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Newsletter 143 Winter 2023  © Hampshire Mills Group



Maesllyn Woollen Mill



Ruth Andrews
Photos by Keith and Ruth Andrews


Maesllyn Mill, near Newcastle Emlyn, was built in 1881 as a water-powered site with 3 Pelton wheels and it was one of the last new woollen mills built in Wales. It was deliberately modelled on contemporary Yorkshire practice, and equipped with a full set of machinery for processing wool from fleece to finished cloth. The water power was replaced by electricity generated by a diesel engine in 1952, with the mill being linked to the National Grid in 1956. Two new looms and a better (second-hand) spinning mule were purchased at that time.


The factory building itself has partly survived , although about 40ft of it was demolished. The remaining 7 bays are being refurbished and converted as a house, with new windows which echo the originals.

After closure, the mill became derelict, as seen below before the leftmost bays were demolished.

This image was taken from the Geograph project collection.
The copyright on this image is owned by Marion Phillips and is licensed for reuse under the
Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 license.

When Keith visited Maesllyn Mill in 1989 with SUIAG (see newsletter 131, winter 2020) it was open as a museum and he took quite a few pictures of the machinery (but not of the buildings!), as you see on the next pages. This was fortunate because subsequently the machinery was removed, some being taken to the National Wool Museum at Drefach Felindre, where it may be on display.  However it is impossible to say  as nothing there is labelled.


The owner very kindly allowed us to photograph a copy of the guide book which has survived from the millís days as a museum;  it gives a detailed account of the processes involved in cloth manufacture, along with an inventory of the machines on display.  She also showed us a handful of samples of colourful blanket pieces which were left behind when the mill was cleared.



In the 20th century the output was more likely to have been flannel for uniforms and workwear.  You can see examples displayed on the wall behind the machine here in 1989.  (I donít recognise the machine, so I canít tell you what it is.)

By way of thanks to the owner, I have sent her copies of Keithís 1989 pictures.




This finishing machine (gig mill) was photographed by Keith at Maesllyn in 1989. While we were looking through our current photographs taken in the National Woollen Museum we were very surprised to find the same machine. Comparing the 2 photos you can see that even the cloth displayed in front of them is the same.


A wool sack hoist (Maesllyn 1989)

All textile museums must have an example of the self-acting spinning mule;  this is the one displayed at the National Wool Museum. 

Did it also come from Maesllyn?





I believe that this is the willeying machine (photographed in 1989) which was listed in the guidebook that we photographed on our visit.  It was used to tease out the matted wool at the start of  processing and so must be very similar to a carding machine.

Other Welsh Woollen Mills visited, Keith Andrews


HMG visited Cambrian Mills and Tregwynt Woollen Mill in 2017;  see report in newsletter 118, autumn 2017.  They do not appear to have changed. 

The large Cambrian Mills at Drefach Felindre are still the National Woollen Museum ;  this is a view of the sheds.




Tregwynt Woollen Mill is still in full operation;  this view is along the original watercourse, although the water wheel is now only for display and the looms are powered by electricity.

Rock Mill (right) at Capel Dewi is loudly advertised on brown road signs, but the mill building with its large waterwheel is no longer accessible to the public and cannot be visited because its public liability insurance has lapsed.  The shop and storeroom suggest that it may still be able to produce cloth, or at least to be selling its old stock.


Alltcafan Mill at Pentre Cwrt on the River Teifi was said to be one of the finest Welsh woollen mills, powered by 3 turbines, with machines for carding, spinning, weaving, and other processes, and produced tweeds, blankets, and flannel.  By 1989 when SUIAG visited it was closed.  (I had forgotten that visit until I looked back at my Maesllyn photos and field trip notes and saw it). 






It now looks to be in the process of conversion to residential use.  However, the magnificent 4-storey building with a sloping roof extension alongside the river seen in the 1989 view (top) has been demolished, leaving only the smaller 2-storey building shown here (right).  We did not realise this until we compared the old and new photos.  


The erstwhile line shafting now decorates a wall.









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