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Wool Mills and Museums
including collections of textile machinery
and historical and archaelogical sites of the British wool and textile industries
Many of these are run by volunteers and enthusiasts, many are large industrial sites and others are collections of important textile history. Some are commercial spinning mills which have open days. Some are even cotton or silk mills! All offer the opportunity to explore the process of fibre to cloth and the lives of textile workers.
[England] [Scotland] [Wales]
 
England
ARMLEY MILLS
Armley Mills contains exhibits from the 18th century to the present day and tells the history of manufacturing in Leeds, including textiles, clothing, printing and engineering. The galleries and collections tell the story of a number of industries that have shaped the city we know and love today, from the recreated Victorian cottages through to the waterwheel. Visit our textile gallery, the milling room and fulling mill to find out more about Leeds' connection with the wool and cloth industries. Where: Canal Road Armley Leeds LS12 2QF
Opening times and more details: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/armleymills.aspx
 
BORDERS TEXTILE TOWERHOUSE
Are you a dedicated follower of fashion and design? Are you fascinated by mills, machines, and feats of engineering? Are you interested in textile arts and traditional crafts? Borders Textile Towerhouse tells the stories behind some of the world’s most famous fashions. Discover the Scottish Borders’ proud industrial past in a lively hands-on exhibition for all ages. Learn about the people, processes, craft and history behind the clothes we take for granted. Explore tweed and knitwear’s exciting fashion future, in our ever-changing catwalk display. Our friendly museum is open all year round, with a lively programme of exhibitions and events for the whole family. Admission is free, and we welcome school and group visits.
Where: 1 Tower Knowe Hawick TD9 9BZ
Opening times and more details: http://www.heartofhawick.co.uk/drumlanrig/
 
BRADFORD INDUSTRIAL MUSEUM
Moorside Mills was built around 1875 as a small worsted spinning Mill by John Moore. Ownership of the mills changed many times, and they developed and grew. In 1970, Bradford Council bought Moorside Mills from Messrs. W & J Whitehead to create an innovative museum. Bradford's Industrial Museum has permanent displays of textile machinery, steam power, engineering, printing machinery and motor vehicles, along with an exciting exhibitions programme. You can enjoy the splendour of Moorside House where the Mill Manager lived, or visit the Mill-workers' terraced houses dressed to reflect three different time periods. Our learning team runs regular workshops schools and groups, along with special events and workshops accompanying the exhibitions programme.
Where: Moorside Mills, Moorside Road, Eccleshill, Bradford, BD2 3HP
Opening times and more details: http://www.bradfordmuseums.org/venues/industrialmuseum/index.php
 
COGGESHALL MUSEUM
In the museum there is a working wool loom on which demonstrations are given from time to time and there is the opportunity to try your hand at weaving.
Where: The Village Hall, Stoneham Street, Coggeshall, CO6 1UH
Opening times and more details: http://www.coggeshallmuseum.org.uk/intro1.htm
 
COLDHARBOUR MILL
Built by Thomas Fox to spin woollen and later worsted yarns in 1799, Coldharbour Mill is a rare example of surviving Georgian architecture, industry and enterprise. Since reopening as a museum in 1982 the mill has continued to produce high quality worsted knitting yarn on its period machinery. Take a fascinating factory tour to understand how the hand processes of spinning and weaving are performed on machines and the role of Thomas Fox in bringing these new inventions into the South West. Learn about Victorian mill conditions and how Quaker attitudes influenced the treatment and welfare of mill employees, many of whom were children. Take a look at the mill’s impressive array of power sources including a recently restored 1821 High Breast Shot Water Wheel, the largest in the South West, an 1867 Kittoe & Brotherhood Beam Engine, a rare 1910 Pollit & Wigzell 300hp Steam Engine and a Lancashire Boiler, which we 'Steam Up' on special event days (see the museum’s event page). The mill also has a licensed café and mill shop that sells many unique products manufactured exclusively by the mill.
Where: Uffculme, Cullompton, Devon, EX15 3EE
Opening times and more details: http://www.coldharbourmill.org.uk/
 
