Historic Machinery

The Museum houses a wide variety of historic machinery used in the Woollen mills of Wales.

From basic hand shears to modern equipment that transformed the industry, some of the machines can be viewed in full operation.

The electric powered Willower - the ‘willy’ or ‘devil’ - is used to disentangle wool with its large revolving drum, covered with rows of iron spikes, opening up the wool in preparation for carding.

National Wool Museum

Manufactured in the late 19th century (powered versions were invented in the 18th century), untangling wool previously involved hitting the fleece with willow sticks, hence the Willower’s name.

The Carding Engine at the Museum was used at Abbey woollen Mill, Neath. Also invented in the 18th century, it is used to prepare wool for spinning. The carding engines comb the wool after it has been willowed, preparing the fibres for spinning.

Cambrian Mills here at Dre-fach Felindre had four carding engines, 20 meters long and weighing 10 tons each. They were vital for mass production, because poorly carded wool would keep breaking when spun, wasting time and money, and reducing the quality of both the yarn and cloth woven from it.

The Great Wheel on display was commonplace by the 1300s. Operated by standing, they were relatively cheap to buy so that even poor families could afford one. The Treadle or Anglesey Wheel, a later and more expensive invention, allowed the spinner to sit down while working.

One of the many Spinning Mules originally at Cambrian Mills remains in the Museum today, used throughout the Golden Era of the business and into the 1960s to spin yarn.

You can also see:

For Carding, Spinning and Winding

  • Skein Winder - turns spun wool into skeins or balls
  • Self-acting Spinning Mule - spins the wool into yarn
  • Pirn Winder - Winds thread from cone to pirn for weaving

For Warping, Weaving and Finishing

  • Hand Loom, Dobcross Loom, Butterworth and Dickinson Loom - weaves the thread into cloth
  • Hattersley Pedal Loom - weaves narrow width cloth
  • 90” Dobcross Loom – weaves cloth
  • Teasel Raising Gig - raises the nap to make a soft finish
  • Hydro-Extractor (Wuzzer) – draws water out of the cloth, similar to a spin dryer
  • Open Width Scourer and Filtration Trough - Degreases and washes the cloth
  • Rotary Milling Machine - degreases, washes and shrinks the cloth
  • Tenter Machine - dries the cloth as it is carried through a series of hot steam pipes
  • Moser Raiser – raises the nap to make a soft finish
  • Rolling, Folding Machine - dolls the cloth into bolts, or folds it into pleats
  • Rotary Steam Press - used for a smooth sheen finish
  • Hot Press – gives the shawls a smooth finish
  • Cold Press - holds the press in until the shawls cool down



Dre-fach Felindre
April–September: 10am–5pm, daily; October–March: 10am to 5pm, Tues–Sat

(029) 2057 3070

Switchboard (standard rate): 0300 111 2 333

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