The monks of Strata Florida Abbey owned vast estates in the Cambrian Mountains where they grazed sheep and farmers still earn a living today from producing Welsh mountain lamb and wool. By the mid 19th century, Ceredigion was one of the most important textile manufacturing regions of Wales.
Wool and Water Mills
Clothing and other textiles were made from local wool, from socks to distinctively patterned blankets and quilts in cottages and mills throughout the area. Wool was even used as a foundation for the Manchester to Milford Railway (now the Ystwyth Trail between Aberystwyth and Tregaron) across the marshy ground of Cors Caron.
The mills of Talybont in the north served the needs of the lead miners of the Cambrian Mountains. The mills of the Teifi valley in the south, with dozens of mills employing hundreds of men and women, supplied textiles to the coal mining valleys of south Wales and blankets and worsted uniform cloth for the soldiers during World War I. Rock Mill in the Clettwr valley (a tributary of the Teifi) near Llandysul was built in 1890. Today it is the only working, water powered, commercial woollen mill remaining in Wales. On the confluence of another three tributaries of the Teifi, is Drefach Felindre, where among a complex of former mills, is the Welsh National Wool Museum. Check in our events section for a range of events, activities and courses held at the museum, including sessions with artists in residence.
Visit the Tregaron Kite Centre to learn how local women gathered wool and made stockings from it.
Meet local artist and weavers who make creative use of wool today at craft fairs or visit them in their studios during the Ceredigion Art Trail.
There are also other mills to visit in Ceredigion - both Felin Ganol at Llanrhrystud and the Mill at St Dogmaels are working mills, producing flour. During National Mills Week in May, a number of other mills, most undergoing restoration, hold open days for visitors. Check our events listings for details.