Solva Woollen Mill, Solva
This mill was opened in 1907 by weaver Tom Griffiths, who moved equipment here from St Davids. The hamlet was already known as Middle Mill as it already possessed a corn mill, still standing south-east of the woollen mill.
The new mill’s waterwheel had a diameter of three metres (10ft). It was powered by the corn mill’s race, taking water from the river Solfach. The owners of both mills were related, avoiding arguments over use of the mill-race water!
The new mill processed fleece into fabric and featured small powered looms, a cropping machine, a flannel press and a hand loom for weaving stair carpet. Tom announced in October 1907 that he was “now able to turn out all kinds of Materials” at the Welsh Woollen Factory. Specialisms included “costume serges and heather cloths”, in all shades. Tom sought a “steady man” – experienced in weaving and unmarried – to work the hand and power looms in June 1908.
In July 1918 Tom, then aged 42, appealed against conscription to the armed forces, as he had a business and family to maintain. He received a six-month exemption, which ended after the First World War concluded.
The mill’s customers included Labour MP Ramsay MacDonald, who wore a suit of Middle Mill tweed when he was Britain’s new Prime Minister in 1929. Tom retired in 1950 and handed the business on to his daughter Betty and her husband Eric Hemmingway. Eric had trained with a Yorkshire worsted company and met Betty when he was stationed at RAF St Davids. They married in 1944.
The couple installed many electrically powered machines, some in a weaving shed built in 1955, and an oil-fired engine to replace the waterwheel. They eventually narrowed the mill’s range of processes, buying in yarn.
In 1986 the mill passed to Cynthia and Robert Grime and their son Tom. Tom and his wife Anna took over in 2006, restoring the waterwheel and later replacing the weaving shed. The mill specialises in rugs and other woven flooring. Visitors can watch the weavers at work on the Dobcross looms.
Postcode: SA62 6XD View Location Map