Itinerary Planner

Wool & Textile Heritage Trail

Newtown Textile Museum

The woollen and textile industry has a long history in Mid Wales, with a heritage dating back centuries. This region of Wales, with its rolling hills and pastureland, is renowned for sheep farming, providing the essential raw material for the production of woollen textiles.

Throughout the centuries, many communities in Mid Wales were home to skilled weavers, knitters, and dyers who practiced traditional techniques to create high-quality woollen textiles. The industry often relied on hand looms and cottage-based production.

Like many traditional industries, the woollen and textile industry in Mid Wales faced challenges and a decline in the 20th century due to changing consumer preferences and increased competition. However, there has been a revival of interest in traditional Welsh textiles, and some businesses have focused on producing high-quality, handmade woollen products.

The history and heritage of the woollen and textile industry in Mid Wales have become important aspects of the region's tourism and cultural identity. Many visitors are drawn to the area to learn about the traditional methods and purchase authentic Welsh textiles.

Please check the dates and opening times of attractions and events along this suggested trail before planning your trip to Mid Wales.

Wonderwool Wales, for instance, is the premier Wool & Natural Fibre Festival in Wales and is held annually on the last weekend in April at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys. Opening times of The Minerva Arts Centre will depend on events and exhibitions held throughout the year.


Melin Meirion Mill

In Dinas Mawddy, a village at the southern edge of the Eryri / Snowdonia National Park, is Melin Meirion Mill. Sheep and their wool have always been important to the local economy, and the hardy Welsh Mountain sheep can be seen dotted on the steep mountain sides. This connection is reflected in the Mill’s exceptional range of Welsh woollen goods, from traditionally woven throws and tapestry bedcovers in exclusive colourways to cosy sheepskin slippers. For the creative crafter they stock knitting wool, fabrics, buttons and ribbons. They also have various sizes of peg looms which are made in Powys, and have one available for demonstration. Freshly prepared light meals and snacks are served throughout the day, as well as delicious cakes and cream teas.


Welsh Blankets: One of the most iconic products of the Mid Welsh textile industry is the Welsh blanket. These blankets are known for their distinctive patterns and colours and have been woven in the region for generations.


Teithiau Cerdded | DYFI Walking Tours

While visiting this part of Mid Wales, contact Teithiau Cerdded (Dyfi Walking Tours) for a bespoke tour which brings to life the heritage of the wool industry.

Arfon Hughes has been guiding visitors on walks in the Dyfi valley for a number of years and one of the main local industries was wool cloth manufacturing. Sheep has been an important industry in the area for centuries and the Dinas Mawddwy Fairs were famous across Wales. From the 3 storey Wyle Cope loom house in the village of Dinas Mawddwy to the large water mill of Dolobran, and Meirion Mill ex slate splitting shed where the Meirionnydd Farmers formed the woollen mill co-op in the 50’s, to the current wool packing shed of Wool Producers Of Wales next door.  Dinas Mawddwy has been associated with the wool production industry as its natural sheep rearing country.

Arfon will tell you the story of wool in the area from its early beginnings to an international industry.


Newtown Textile Museum
50mins - 1 hour drive from Melin Meirion Mill and Teithiau Cerdded | DYFI Walking Tours (approx.)

Newtown Textile Museum building is a fine example of a typical early 19th century weaving shop. Originally there were six back-to-back cottages on the two lower floors, with two loom floors running the length of the building above. The six cottages would have housed a family each. Over the years many of these families would have worked in the weaving shop on the two floors above, either as handloom weavers or with associated work.

The museum has one floor is dedicated to showing looms, spinning wheels and the processes involved in turning fleece into flannel. The top floor has exhibits of local businesses including Pryce Jones, one of the early pioneers in mail order. There are also displays of the businesses of the town over the centuries. The lower floors show recreated rooms, and further information on the history of the town and its people.


While in Newtown, discover walks alongside The Montgomery Canal, an historic waterway which extends from Newtown for approximately 33 miles to its junction with the Llangollen Canal near Frankton Junction in Shropshire, England. It has a rich heritage, particularly in relation to the use of wool and textiles in the region.

