Researching the Welsh woollen industry

Interested in the Welsh Woollen Industry?

Not sure where to start? The National Wool Museum can help

Our most frequently asked enquiries include-

  • You’ve got a nursing shawl and you want to know how and where it was made.
  • You’re tracing your ancestry and would like to know more about a woollen mill once in the family.
  • You’re interested in finding out more about the mill that you’re living in.

The National Wool Museum is housed in the former Cambrian Mills. The collection here comprises four Grade II listed mill buildings, historic textile machinery, textile collection, paper and photographic archive and a small library. You can visit the museum to see woollen cloth being woven on historic machinery and chat to our demonstrating craftspersons. You can also see woollen cloth production on site at the commercial working mill, Melin Teifi and at the listed 18th century working woollen mill, Esgair Moel, re-erected at St. Fagans National Museum of History. There is a selection of historic woollen textiles made in mills throughout Wales on display in the Textile Gallery. Our textile collection provides a very useful tool for identification of blanket patterns, dates and mills at which they were produced. The proposal for the development of a National Design Database aims to build on this, so that we can provide on-line access to our collection.

The main source of information on the welsh woollen industry is the book The Welsh Woollen Industry by J. Geraint Jenkins (Cardiff, 1969).

Two important reports are also available Report on a survey of the Welsh Textile Industry by William P. Crankshaw (Cardiff, 1927) and Rural Industries Bureau Survey of Welsh Mills (unpublished, 1947)

Researching ancestry and mill buildings is not straightforward! We do not possess comprehensive records of all welsh woollen mills or the families that owned and ran these mills. We do keep files on the mills of the Lower Teifi Valley and have information on some of the larger mills in our archive. Our own research and information gathering is ongoing in this area.

The National Wool Museum is the lead museum in Wales for the woollen industry but there is also collections relating to the woollen industry at St.Fagans: National History Museum.

If you require any further information, please contact Ann Whittall(029) 2057 3084

There are many other repositories and resources available for researching the Welsh Woollen Industry:

St. Fagans: National Museum of History
St. Fagans
02920 573 500

Collection of mill photographs in photographic archive; account books from various mills in archive; advice on textile conservation; advice on how to research historic buildings; oral history recordings of past mill owners and workers; re-erected 18th century working woollen mill, Esgair Moel library.

Welsh Mills Society
C/O Mrs. Hilary Malawas
Y Felin, Tynygraig
Ystrad Meurig
Ceredigion SY25 6AE

The aims of the Society are to study, record, interpret and publicise the wind and water mills of; Wales; to encourage general interest; to advise on preservation and use, and to encourage working millers.

Newtown Textile Museum
5-7 Commercial Street,
Powys SY16 2BL
01938 554656 / 01938 622024

The Textile Museum is housed in an early 19th century weaving shop when Newtown was a major centre of handloom weaving. The museum tells the story of the woollen industry in Newtown and Wales.;

Ceredigion Museum
Terrace Road
Ceredigion SY23 2AQ
01970 633084

There are welsh woollen textiles in their collection

Carmarthenshire County Museum
SA31 2JG
01267 228696

There are welsh woollen textiles in their collection

Royal Commission on the Ancient &
Historical Monuments of Wales,

Plas Crug,
Ceregigion, SY23 1NJ
Tel 01970 621200

Many books have been published on investigating your family tree and there are also many useful websites dedicated to this subject. A good place to begin your search and to get some useful hints are-;

The National Archives
Surrey TW9 4DU
0208 8763444

The Family Records Centre
1 Myddelton Street
London EC1R 1UW
0208 392 5300

There are many useful on line resources available to aid research, far too numerous to list, here are a few to get you started-

  • Archives Network Wales:
    This website contains descriptions of collections held at repositories in Wales and provides links to further information and details of other repositories.
  • Wales on the Web:
    Collections Wales is an online directory of research collections in Wales
  • Gathering the Jewels:
    This website holds over 20,000 images of objects, books, letters, photographs and other items from museums, libraries and record offices in Wales. There are many images of woollen mills and historic welsh textiles.

If you are interested in finding out more about textiles and textile machinery-

The Science Museum
Exhibition Road
South Kensington
London SW7 2DD
0870 8704868

The Science Museum has a vast collection covering the entire history of western science, technology and medicine- this collection includes textile machinery.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester
Liverpool Road
Manchester M3 4FP
0161 6060127

The Textiles Gallery is an interesting place to visit if you are interested in finding out more about textile machinery and the textile industry in Britain.

The Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
South Kensington
London SW7 2RL
0207 9422000

On its website the Victoria and Albert Museum is described as the world’s greatest museum of art and design. The museum has a textile collection dating from the 17th century to present day featuring contemporary British design and fashion.

Welsh County Record Offices and the National Library of Wales;

Anglesey County Record Office
Neuadd y Sir
Ynys Môn; LL77 7TW

Carmarthenshire Archive Service
Ricmond Terrace
SA31 3DS

Ceredigion Archives
Neuadd y Sir,
Marine Terrace,
Aberystwyth, SY23 2HE

Conwy Archives
Lloyd St.
Conwy LL30 2YG

Flintshire Record Office
The Old Rectory
Hawarden, Deeside
Clwyd.; LL15 1HP

Glamorgan Archive Service
County Hall
Cathays Park
Cardiff; CF1 3NE

Gwent Archives [Formerly Gwent Record Office]
Steelworks Road
Blaenau Gwent NP23 6DN
01495 353363

Gwynedd Archive Service
County Offices
Gwynedd LL55 1SA

Gwynedd Archives Service,
Cae Penarlâg,
Gwynedd LL40 2YF0

Pembrokeshire Record Office
The Castle,
Pembs., SA

West Glamorgan Archive Service
County Hall
Oystermouth Rd.,
Swansea, SA1 3SN

National Library of Wales
Ceredigion SY23 3BU

Woollen mills in production in Wales now include:

Brynkir Woollen Mill
Nr. Porthmadog
Gwynedd LL51 9YU
01766 530236

The Cambrian Woollen Mill
Llanwrtyd Wells
01591 610473

Curlew Weavers
Old Rectory
Rhydlewis, Llandysul
Ceredigion SA44 5RL
01239 851357

Elvet Woollen Mill
Cynwyl Elfed
Carmarthenshire SA33 6TS
01267 281336

Melin Dolwerdd
Dre-fach Felindre
Nr Newcastle Emlyn
Carmarthenshire SA44 5UJ
01559 370874

Esgair Moel
St. Fagans: National Museum of History
St. Fagans
Cardiff CF5 6XB
02920 573 500

Rock Mill
Capel Dewi
SA44 4PH
01559 362356

The Woollen Mill
Middle Mill, Solva
Pembrokeshire SA62 6XD
01437 721112

Melin Teifi
c/o National Wool Museum
Dre-fach Felindre
Carmarthenshire SA44 5UP
01559 371003

Trefriw Woollen Mill
North Wales
LL27 0NQ
01492 640462

Melin Tregwynt
Castle Morris
Pembrokeshire SA62 5UX
01348 891225

Sioni Rhys Handweavers
Hen Efail, Pandy
Nr. Abergavenny
Gwent NP7 8DS
01873 890441

Riitta Sinkkonen Davies Handweaving
Mathom House
Moorland Road
Freystop Haverfordwest
Pembrokeshire SA62 4LE
01437 890712

Snail Trail Handweavers
Penwenallt Farm
Nr Cardigan
Pembrokeshire SA43 2TP
01239 841228

Melin Trefin
33 Ffordd y Felin
Pembrokeshire SA62 5AX
01348 837235