Islay Woollen Mill

An operational textile mill in premises which date from 1883, the Islay Woollen Mill is located at Redhouses, a mile (1.7km) east northeast of Bridgend. Saved from dilapidation and re-opened as a family-run business in 1981, it weaves tweed to unique designs using a pair of restored looms powered by the River Sorn. Built in 1883 on a site where there has been a watermill for centuries, this two-storey L-plan building has been A-listed since 1987 and has an unusually complete interior, featuring machinery which is now rare. Two Dobcross looms dating from the 1920's and other equipment are all driven by overhead shafts turned by a breastshot iron waterwheel, some 4.8m (16 feet) in diameter. Some of the machines most-likely come from an earlier building.

Methods are traditional and the woven fabrics produced are much in demand by high-end designers, having proven popular with the film industry, notably including a tweed suit for Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump (1994), the kilt worn by Mel Gibson in Braveheart (1995), and the tartan attire of Liam Neeson in Rob Roy (1995).

The mill has been visited by HM Queen Elizabeth II, HRH Prince Charles (1994) and HRH the Princess Royal.


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