From April 2006 the Centre has been undertaking a new project about the history of the Weaving and Woollen Industry in Swansea and the Gower Peninsula during the last few hundred years. Today there are no longer any working Weaving Mills in the local area, yet at one time this was an important rural industry employing hundreds of people in the various stages of production from the fleece to the finished fabric. There are several Weaving Mills throughout Gower and the Swansea area but little remains to be seen of this today.

A new display at the Gower Heritage Centre will feature working exhibits from the former Swansea Maritime & Industrial Museum, now replaced by the new National Waterfront Museum. In partnership with Swansea Museum Services and supported by an ERDF Objective 1 Grant through the Welsh Assembly Government, the Heritage Centre will create their own Woollen Mill in an existing craft display area within the grounds of the Heritage Centre. Utilising equipment from the former Abbey Woollen Mill at Swansea Maritime & Industrial Museum (and machinery from Cwmllwchwr Mill, Tirdail, Ammanford), the Centre will set up an interactive display about fleece production and how it eventually is turned into finished fabric. The Neath Abbey Woollen Mill was one of the last major mills in the area to close in the 1970s after which the contents of the Mill were moved to the Swansea Maritime & Industrial Museum where Swansea Museum Services kept all production going until the Museum was closed a few years ago to make way for the new Waterfront Museum.

The significance of the Abbey Mill was that it was one of the few Mills to carry out the entire process of fabric production from fleece to fabric under one roof. The Abbey Mill would even produce their own finished products specialising in making throws, blankets and, most famously, baby shawls. In Gower there were a number of smaller Weaving Mills operating until the 1920s. Most well known of all were the Mills operated by the Tanner family. These produced a unique Gower Blanket with a particular red weave pattern known as a "Minka". In Parkmill, near the Water Mill at the Gower Heritage Centre, a Fulling Mill was established in the 19th Century. Fulling is the process of washing the cloth to encourage shrinking. In Wales these Mills were called Pandy - many Welsh place names end in Pandy. At one time the Gower Peninsula sheep were a main source of fleece for the local industry and many farms had facilities for washing the sheep prior to shearing.

The new display at the Gower Heritage Centre will display items and equipment from the past industry, including a Dobcross Loom which was one of the main machines used in producing rolls of finished cloth. There will also be some real sheep to help show how the fleece is produced and information on shearing and how the fleece is prepared ready for weaving on the Loom. The project is being part funded by an Objective 1 Grant through the Welsh Assembly Government and will create new employment opportunities at the Centre during the Project timescale ending in June 2008.


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