COLNE VALLEY MUSEUM
Step back through time and spend a day at Colne Valley Museum which is housed in a row of weavers’ cottages, known as Spring Rock, built circa 1845. Many of the rooms have been reconstructed in their original form and are furnished and equipped to show the home life of a hand-loom weaver’s family of the period. Visit the Loom Chamber, Spinning and Cropping rooms to delve into textile history, and venture into the clog-maker's workshop with its full range of period tools. There's always something new to see in our Exhibition Room and often spinning, weaving and clog-making demonstrations.
Where: Cliffe Ash, Golcar, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD7 4PY
Opening times and more details: http://www.colnevalleymuseum.org.uk/
 
COTSWOLD WOOLLEN WEAVERS
The splendid 18th century buildings, in the idyllic setting of the tranquil village of Filkins, house the design studio, mill shop and gallery, textile museum and coffee shop. The beautiful cloth is traditionally woven, with textures and colours inspired by the limestone landscapes of the Cotswolds.The small wool museum has fascinating textile artifacts collected by the owners over the years and there are traditional looms in working order.
Where: Filkins, Nr Lechlade, Gloucestershire GL7 3JJ
Opening times and more details: http://ds.dial.pipex.com/town/plaza/hk67/index.htm
 
CROMFORD MILL
Cromford Mill, the world’s first successful water powered cotton spinning mill, was built in 1771 by Sir Richard Arkwright. From then until around 1790, he continued to develop the mills, warehouses and workshops, which now form the Cromford Mills site. Considered as a whole it presents a remarkable picture of an early textile factory complex.
Where: Cromford Mill, Mill Lane, Cromford, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 3RQ
Opening times and more details: http://www.arkwrightsociety.org.uk/
 
FAIRFIELD MILL
Four floors of inspiration await you in this vibrant arts and heritage centre housed in a restored Victorian woollen mill on the edge of Cumbria and Yorkshire - now the leading venue for textile arts in the North West. Heritage displays, working looms, regularly changing exhibitions, craft demonstrations, art and craft for sale by resident and visiting artists, workshops and events - plus delicious food in Weavers Café.
Where: Farfield Mill Garsdale Road Sedbergh Cumbria LA10 5LW
Opening times and more details: http://www.farfieldmill.org/  
 
HELMSHORE MILLS TEXTILE MUSEUM
Nestling side by side in the quiet village of Helmshore in the stunning Rossendale Valley are two original Lancashire textile mills, Higher Mill and Whitaker’s Mill, together known as Helmshore Mills Textile Museum. Here you can... Soak up the atmosphere of the historic mills and witness original machinery at work. Follow a journey to discover how raw wool and cotton were transformed into yarn, ready to be woven into cloth. Experience the Revolution gallery, where you can follow the story of Lancashire's unique role in the industrial revolution. Feel the grand and mighty waterwheel powering the stocks as they thump the wet woollen cloth.
Where: Holcombe Road, Helmshore, Rossendale, BB4 4NP.
Opening times and more details:
http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/acs/sites/museums/venues/helmshore/?siteid=3783&pageid=13002&e=e
 
MACCLESFIELD SILK MUSEUM AND PARADISE MILL
The Silk Museums in Macclesfield tell the definitive story of silk. Compelling exhibits on three sites show a working Victorian Silk Mill, costume and silk manufacturing displays. Paradise Mill is an award-winning museum with 26 jacquard hand looms. The mill has been restored to give an idea of working conditions during the 1930s when the mill prospered, including a design room and manager's office. The tie silk made on it's Jacquard hand looms was some of the finest ever made in Macclesfield - with up to 500 'ends' or threads per inch. Although built c. 1860, the mill was operated by Cartwright and Sheldon silk weavers from 1912 until 1981, and it is within this time period, 1930 to be exact, that the exhibitions and room settings have been set to illustrate life in Paradise Mill. Guided tours and demonstrations.
Where: Park Lane Macclesfield Cheshire SK11 6TJ
Opening times and more details: http://www.silkmacclesfield.org.uk/
 