The Montgomery Canal was originally built in the late 18th century to transport goods, including raw materials like wool, to and from the towns and villages of Montgomeryshire.

Along the canal's route, various textile mills, including woollen mills, were established to take advantage of the waterway's transportation capabilities. These mills processed raw wool into finished textile products such as cloth and blankets.

The canal played a significant role in supporting the local wool industry, providing a means of transportation for both raw wool and finished textile products. This helped boost the economic prosperity of the Montgomeryshire region during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Like many canals in the UK, the Montgomery Canal experienced a decline in the 20th century with the rise of road and rail transportation. The decline of the canal's commercial traffic also affected the wool and textile industries it once supported.

In the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st century, there have been extensive restoration efforts to bring the Montgomery Canal back to life.

The Canal & River Trust and their partners’ long-held vision for the Montgomery Canal is for a thriving and sustainable canal – a canal that benefits both people and nature. The continued restoration of this historic manmade waterway will give it a secure future for this and coming generations.


The Minerva Arts Centre, Llanidloes
50mins - 1 hour drive from Melin Meirion Mill and Teithiau Cerdded | DYFI Walking Tours
30 mins drive from Newtown

The market town of Llanidloes is closely linked with Laura Ashley, the fabric and dress designer. It was in Llanidloes that she began her first business, in a small shop on the main street. Perhaps fittingly therefore, The Minerva Arts Centre is owned and managed by The Quilt Association, which cares for over 250 antique and vintage (mainly Welsh) quilts. The centre is open throughout the year for exhibitions and art and craft events.

The Quilt Association regularly exhibits its quilts throughout the year and are a popular destination for quilters and those interested in the heritage and social history of quilting in Wales. They also run a programme of textile related workshops.

The Centre also hosts exhibitions featuring the work of contemporary textile artists and have a programme of quilting and textile art workshops.

Llanidloes is the first town on the River Severn and the source of the river can be accessed from the Hafren Forest. The surrounding Cambrian Mountains are fantastic for stargazing, with a number of locations designated Dark Sky Discovery sites. Nearby is the Clywedog Reservoir and Dam which is well-known for its fishing, Glyndwr's Way National Trail, Hafren Forest and many drives across the Cambrian Mountain ranges.

The weekly Llanidloes Charter Market has been run in the town since 1280 and is centred around Great Oak Street in the town centre every Saturday from 9am – 4pm. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the town developed a thriving flannel industry, but this went into decline in the first half of the nineteenth century. The collapse in the local textile industry led to a campaign for democratic rights and the town became notorious as a crucible of industrial unrest during the Chartist revolt in 1839.


Wonderwool Wales, Builth Wells
(40 minutes’ drive from The Minerva Arts Centre, Llanidloes)

Wonderwool Wales is the premier Wool & Natural Fibre Festival in Wales and is held annually on the last weekend in April at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys.

First held in 2006 to promote the market for Welsh wool and add value to product for small wool & fibre producers in Wales, the festival celebrates the green credentials of Welsh wool and its versatility as a material for creative crafts, designer clothes, home furnishings and more.  Wonderwool Wales has grown year on year. It covers everything from the start to the end of the creative process – from exhibits of sheep, through raw and hand dyed fibres, yarn for knitting & crochet, embellishments, equipment, dyes and books to superb examples of finished textile art, craft, clothing and home furnishings.


National Wool Museum, Near Newcastle Emlyn
1hr 45mins from The Minerva Arts Centre, Llanidloes
1hr 35 mins from Wonderwool Wales

From Llanidloes, head to the West Coast of Wales via Aberystwyth. It's one of the biggest towns in Mid Wales and home to the University of Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth Arts Centre and the National Library of Wales.

Travel down the Ceredigion coast and back inland to The National Wool Museum. Displays tell the story of the Woollen Industry through working machinery, archive material, and exciting hands-on displays and textile gallery.

Wool was historically the most important and widespread of Wales's industries and the National Wool Museum is housed in the historic former Cambrian Mills which made shirts and shawls, blankets and bedcovers, woollen stockings and socks sold throughout the world. The picturesque village of Dre-fach Felindre in the beautiful Teifi valley was once the centre of the thriving woollen industry, earning the nickname 'The Huddersfield of Wales'.

