Childhood summer holidays: the cottage stay near a Welsh beach and the much wearing a brown gabardine mac; endless search for places that might offer shelter and diversion from wet and gloomy weather; the Welsh Crafts Shop that, if we’re lucky, will have a cafe.
Back then, to my young 1960s’ eyes, Welsh tweed seemed very old hat. It had all the charm of the post-war-geometric-abstract-chemical coloured fabrics that my parents had taken to (fabrics which are now very popular again in vintage shops). I found the designs and colour palette distasteful then – too hectic for one thing – and I still do, though I can see they were meant to cheer everyone up after years of rationing and austerity; inspire a spirit of hopeful busyness and productivity.
So where does that leave my views on Welsh tweed now?
Well, it’s always good to revisit old dislikes and appraise the situation with fresh eyes. For a start there is no denying the fabulous quality of the product. This is reflected in the price. However, it really does NOT still need to be used to cover bags, purses or to be made into unfortunately shaped waistcoats. On the other hand, deployed as rugs and furnishing fabric, then we’re on to something. In fact Welsh tweed has been acquiring cachet in quite discerning quarters. And although I forgot to take a photo, the stair runners are perhaps the finest things the mill produces, especially the red ones. You can see some in situ HERE.
As for the reversible rugs with their traditional ‘portcullis’ designs, I’m suddenly finding I like them too – at least to the extent of buying four place mats in spring green for the kitchen table. I like the ‘cottage industry’ simplicity and well-made-ness, in much the same way that I like the 1960s pale oak ercol furniture (now being reprised) – just so long as it doesn’t come with its original overdone upholstery and cushions which often obscure the pleasing frames. So I’m also thinking that if anyone needs to replace original fabric on a piece of vintage ercol, then Welsh tweed could be just the thing – a refreshed ‘Arts & Crafts’ look. A little googling also reveals that another Pembrokeshire Mill has already thought of this. See what you think.
Solva Mill, as the sign proclaims, has been in operation since 1907. The workers’ clocking on clock is still in the old workshop foyer. For those who like wheels and gears, there is old weaving equipment all over the place, inside and out. You can read a bit more about the history of the mill HERE. Its situation is blissful, in a little valley up in the hills above Solva village. The overshot watermill that once powered the mill was restored in 2007 as part of the works’ centenary celebration, and there are hopes to get the whole system revamped to produce electricity. In return for free left over plastic yarn cones (see below), you can make a donation to the project. This meant that Super Puppy was able to leave the premises with a very satisfactory toy. A good morning out all round.
March Square #27 Becky’s March Square extravaganza is nearly over, so with this post I’m probably putting all my squares and circles in one basket. I think it’s safe to say there are more here than anyone can possibly count.
In which Six Go Potty In Pembroke With Cockapoo Puppy – holiday snaps #8
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell
37 thoughts on “Solva, The Oldest Working Woollen Mill In Pembrokeshire ~ And A Good Moment To Dust Down Old Prejudices”
The runners are wonderful, and considering the sort of work involved the price is more than fair.
I kept picturing them on a long gallery landing – which of course I don’t have in our cottage of interlocking rooms. A new house is required. The colours are so rich too.
Yes…The runners are really nice. I would hate to replace them when worn out. The countryside is lovely too.
I don’t think they would wear out very soon. Very robust material.
oh wow these are wonderful, and certainly more than I count. Think your last one might be my favourite 🙂
Saved best till last 🙂 Thank you, Becky.
Goodness, Solva! All I remember is the coast, climbing and abseiling one year ….
Abseiling! Rather anybody but me.
I loved it!!
…Enjoyed your post. For years, I kept a couple of large bags of wool ends from Solva, always intending to ‘do’ something with them — and lived near the ercol factory in Bucks, often visiting the in house shop.
They still have bags of wool ends and I was sorely tempted, but I imagined, that like you, they would most likely end up adding to the ‘intending to’ pile.
I loved the dyes, but found the carpet wool did not lend itself easily to tapestry – and agree with you about the limited range of subject matter it suits generally!
I like the simple design on the fabrics from the 60’s. Beautiful images, Tish!
Square crazy and I love it! 🙂 🙂 That red one is so cheery, though the blue would go better in the Algarve home. What’s a girl to do?
Choices, choices 🙂
I would but we’re on the verge of moving 🙂 🙂
A time to downsize then?
See today’s post, hon 🙂 🙂
I don’t think I was aware of Welsh tweed. I rather like it! Glad to see Super Puppy making an appearance too.
A thoroughly enjoyable read thanks Tish 🙂
My mother used to buy fabric and we had at least two sofas made of that exact fabric. In dark green. Certainly was good quality. I swear it never even began to wear out.
Oh my , there is a years supply of squares and circles here you have excelled yourself Tish. Ercol? I will have to google that one
Thank you, Pauline. Am all squared up! Btw there’s an ercol link on the post ‘now being reprised’ and also some Welsh Mill versions of same under the link ‘see what you think’ before the gallery of photos.
Been for a look see Tish. Nice clean lines and very functional look comfy too
I don’t think I’ve seen the tweed before, but I like the stair runners. I worked in a furniture shop in my teens so I know Ercol very well.
Ercol seems to be having quite a new lease of life. Even vintage pieces in need of much tlc cost a fortune.
Industrial makes such good photos!
There was lots of rust! Thought of your farm implements photos.
Reblogged this on Hutts New World.
Cheers, Pete. Thank you 🙂
Great post and images
Thank you, Pete.