MASSON MILLS
Sir Richard Arkwright’s 1783 Masson Mills at Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, England, are the finest surviving and best preserved example of an Arkwright cotton mill. Masson Mills house a fascinating collection of authentic historic textile machinery dating from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In 2010 the collection was described as “possibly the UK’s finest collection of working textile machines” and includes machinery originally from Masson Mills, along with a large collection of other items and artefacts from textile mills all over Britain.
Where: Derby Road, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire DE4 3PY
Opening times and more details: http://www.massonmills.co.uk/
 
MUSEUM OF CARPET
Based in Kidderminster, the Museum of Carpet has collections of machinery and documents from the carpet industry in the West Midlands and the wider UK. Wool and textile related events, evening lectures, childrens events and community events.
'The Carpet Museum Trust Archives Centre holds historical records relating to the carpet industry dating from the 18th century to the present day. These records cover all aspects of the industry and range from the archives of official bodies to small collections of individuals associated with the carpet manufacturing industry'. Also accessible online.
Where: Stour Vale Mill  Green Street  Kidderminster  Worcestershire  DY10 1AZ
Opening times and more details: www.museumofcarpet.org 
Tel: 01562 69028   
 
QUEEN STREET MILL TEXTILE MUSEUM
The world's only surviving 19th century steam powered weaving mill. Bringing steam powered weaving to life. On the outskirts of Burnley - a town once dominated by the textile industry, lies Harle Syke, the home of Queen Street Mill, the last surviving, operational steam powered weaving mill in the world. Owned by a workers co-operative “The Queen Street Manufacturing Company” the mill is a time capsule of the late Victorian age, which produced cloth using Victorian steam driven power looms until its closure in 1982. Discover the story of cotton cloth production. Whether you're interested in local or social history, textiles and textile machinery or just looking for an afternoon out with a difference, the sights, sounds and smells of Queen Street Mill brings the textile industry vividly to life!
Where: Harle Syke, Burnley, BB10 2HX
Opening times and more details:
http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/acs/sites/museums/venues/qsm/?siteid=3771&pageid=12932&e=e
 
RUDDINGTON FRAMEWORK KNITTERS MUSEUM
This is a unique complex of listed frameshops, cottages and outbuildings arranged around a garden courtyard with an adjacent former chapel in which many of the knitters worshipped. The site has been restored to show the living and working conditions of the framework knitters who occupied it throughout the nineteenth century. This is a working museum with machinery in use and the opportunity for visitors to ‘have-a-go’.
Where: Chapel Street, Ruddington, Nottingham NG11 6HE
Opening times and more details: http://www.frameworkknittersmuseum.org.uk/
 
SALTS MILL AND SALTAIRE VILLAGE
Saltaire Village is named after Sir Titus Salt who built a textile mill and this village on the River Aire.In December 2001, Saltaire was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Saltaire is not a monument. People live here - so it is open all the time! Sir Titus Salt built this amazing model Industrial Village between 1851 & 1876. The village consisted of Salts Mill, which produced 17 miles of cloth every day, neat stone houses for the workers, alms houses for the poor and needy, a girls' and boys' school and an institute, shops, wash houses, a hospital, churches and a park - but no pub - there was no drunkenness in Saltaire! The Village still stands and most of the buildings have survived even if their function has changed.
Where: Salts Mill, Shipley, Saltaire, West Yorkshire BD18 3LA.
Opening times and more details: http://www.saltairevillage.info/index.html
http://www.saltsmill.org.uk/index.php
 