On your visit to the museum which holds the National Textile Collection, you can follow the process from Fleece to Fabric and visit the sympathetically restored listed mill buildings.

The Museum houses a wide variety of historic machinery used in the woollen mills of Wales including the electric powered Willower - the ‘willy’ or ‘devil’ - is used to disentangle wool with its large revolving drum, covered with rows of iron spikes, opening up the wool in preparation for carding.

The Carding Engine was invented in the 18th century. The carding engines comb the wool after it has been willowed, preparing the fibres for spinning. Cambrian Mills had four carding engines, 20 meters long and weighing 10 tons each. They were vital for mass production, because poorly carded wool would keep breaking when spun, wasting time and money, and reducing the quality of both the yarn and cloth woven from it.

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.

The National Wool Museum has excellent visitor facilities and a café and shop and not only tells the fascinating story of the wool industry in Wales but also supports the production of fabrics in traditional Welsh patterns by a working mill, which can be seen in operation within the museum.

Product Information

  1. Melin Meirion Mill

    Mill shop offering a huge range of traditionallly woven throws and rugs, outdoor & country clothing, knitwear, crafts & gifts. Refreshments available.

    Address

    Melin Meirion Mill, Dinas Mawddwy, Gwynedd, SY20 9LS

    Tel:

    01650 531311
  2. Teithiau Cerdded | DYFI Walking Tours

    Dyfi Walking Tours in southern Snowdonia takes visitors to iconic buildings, historical settings, marvellous countryside and remarkable human stories with the Welsh language at the heart of the tour.

    Address

    Southern Snowdonia & Dyfi Valley, Gwynedd, SY20 9TG

    Tel:

    01650 531237
  3. Newtown Textile Museum

    The Museum looks at the woollen industry, including looms and spinning wheels, and it's relationship to the town and its people and it includes other industries such as drapery, tanning and clog-making.

    Address

    Newtown Textile Museum, 5-7 Commercial Street, Newtown, Powys, SY16 2BL

    Tel:

    01686 622024
  4. Montgomery Canal

    The Montgomery Canal in the Mid Wales Marches is a haven for wildlife and tranquility with many Sites of Special Scientific Interest along the way.

    Address

    Welshpool, Welshpool, Powys

    Tel:

    01938 553271
  5. Minerva Arts Centre

    The Minerva Arts Centre in Llanidloes is owned and managed by The Quilt Association, which cares for a collection of antique (mainly Welsh quilts). The centre is open throughout the year for exhibitions, workshops and art and craft events.

    Address

    Minerva Arts Centre, 2 High Street, Llanidloes, Powys, SY18 6BY

    Tel:

    01686 413467
  6. National Wool Museum

    A working record of a great industry - see the traditional methods of making Welsh flannel, cloth and shawls.

    Address

    National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, Near Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul, SA44 5UP

    Tel:

    0300 111 2 333
  7. Wonderwool Wales 2024

    Wonderwool Wales is the premier Wool & Natural Fibre Festival in Wales with over 220 exhibitor stands showcasing Welsh wool and natural fibre raw materials to finished textile art, with exhibits spanning the entire creative process.

    Address

    Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, Powys, LD2 3SY

    Tel:

    01938 820495

Itinerary Distances

FromToDistance * (metric)
Melin Meirion Mill (52.70887,-3.69176)Teithiau Cerdded | DYFI Walking Tours (52.72424,-3.69624)1.56
Teithiau Cerdded | DYFI Walking Tours (52.72424,-3.69624)Newtown Textile Museum (52.51815,-3.31663)30.98
Newtown Textile Museum (52.51815,-3.31663)Montgomery Canal (52.65841,-3.14551)17.49
Montgomery Canal (52.65841,-3.14551)Minerva Arts Centre (52.44755,-3.53753)31.89
Minerva Arts Centre (52.44755,-3.53753)National Wool Museum (52.02495,-4.39902)67.73
National Wool Museum (52.02495,-4.39902)Wonderwool Wales 2024 (52.15412,-3.4017)62.75
Total Distance *212.36 miles
Estimated Journey Time6.84 hours

* Approximate distance by road

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