Tremadog Manufactory, near Porthmadog

button-theme-textileThe five-storey building you can see beyond the yard here opened in 1806 as part of an innovative complex which turned wool into finished cloth.

Photo of interior of Tremadog Manufactory c.1991The ‘Manufactory’ was the brainchild of William Madocks, the young aristocrat who created Tremadog as a model settlement before creating the Cob to drain the lands of the Glaslyn estuary. New reservoirs in the hills behind Tremadog supplied water to his woollen mill, corn mill and fulling mill (where new cloth was cleaned and thickened).

The three-storey woollen mill (no longer standing) contained two carding mills, where wool fibres were processed to form strands for weaving. It stood at right angles to the Manufactory, where the wool was spun and woven. The building is close to Plas Tan-yr-allt, William’s home in Tremadog. He wanted the complex to impress his visitors.

He sent samples of cloth to an army buyer, and later ordered blue and scarlet dyes which would be “much wanted” at Tremadog. Blue and scarlet were prominent colours worn by the British armed forces at the time.

Building the Cob overstretched William’s finances, and he sold his Manufactory stake in 1810. The remaining partners fell out in 1812, as supplying “cloths” to the army was less profitable than expected.

Photo of interior of Tremadog Manufactory in 2023Textiles production at the Manufactory ceased soon after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 ended Britain’s war with France. The building was a tannery from c.1835 until the Second World War, when importing animal skins became difficult. It was also used for fellmongery (storing skins and preparing them for tanning). Local resident Reg Taylor was told by his mother that she recalled fleas coming at her legs from skins which would be left at the roadside to drain!

The local cobbler also worked in the tannery building. When Tremadog resident Wil Jones was sent as a small boy with shoes to repair, he was terrified by having to walk along planks placed over or alongside the smelly tanning pits (where new leather was pickled) to reach the cobbler.

The Hugheston Roberts family were the last tanners here. The building was then taken over by Samuel Beer and his family, who ran a laundry beside the yard. They may have had dry cleaning and dyeing operations in the old tannery. The Factory Inspectorate ordered the building’s closure in the 1960s, as it was substandard.

Attempts to restore and find new uses for the building came to nothing, but in the early 1990s the local authority installed a metal roof to preserve the structure. The wheels visible in the upper photo of c.1991, courtesy of Frances Voelcker, were on a shaft turned by the waterwheel. Belts connected the wheels to machines. The lower photo, courtesy of Richard Wyn Owen, shows the upper three storeys in 2023.

The yard is used by Colin Jones (Rock Engineering) Ltd., founded in 1972 to provide geotechnical and civil engineering, particularly in challenging locations.

With thanks to Frances Voelcker. Sources include ‘Madocks & the Wonder of Wales’ by Elisabeth Beazley, Faber & Faber, 1967

Postcode: LL49 9RG    View Location Map

Website of Colin Jones (Rock Engineering) Ltd