STOTT PARK BOBBIN MILL
Stott Park Bobbin Mill is an industrial museum which explains the process of bobbin making in the Lake District. Near to the Lake District in Cumbria, this extensive working mill was begun in 1835 to produce the wooden bobbins vital to the Lancashire spinning and weaving industries. Although small compared to other mills, some 250 men and boys (some drafted in from workhouses) worked here over the years in often arduous conditions to produce a quarter of a million bobbins a week. The Drying Barn has a permanent exhibition tracing the history of bobbin making. Visitors can watch demonstrations of the working machinery which still produces bobbins for sale today, and experience the traditional skills involved in this authentic Lakeland craft.
Where: Colton, Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 8AX
Opening times and more details:
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stott-park-bobbin-mill/
 
STROUDWATER TEXTILE TRUST
Historically woollen cloth manufacture has been important in the Stroud valleys since medieval times. The Trust celebrates this proud tradition by: Running the Dunkirk Mill Centre near Nailsworth where a magnificent waterwheel drives some of the historic "finishing" machinery that we demonstrate there. Running the Weaving Shed at Gigg Mill, Nailsworth where visitors can experience handloom weaving before watching demonstrations of the flying shuttle and a power loom. Opening two other historic mills: St Mary’s has a large waterwheel and a Tangye steam engine, and at Stanley visitors can watch demonstrations of carding machinery and spinning mules in a grade 1 listed building.
Where: various around Stroud, see website for directions.
Opening times and more details: http://www.stroud-textile.org.uk/
 
STRUTT'S NORTH MILL
The historic North Mill on the River Derwent at Belper, Derbyshire, UK, is one of the oldest surviving examples of industrialised water-powered cotton spinning mills in the world. It is the forerunner of the modern skyscraper. The museum has one of the finest collections of hosiery on show along with examples of early hosiery knitting machines.
Where: North Mill, Bridgefoot, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1YD
Opening times and more details: http://belpernorthmill.org/
 
THE NATURAL FIBRE COMPANY
Commercial mill spinning small quantities of wool and alpaca. We hold Open Days each year. Please contact us for more details.
Where: Unit B, Pipers Court, Pennygillam Way, Launceston, Cornwall PL15 7PJ
More details: w: www.thenaturalfibrecompany.co.uk    e: enquiries@thenaturalfibrecompany.co.uk    t: 01566 777635
 
TROWBRIDGE MUSEUM
Trowbridge Museum is in Home Mills, one of the last working textile mills in the town. It tells the story of the town and its people. See a range of machines used in the local cloth making industry. The earliest a wooden spinning jenny from the 1790s and the latest a Hattersley loom which is demonstrated each Saturday.
Where: The Shires Shopping Centre Court Street Trowbridge Wiltshire
Opening times and more details: http://trowbridgemuseum.co.uk/
 
TUCKERS HALL, EXETER
Tuckers Hall is the home of the Incorporation of Weavers, Fullers & Shearmen and both the Hall and the incorporation have a remarkable story with a glorious and continuous history since 1471.
Tuckers Hall is one of Exeter's most significant historic buildings.  In the Upper Hall see the wonderful barrel-vaulted ceiling, wood panelling and carvings. On the ground floor learn more about Exeter's historical woollen cloth trade in our purpose-built interpretation centre, which includes interactive screens, information panels and a reconstruction of a fulling mill.
Where: Tuckers Hall, 140 Fore Street, Exeter, Devon, England EX4 3AN
Opening times and more details: http://tuckershall.org.uk/index.php
 
WHITCHURCH SILK MILL
Whitchurch Silk Mill is a 19th century water mill that continues to weave English silk fabrics using 19th century machinery. The Mill is open to the public and is one of Hampshire's top tourist attractions.  Whether you're machine-mad, an admirer of silk fabrics, a child learning about the Victorians, or just looking for a delightful day out in Hampshire, Whitchurch Silk Mill has something for you: the original mill wheel and Victorian machinery (some of which is usually in action), fabulous fabrics on the looms.
Where: 28 Winchester Street, Whitchurch, Hampshire RG28 7AL
Opening times and more details: http://whitchurchsilkmill.org.uk/mill/index.php/home 
 
