Site of tentering racks, Llangollen

Site of tentering racks, Llangollen

Walking along the towpath here in the Victorian period, you would have seen tentering racks on the opposite side of the path from the Llangollen Canal. They were used to dry new flannel under tension, ensuring that the fabric was smooth and consistent.

Tentering racks consisted of tall wooden posts in a straight line, with a horizontal bar connecting the tops of the poles. A moveable lower bar was also provided. The fabric would be attached to the bars using L-shaped tenterhooks. The lower bar was adjusted to keep the cloth under the required tension.

An Ordnance Survey map created in 1874 shows “tenters” in the field below the canal here. It shows five lines, running north-west to south-east; perhaps the field had five parallel racks.

The process was transformed by industrialisation but the phrase “on tenterhooks” is still used, to refer to being in a state of tension or suspense.

There were several fabric mills by the river in Llangollen in the 1870s. Two were downstream of Llangollen bridge: Dee Mill (north bank) and the Old Mill or Maesmor Mills (south bank). Mile End Mill, also producing flannel, was upstream.

Opposite the tentering field was a V-shaped notch in the canal bank, where there were moorings and space for narrow boats to turn around. This later became the entrance to Llangollen basin.

Today the Llangollen Canal is looked after by the charity Glandwr Cymru the Canal & River Trust in Wales.

Postcode: LL20 8SW    View Location Map

Canal & River Trust website – Llangollen Canal