Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Newtown and district
The flannel industry
  From sheep to loom  



The hills around the Severn valley and the borders did not just support Welsh mountain sheep but also two local breeds - the Kerry hill and Clun Forest breeds.
The whole process of cloth making started with the shearing of wool from these upland flocks and the sorting of the wool into different types from the finest to the coarsest.

  The fleeces were then put through a willowing machine which untangled the wool, and then the wool was cleaned or scoured.
The next important stage is the carding of the wool. This used to be done by hand by dragging the wool between two boards set with metal pins (see left).
Originally the boards were set with thistles or teasels, but by the beginning of the Victorian period these had been replaced with metal pins.
This process made all the wool fibres face the same way to make the wool easier to spin. By this time also there were some water-powered carding machines in mills alongside the rivers of the area.

Kerry hill ram
  spinning wheelIn the 18th and early 19th centuries much of the spinning of the wool into yarn was done by hand on spinning wheels.
As the production of flannel increased and became more of an industry, spinning machines were introduced. Like the carding machines these could be powered by water, and so more of these processes could be done in one building.

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