Museums, Heritage Centres, Mills & Places of Interest

There are a number of Museums, Heritage Centres and other places of interest related to the UK's wool and wool textile heritage and current craft & industry.

If you know of any, please let me know so they can be added to the list.

For now, I'm just going to list them all alphabetically.  Later it may be obvious that they can be grouped into categories.

IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ THE INFORMATION HERE BEFORE USING ANY LISTINGS ON WOOLSACK
 

Links checked and updated November 2015

The Wool Directory has a long list of 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 even cotton or silk mills! All offer the opportunity to explore the process of fibre to cloth and the lives of textile workers.

Working Georgian Mill with exhibits, workshops, tours, mill shop
Welcome to Coldharbour Mill, a 200 year old spinning mill set in the tranquil Devon village of Uffculme. 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.

Cotswold Woollen Weavers Filkins, Gloucestershire
Textile museum & mill, shops, galleries, exhibitions.
“Half the wealth of England rides on the back of the sheep.”
The history of the Cotswolds is a story of sheep’s wool and limestone.
For 500 years the sheep created the rolling Cotswold landscape, and money from the wool enabled the building of the mellow limestone churches, manor houses and Cotswold cottages we love so well. Generations of shepherds, wool merchants, weavers, quarrymen and stonemasons have all made their mark on this land, and, here in Filkins, Cotswold Woollen Weavers continues in this ancient tradition.
Cotswold Woollen Weavers has been in Filkins designing and making fine woollen cloth since 1982. We live and breathe the wool heritage that made the Cotswolds, and draw our inspiration from the soft colours of the Cotswold landscape all around us.
 
Curlew Weavers Woollen Mill  A working family mill (11 miles north of Cardigan between Llangranog and Newcastle Emlyn) specialising in producing a wide range of woollen products including fabrics, travel rugs, throws, blankets, bedspreads, shawls, ties, garments, made up curtains & upholstery. Other Welsh products in shop, also knitting wools.
We also sell lightweight travel rugs, throws, bedspreads, blankets, shawls, scarves etc. We have free tours around the mill (demonstrations by appointment only), a large craft shop, picnic area, parking for cars, minibuses and coaches, and toilet. Workshop access suitable for disabled access.  A selection of well-designed Welsh products at prices from 50p is also available in our shop.
 
Dales Countryside Museum  Hawes, North Yorkshire
Founded by Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby, writers of ‘The Old Hand-Knitters of the Dales’.
Housed in the former Hawes Railway station and more recently extended to include a purpose built museum complex, including circular exhibition/lecture theatre.
The museum displays an era of the dales way of life and traditions long gone including knitting.
 
Dumfries museum and Camera Obscura  Dumfries, SW Scotland
A smaller display here of the famous Sanquhar Gloves, but if you haven't time to visit the Sanquhar Museum (see below) then it's better than nothing! The museum is free, but there is a small charge to climb the stairs to the Camera Obscura, so an ideal place for all the family. If you ask at the desk, then usually there are the glove patterns, those produced by the SWRI, available for a small charge.
Nearby, just a short walk away, on the Nith Bridge is a little folk museum, on display there is a charming example of lace knitting, a pair of dressing table mats.
 
Farfield Mill  Sedbergh, Cumbria
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.
 
Gower Heritage Centre  Gower, Swansea
Woollen Mill.  At one time on the Gower sheep were a major source of fleece for the local industry and many farms had facilities for washing sheep prior to shearing.

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.

Helmshore Mills Textile Museum  Helmshore, Lancashire
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. 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
• Have fun and learn in an exceptional environment, at our many activities, events and special exhibitions
 
Museum of Carpet,  Kidderminster, Worcestershire
Welcome to the Museum of Carpet, opened in 2012 and dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Kidderminster’s carpet industry The Museum is run by the Carpet Museum Trust, supported by the Friends Association.  It is staffed by a small group of paid employees and many volunteers, all of whom will be delighted to see you when you visit.
On a Tuesday and a Saturday our power looms can be seen running also. £2.50 per concession/£4.50 an adult and £2 per child. 
We can be found on facebook under www.facebook.com/museumofcarpet  and on twitter. Our website is www.museumofcarpet.org. Ring for details: 01562 69028
 
Museum of the Welsh Woollen Industry  Dre-fach Felindre on Teifiside SA44 5UP
The Teifi Valley has been the centre of the Welsh woollen trade since the nineteenth century, and our mill at Dre-fach Felindre on Teifiside was chosen by the National Museum of Wales to house its Museum of the Welsh Woollen Industry, where Melin Teifi still produces the finest traditional Welsh flannel using top-quality materials and local craftsmanship.
 
