Images of Wales
Thursday, 5 February 1998
Abbey Woollen Mill
Maritime & Industrial Museum
Photography by John Ball - 12.45pm, 5 February 1998
(with Agfa ePhoto307 digital camera)
This working woollen mill is housed in a museum. The mill was originally
established in 1873 by a man called Lewis in the blacksmith's shop of the
former Neath Abbey Ironworks. It was transferred to the museum in the 1970s.
After being washed and scoured, sheeps wool is brought to the mill where it is either
used in its natural colour (above) or dyed (below). It is then fed into the
willowing machine or willey where the matted fibres are opened up.
The softened wool is then fed into the hopper of the carding machine (above left). Here
the wool is pulled by rollers (visible above right) covered with kinked wire teeth which
separate the fibres. By the time the wool emerges it has been split into many strands
which are rolled into slubbings and wound onto four large rollers or bobbins.
The bobbins are loaded onto the spinning mule (above) which produces yarn by
drawing out the slubbing and twisting it to interlock the individual woollen fibres.
It is then suitable for weaving.
The yarn is woven into fabric on the weaving loom. The variously coloured yarns
are fed into the back of the loom (above left) and eventually emerge from the
front of the loom as the final fabric (above right).
Alternatively, after spinning, the yarn
may be made into double-ply knitting
wool, wound into convenient hanks (left).
Below: Some of the many products of the Abbey Woollen Mill, which include
rugs, shawls, tweeds, blankets and knitting wools.
- The postal address of the woollen mill [in 1998] was:
Abbey Woollen Mill,
Maritime & Industrial Museum,
Swansea SA1 1SN
- Telephone +44 (0)1792 650351
Update - March 2008
The former Swansea Maritime & Industrial Museum has been replaced by Swansea's National Waterfront Museum, built on the same site and opened in 2005. The museum no longer houses the Abbey Woollen Mill, but the mill equipment is being set up and displayed at the Gower Heritage Centre at Parkmill on Gower.
Update - March 2010
Some items from the Abbey Woollen Mills are also installed in the National Wool Museum at Dre-Fach Felindre, near Newcastle Emlyn. For further details, see the Museum Wales website.