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Mill History


In 1900 there were 26 woollen mills in the county of Pembrokeshire. Moved to its present site from St. Davids in 1907 by Tom Griffiths, the new purpose built factory was powered by a 10 foot overshot water-wheel. It was equipped with the machinery to process fleece into fabric, a number of small powered looms and a hand loom for weaving stair carpet, a cropping machine and a flannel press.


Warping was carried out on a peg frame. The finishing of the cloth was initially carried out at a local fulling mill before the mill invested in its own fulling machine. Producing tweeds, flannel, blankets, hand woven stair carpets and wool for knitting the mill was kept busy supplying both local demand and visitors from further a field; In 1929 the then Prime Minister the Rt. Hon J. Ramsey MacDonald MP had a suit woven from Middle Mill tweed.

In 1944 Betty, Tom's daughter married Eric Hemmingway, a colour matcher trained in a Cleckheaton worsted spinning firm, who she had met while he was stationed at St. Davids airfield during the war. When Tom Griffiths retired in 1950 Betty and Eric took over the running of the mill. Eric soon recognised the market for weaving and fitting carpets and transferred carpet production to the powered looms. They expanded the factory re-equipping with larger looms and a more modern warper. The water-wheel was replaced with a 'Ruston' oil fired engine. The introduction of mains electricity in the early 1960's saw another weaving shed being built and the looms again being replaced. In 1968 it is recorded that the mill was equipped with; one small willeying machine; a carding set consisting of a hand feed; a 48-inch two-part scribbler; an Apperley intermediate feed; a 48-inch two-part carder with single rubber condenser giving 22 good threads; one 80 spindle hand mule; a super-cop weft winder; a hank making machine, a 152 inch warping mill and creel; four large powered looms and one small 48 inch loom.


More stringent health and safety regulations saw the scrapping of all the whole carding and spinning plant, it being more economical to buy in ready - spun and dyed yarn. The finishing was once again done off site. By the 1970's most of the mill's production was carpeting and the mill had a shop in St.Davids catering for the increasingly important tourist trade.

In 1986 Betty and Eric decided it was time to retire. Having no immediate family to continue the business, the mill was sold to the Grime family and Eric stayed on as a consultant passing on his many years of experience to the new owners. Cynthia, Robert and their son Tom were determined to maintain the reputation that the mill had for quality woven goods.

A steady programme of refurbishment saw the connection of mains water and a telephone for the first time. More looms were purchased, and part of the old mill converted into a tea room. A new larger car park with a footbridge over the river was constructed.

The mill was taken over by Tom and his wife Anna in 2006. To celebrate the mills centenary in 2007 the original waterwheel was restored and provides, along with a new outdoor seating area, another attraction at the mill.

In 2011 the restoration of the old mill was finished it is now home to our new shop and tea room.

Solva Woollen Mill is now the oldest working woollen mill in Pembrokeshire - one of only two remaining in the county.

During recent years the mill has outgrown it's "temporary" weaving shed built in 1955! So after some careful planning a three stage expansion plan was developed. Phase 1 is now complete and home to the warping equipment.

There is also some wool storage.


British Wool Marketing Board
Campaign for Wool