National Wool Museum Llandysul, Carmarthenshire
Mill & Textile Gallery showing whole process from fleece to fabric.

Wool was historically the most important and widespread of Wales's industries.
The picturesque village of Dre-fach Felindre in the beautiful Teifi valley was once the centre of a thriving woollen industry, earning the nickname 'The Huddersfield of Wales'.
Shirts and shawls, blankets and bedcovers, woollen stockings and socks were all made here, and sold in the surrounding countryside - and to the rest of the world.
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.

New Lanark Visitor Centre  South Lanarkshire, Scotland, ML11 9DBThe award-winning New Lanark Visitor Centre tells the fascinating story of the cotton mill village of New Lanark which was founded in the 18th century.New Lanark quickly became known under the enlightened management of social pioneer, Robert Owen. He provided decent homes, fair wages, free health care, a new education system for villagers and the first workplace nursery school in the world! Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, New Lanark has been beautifully restored as a living community, which welcomes visitors from all over the world. Travel back in time on the Annie Mcleod Experience dark ride which features mill girl Annie who magically appears and reveals the amazing story of her life and times in New Lanark in 1820.

Exhibition where you can also see our historic Spinning Mule in operation, only now producing wool.
 

Newtown Textile Museum  5-7 Commercial Street, Newtown Powys,  SY16 2BL Mid-WalesThe Newtown Textile Museum is a great example of buildings erected in the area during the boom of the Flannel weaving industry. We want to show not only the process of fleece to cloth but the lives of the people that lived and worked in the area contributing to the History of Newtown. Please come and visit. We welcome your stories of family or ancestors who worked and lived here.  See also the facebook group

Rock Mill  Capel Dewi is north of Llanfihangel-ar-arth and south of Rhydowen. Sat Nav Postcode: SA44 4PH

Steeped in history & tradition, Rock Mill nestles in the heart of West Wales. On the very borders of Ceredigion & Carmarthenshire. This picturesque Nineteenth Century  stone mill was built by the present owners great grandfather, John Morgan. Perched on the banks of the Clettwr river. The last continuously water driven woollen mill in Wales. Four generations of the Morgan family have worked this mill, producing pure wool Welsh blankets, shawls & throws and of course the iconic Welsh tapestry bedcover. Using traditional methods & skills passed down through the generations. It is little changed since the Nineteenth century; Stone built with low ceilings & flag stone floors. Built on two levels and served by the impressive overshot water wheel.

Donald Morgan uses traditional methods passed down through his family and the mill is open to visitors for a small charge.

Sanquhar Tollbooth Museum   Sanquhar, SW Scotland

This little gem on the main A76 road to Ayr from Dumfries is the place to go if the famous gloves are your interest. Plenty also to keep the rest of the family entertained while you enjoy the knitting artefacts. There are many examples of  the Sanquhar Glove on display, together with, probably, all the old patterns ever printed on the subject. Socks and other items, as well as needles make up  this comprehensive  display. All the old patterns, pheasants eye, fleur de lys, to name but two are on display, together with knitted samplers of the patterns. In 1998, as the result of a competition entry by the Mennock SWRI, there is a cross stitch wall hanging displayed in the museum. It shows the history and features of Sanquhar, the borders of the panel is made up of all the known Sanquhar knitting patterns, worked in cross stitch. Free entry.