WIGSTON FRAMEWORK KNITTERS MUSEUM
Wigston Framework Knitters Museum is an independent museum located in what was once a Master Hosier's house. To the rear of the property is located a two storey frameshop dating to the nineteenth century. The site contains evidence for a range of different structures, including an earlier frameshop, and buildings record the gradual evolution of Number 42-44 Bushloe End. The museum retains many of the original machines operated at the frameshop up to the middle of the last century.
Where: 42-44 Bushloe End, Wigston Magna, Leicestershire, LE18 2BA
Opening times and more details: http://wigstonframeworkknitters.co.uk/index.php?page_id=1
 
Scotland
KNOCKANDO WOOLMILL TRUST
Deep in the Spey Valley, Knockando Woolmill continues an unbroken 200 year old tradition, producing woven fabric on its historic looms. Knockando Woolmill has always been at the heart of the local community. Listed as the 'Wauk Mill' in parish records from 1784, the mill has since maintained its traditions of spinning and weaving through generations of families. It is steeped in local history, and preserves strong relationships with the farms, land and people of the area. Visit us here in Knockando and watch us bring the Woolmill back to life • Learn about the processes involved in converting fibre to fabric • Enjoy home made produce in the Café in the restored Byre • Choose from a range of unique products in our Shop
Where: Woolmills, Knockando, Aberlour, Moray AB38 7RP
Opening times and more details: http://www.knockandowoolmill.org.uk/index.htm
 
PAISLEY MUSEUM
Paisley holds a rare position in the history of woven textiles, and The Paisley Shawl Collection cared for by Renfrewshire Arts and Museums Service is a Recognised Collection of National Significance to Scotland. Hand loom weaving was a traditional industry in Renfrewshire throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. At Paisley museum research is carried out on traditional textile design and technology in the Weaving Gallery. You can see several of the various stages of the weaving process, and the loom working. The weaver can answer queries about the history of handloom weaving in the county and about textiles in general.
Where: High Street, Paisley PA1 2BA
Opening times and more details: http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/webcontent/home/services/leisure+and+culture/arts+and+museums/els-jcp-paisleymuseum
 
SHETLAND TEXTILE MUSEUM
Shetland Textile Museum is a community museum in Shetland – the only one of its kind dedicated to the islands’ textile heritage. Housed at the Böd of Gremista on Lerwick’s waterfront, the collection comprises over 500 knitted and woven items dating from the nineteenth century to the present day. Temporary exhibitions show pieces from new designers, and regular demonstrations of spinning and knitting make the STM a vibrant centre of Shetland’s textile culture and heritage. Visit us to see pieces from the collection in the historical exhibition; the brand new Design Room, which features the latest in from contemporary designers and artisans; the weaving room, and gift shop.
Where: Bod of Gremista, Gremista, Lerwick
Opening times and more details:
http://shetlandtextilemuseum.wordpress.com/
 
VERDANT WORKS
At Scotland's Jute Museum @ Verdant Works the rattle and the roar of the original restored machinery transports you back over 100 years to an era when jute was king and Dundee was its realm. Added to that is a stunning mix of film shows, multimedia technology and hands-on interactives.
Where: Scotland's Jute Museum @ Verdant Works, West Henderson’s Wynd, Dundee DD1 5BT
Opening times and more details: http://www.rrsdiscovery.com/index.php?pageID=130
 
Wales
THE CAMBRIAN WOOLLEN MILL
At The Cambrian, one can take a guided tour outlining the entire process involved in the production of the fine woollen tweed manufactured and produced at the mill, from the shearing of the sheep, through the cleaning and spinning of the wool, to weaving and final processing.
Where: Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Wales LD5 4SD
Opening times and more details: http://www.cambrian-mill.co.uk/index.html#
 
