Trefriw Woollen Mills

Trefriw Woollen Mills


27 October 2011


SH 78097 63068; 53.15074°N, 3.82430°W


Trefriw Woollen Mills is a working mill and factory shop housed in a large 20th century building in the village of Trefriw in the Conwy valley.

In the 19th century, however, the mill was located higher up, on the banks of the River Crafnant, and was powered by two waterwheels. A 36-ft-diameter overshot wheel drove billies and jennies for spinning the yarn, and the cloth was woven on hand looms. A smaller, 7 ft wheel powered a pandy, or fulling mill. The fulling process cleanses, thickens and strengthens the woven cloth, and involved washing to remove dirt and grease residues and kneading with special wooden hammers to mat the wool fibres together.

Built as The Vale of Conwy Woollen Mill in 1820, the concern was bought in 1859 by Thomas Williams, who expanded the business. The mill is still owned and operated by the Williams family.

The present-day mill is lit and powered by its own 60 kW hydro-electric plant. This is fed via a 20-inch-diameter pipe from a reservoir created by a dam, built in 1952, half a mile upstream, which provides a head of 125 ft. The two Pelton wheel turbines, manufactured by Boving, were installed in 1942 and 1951. The Turbine House itself stands on the location of a former flour mill.

Trefriw Woollen Mills

Trefriw Woollen Mills

Trefriw Woollen Mills

Trefriw Woollen Mills

Turbine flywheel and V belts

Turbine flywheel and alternator

Outflow from the turbine

Boving Pelton Wheel Turbine

Loom with traditional Welsh bedspread

Trefriw bedspreads (1930s)

Trefriw bedspreads (1960s and 1970s)

Storage bins

Hanks of yarn





Winding a cone



Store room

7 thoughts on “Trefriw Woollen Mills

  1. Now this looks right up my street! I love old mills, having been round my fair share of derelict ones, as well as one of the last remaining active ones in Huddersfield. It’s the noise that gets me, absolutely deafening!


  2. I used to have a small knitwear business, so it’s very interesting to see a working mill and how the materials are the same, but the equipment is mammoth in and industrial sized weaving mill.


Share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.