Nestled in the beautiful South Downs National Park and housed in a classic example of a 17th Century Sussex flint barn, this unique attraction gives you the opportunity to experience a traditional and authentic family run working farm, packed full of quintessential English charm.
With the world’s largest private collection of Sheep, visitors get the unique opportunity to meet over 50 different breeds – some closer to extinction than the giant panda!
Home spinners will find an extensive range of coloured fleeces.
Lots of extra special events involving the sheep
 
Sheringham Mo (Museum)  Sheringham, Norfolk
The Sheringham Museum is an independent museum, established to display, collect and preserve the history of the town and fishing heritage. There are also displays on the current developments in offshore wind farm technology, maritime preservation and marine conservation.
Exhibits include Sheringham ganseys (Fisherman's sweaters) and needlework pictures by John Craske, known as "the fisherman painter in wools". There is a quilt made by the WI showing local scenes. Examples of net making and mending and rope making are on display.
 
Shetland Museum and Archives  Lerwick, Shetland
Extensive display of Shetland wool textiles, also in archives
In the 19th century textiles became a commercial force in Shetland, enabling women to support family incomes. Because of this, islanders developed new products, and adopted imported tools and techniques to do the job. Our collection encompasses changes in style through the 20th century and beyond.
Fine lace was a prestigious product that made Shetland’s knitters renowned. The museum’s shawls and stoles are perhaps the most intricate garments you will ever see. Wealthy buyers in Britain valued these in the 19th century, including the aristocracy and royalty.
Fair Isle knitwear is the most famous product of these islands. However, many people might not know what “real” Fair Isle is. Our collection has examples, from pre-commercial garments c.1870, to the ever-changing fashion item of the 20th century. The museum has samples from knitwear’s sudden popularity in the 1920s, through later style changes, to machine-made items from the 1960s. Besides clothing, we hold textile tools, like equipment for dyeing, knitting and finishing.
Commercial weaving developed in Shetland by 1900. We have equipment from all stages of commercial weaving – washing, carding, weaving, quality control, record-keeping, marketing, export. Largest are two weaving looms, and most cosmopolitan are trade labels from all over the world.
 
Shetland Textile Museum - Böd of Gremista, Shetland
Independent community museum dedicated to Shetland’s textile cultures and heritage.
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.
 
Solva Woollen Mill   Pembrokeshire
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. Recent commissions include rugs for Llwynywormwood, Prince Charles’ Welsh residence, historic reproduction flooring for stately homes in USA and we are pleased to have been a supplier of rugs to The Landmark Trust properties for many years. Visitors are welcome to watch the looms at work and browse in the mill shop. If you can't visit us in person we have an online shop and are always pleased to answer any questions you may have
 
Stroudwater Textile Trust  Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Weaving Shed and Mills to visit

The Stroudwater Textile Trust was established in 1999 as successor to the Friends of Stroud Museum Textile Group. A group of local people wanted to promote awareness of the past importance of the woollen industry in the Stroud Valleys and to celebrate contemporary textiles.

Swaledale Museum  Reeth, North Yorkshire
Exhibits include knitting sticks.
The Swaledale Museum is an independent Museum run by volunteers with the aims of collecting, displaying and making publicly accessible the local heritage of Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.
 
The Cambrian Woollen Mill  Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys
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.
A fabulous state-of-the-art exposition takes visitors through 700 years of weaving history in “The Wonderful World of Welsh Wool”.  After your tour, browse in our gift shop where you can buy garments produced using the Mill's 100% pure Welsh woollen tweed and other interesting local produce, or stop for sustenance in our cosy restaurant. A recent addition to the exhibition is a crafts studio and gallery where visitors are free to peruse a wide range of craft items.
 
The Orkney Museum  Kirkwall, Orkney
The Orkney Museum tells the story of Orkney, from the Stone Age, to the Picts and Vikings, right through to the present day.

There are examples of Orkney wool textiles and tools used to process wool throughout the centuries.

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.
 
Unst Heritage Centre, Unst, Shetland
In our collection we specialise in Unst's unique heritage.
In the collection there are many rare fine LACE articles.  The Heritage Centre is fortunate in having one the best collections in the country.  A cache of fine lace garments, over 100 years old, was found and kindly donated to the Centre.  The items were very fragile but fortunately Unst still has ladies with the skill to replicate these garments and rescue long lost lace patterns.