THE GOWER HERITAGE CENTRE
Over the last 6 years, work has been going on at the Centre to create a display which illustrates the history of the woollen industry in south-west Wales using restored equipment from the former Abbey Woollen Mill at Neath and the former Mill at Ammanford to show how fleece is turned into a finished fabric. Today there are no longer any working weaving mills in the area yet at one time there was a thriving industry employing hundreds of people. Little however, remains today of those times.
At the Gower Heritage Centre Woollen Mill we feel that is extremely important to keep these valuable techniques and skills alive today with regular demonstrations, workshops, talks and short courses suitable for all ages. We are currently demonstrating weaving on both the industrial (Dobcross) loom as well as an 8-shaft hand loom housed in our Woollen Mill. We can weave replicas of both the 'Gower' pattern and the 'Minka' pattern into scarves, cushions, shawls and small accessories.
We also hold demonstrations of carding, spinning using drop-spindles, historical examples of different drop-spindles, natural and kool-aid dyeing, weaving using rigid-heddle looms, tablet (card) weaving, inkle weaving, tapestry weaving, a range of fibres from different sheep, alpaca, camel, plants, rabbits, yak, dogs and more for you to feel and compare. 
The Woollen Mill is open 7 days a week with free carding and spinning facilities to 'have a go', we also have a dedicated Weaver/Spinner and Designer/Maker who is responsible for demonstrating as well as running courses, giving talks, and co-ordinating educational visits from primary level right up to University level.
Where: Parkmill, Gower, Swansea, Wales SA3 2EH
Opening times and more details: http://www.gowerheritagecentre.co.uk/woollenmill.htm
 
NATIONAL WOOL MUSEUM
Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the National Wool Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell. Re-opened in 2004 following major re-development, this flagship museum is a new and exciting place to visit with something for everyone to enjoy. Follow the process from Fleece to Fabric and visit the sympathetically restored listed mill buildings. There you can see Historic Machinery and brand new features such as the glass roofed courtyard. 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 for the first time.
Where: Dre-Fach Felindre, near Newcastle Emlyn Llandysul Carmarthenshire SA44 5UP
Opening times and more details: http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/wool/
 
NEWTOWN TEXTILE MUSEUM
The museum is housed in an early 19th century weaving shop. The exhibition looks at the process from wool to yarn, it tells the history of the woollen industry in Newtown, the consequences for the town and its people and it includes other related industries such as tanning and clog-making.
Where: 5-7 Commercial Street, Newtown, Powys, SY16 2BL
Opening times and more details: http://www.powys.gov.uk/index.php?id=2116&L=0#
 
SOLVA WOOLLEN MILL
The oldest working Woollen Mill in Pembrokeshire, Solva is now the only mill in Wales specialising in flat weave carpets, rugs and runners. This family business with over 100 years weaving expertise uses traditional skills and 19th century looms to create beautiful flooring to suit any interior. Visitors are welcome to watch the looms at work and browse in the mill shop.
Where: Middle Mill, Solva, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales. SA62 6XD
Opening times and more details: http://www.solvawoollenmill.co.uk/show/english/home.aspx
 
TREFRIW WOOLLEN MILLS
See the weaving and hydro-electric turbines at Trefriw Woollen Mills in the beautiful Conwy Valley, North Wales. Tour the working mill museum and see the machines on which the raw wool is transformed into beautiful bedspreads, tapestries and tweeds. We carry out all the processes from fleece to fabric, on carding engines, spinning mules, doubling machine, warping mill and Dobcross looms. Hand spinning is demonstrated in the summer season and there is also an opportunity to try weaving yourself on small hand looms. The Weaver's Garden has specimen plants which provide fibres, natural dyes, textile tools, soaps, and moth repellents. There is a solar dyeing exhibition in the Hand Spinner's studio.
Where:
Main Road, Trefriw, Conwy Valley, North Wales,  LL27 ONQ
Opening times and more details: http://www.t-w-m.co.uk/
 
 
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© CCANW and Claire Crompton 2011