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National Museum Wales buys historic Teifi valley woollen mill to ‘keep the industry alive’

18 Aug 2022 3 minute read
National Wool Museum and Melin Teifi Staff

National Museum Wales has bought a historic Teifi valley woollen mill to “keep the industry alive”.

Wool was Wales’ largest industry for hundreds of years, going back to the middle ages, but much of the heritage has now been lost.

The museum will be acquiring Melin Teifi in Drefach Felindre and their “fantastic array of machinery” as they close their doors after 40 years of traditional weaving in 2023.

“The retirement of Melin Teifi in 2023 will not be the end of the story, but merely the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the mill and of a continuation of the history and tradition of the woollen industry in Wales,” a spokesperson for the museum said.

Melin Teifi was established in 1982 by Raymond and Diane Jones following the closure of Cambrian Mills, where they had both worked for 18 years.

Two years later, Melin Teifi took up accommodation on the site of the old Cambrian Mills, which is home to the National Wool Museum in Dre Fach Felindre in the Teifi valley in Carmarthenshire.

The National Wool Museum plays a key role in keeping the tradition of wool weaving alive through maintaining and operating historic machinery and through the work they do with their craftspeople.

There are now only a handful of working wool mills remaining in Wales. As a result of Amgueddfa Cymru’s acquisition of Melin Teifi, the machinery and equipment will remain in situ and will be protected, maintained and used to continue with the tradition of wool making in Wales, they said.

‘National significance’

Raymond Jones, Melin Teifi said: “I think what the Museum is doing now is so important; they’re going to take the industry forward, bring in people to learn and run this factory, and keep the industry alive for the future.

“Drefach Felindre has been involved in the woollen industry for centuries. The fact that the Museum is here shows that it is at the heart of the woollen industry, so it is very important that it keeps going.”

Ann Whittall, Head of the National Wool Museum said: “The acquisition of these historic looms and machinery by Amgueddfa Cymru will ensure that the tradition of wool weaving in Wales will be protected for future generations.

“It will enable our craftspeople to continue their training and develop their skills as they produce high quality Welsh woollen blankets.

“Seeing these machines in full working order will enhance the visitor experience with visitors able to witness living history at its best, watching and learning from our craftspeople and hopefully inspiring the next generation of weavers.”

Daniel Harris, London Cloth Company, has been supporting the training of the craftspeople at the Wool Museum.

He said: “The purchase of Melin Teifi by Amgueddfa Cymru is of huge national significance. Ordinarily, what I’ve seen over the last ten to twenty years is that when mills close there’s no succession, the entire collection is then broken up, spread around the country with the most being scrapped.”

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