The building at Cynwyl Elfed, which was originally a tannery of unknown age, was converted into a woollen mill in 1880. It has been known by a variety of names including Ffactri Lleine, Melin Dolwerdd, Factri Cynwyl, Greenmeadow Mill and today Elvet Woollen Mill or Melin Wlan Elfed.
In 1899 the Mill was purchased by John Jones who set about establishing a flourishing business and purchased the adjoining Lleine Farm. The Mill was extended closer to the river, and the former waterwheel was replaced by a more efficient 24ft version.
It was the custom in the early part of the 20th Century to purchase fleece from local wool growers, wash it in the river and, if required, dye it in-house. It was then spun, woven into cloth and finished at the mill. Flannel was the main product as there was a large demand for shirts and underwear for the heavy industries of coal and iron. Wool was considered a healthy material due to its ability to absorb sweat yet retain warmth.
In 1938 the mill was extended to accommodate more machinery. Records show that in 1947 the machinery consisted of a box type fulling machine, a hydro-extractor, a hand press, a heated dye pan, a warping mill and creel, a ‘cheese’ winder, a weft winder and 3 looms on the ground floor.
The upper floor accommodated a willey, a 60″ carding set, a Brooks and Doxey self-acting mule with 300 spindles and a Sykes ring twister.
In 1950 the British Wool Marketing Board was established and new laws meant that all wool fleeces were to be sold in Yorkshire. Welsh mills could no longer deal with the wool growers directly and wool merchants pushed prices up affecting many businesses.
The Jones were affected but persevered even after the death of John Jones in 1953. Around this time the mill joined the National Grid and the waterwheel and diesel engine became redundant and were removed.
The eldest brother Jack died in 1965 prompting further change. The spinning machinery was stripped out and the remaining brothers, Tom and Wallis, added two new 120″ Dobcross looms, a super cop winder, holt cone winder and a new warping creel allowing the mill to produce Welsh ‘Tapestri’ bedcovers and honeycomb blankets.
Tom died in 1976 and Wallis retired in 1981, selling the mill to Michael Tolputt who still runs it today. The name ‘Elvet Woollen Mill’ was retained and three 90″ Dobcross looms were added to produce Tweed Cloth and Travel Rugs. Production also began on an all new super quality honeycomb blanket, awarded the Prince of Wales’ Shield for excellence.