposed of their goods wholesale, rather than by the more or less retail system of the rural factories.
the original water wheel power
replaced by the gas engine
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