My Cart

Close

Knockando Woolmill SCOTLAND

Introduction

Knockando Woolmill sits in the Spey Valley, on the same site it has occupied for over 230 years. Fresh, contemporary designs are woven alongside traditional tweeds and classic woollen blankets - all produced with the same attention to detail and skilled craftsmanship that has been at the heart of the Woolmill since the beginning.

Our Story

Originally part of a small croft, the Woolmill was passed down through generations of families who worked the land as well as carding, spinning and weaving with the local wool. Listed as the 'Wauk Mill' in parish records from 1784, the Woolmill still uses machinery dating from 1870 as well as more efficient, modern machinery.

The Woolmill is one of the few surviving examples of a traditional district mill, and worked with local farmers by converting the fleece from their sheep into cloth and blankets.

The Woolmill is now developing new products as well as re-vitalising old ones, such as the production of natural knitting yarns and bespoke tartans & tweeds. 

Timeline

1784
1865
1870
1903
1904
1915
1930
1971
1976
2000
2012
2014
2016
2017

The Waulk Mill

William and Anne Grant were the first recorded tenants at the Woolmill, known then as the Waulk Mill. 'Waulking' means cloth fulling/shrinking but their activities may also have included one or all of wool washing, dyeing and carding.

The Grants would have made their living between mill activity and working their land, about 25 acres - a pattern continuing almost to the present. They held an agricultural tenancy from the local estate, which included a mill building.

A.Smith and Son

The 1865 census shows Alexander Smith as resident - he founded A. Smith & Son, the company name until 1975. The Smiths had come from Premnay, Aberdeenshire.

Alexander Smith set about an ambitious programme of modernisation. Water power is installed at the Woolmill around this time, the large waterwheel replacing muscle power inside the mill.

The Growing Business

New machines were bought to increase production. The spinning mule is dated 1870, and is believed to have come new to the mill. This is the same machine that is used to make all of our knitting yarns.

Alexander Smith's children, Elsie and James Smith, are pictured here in 1880. A new power loom was added to the mill the same year.

The Woolmill House

James Smith took over the business at the end of the 19th century. He and his wife, Emma, moved into the newly-built Woolmill House in 1903. Only two generations before, the family might have slept in the same building as their cattle.

Now the old cottage was gone, and it its place stood a two storey house with a maid's room, vegetable garden and summer house.

New Machinery

Second hand carding machinery is installed at the Woolmill. Parts of the same machinery are still used today.

Mill workers c.1910.

Blankets to the Trenches

Government orders came in for blankets for troops serving in the trenches of the Western Front .

A new shed had to be built to dry the blankets in the winter, in order to meet the demand.

New Owners

Duncan Stewart was a nephew of Emma Smith, wife of James. He was born and raised into farming at Upper Knockans, Knockando. He was badly injured in the Great War and on returning, went to work at the mill, marrying Winnie in 1930.

James Smith died in 1937 and Duncan became partner in the Mill to his Aunt Emma. She lived at the Mills until 1971, age 100.

Duncan and Winnie Stewart

By the Second World War most district mills in Scotland had disappeared. Duncan and Winnie Stewart continued to run the run the mill despite the decline.

The Woolmill's modest level of production and place within its rural community gave Duncan an edge. He still made blankets for local farmers, and kept the ageing machines repaired with the help of a local blacksmith.

Newcomers to the Woolmill

Using expertise passed down through generations, the last proprietor, Hugh Jones, learnt the craft from his predecessor, Duncan Stewart. For thirty years he continued to produce tweed, rugs and blankets on the old looms.

The Knockando Woolmill Trust

The Knockando Woolmill Trust was established in 2000 to save the precious machinery and history from being lost.

Over ten years the Trust raises £3.5 million to restore the Woolmill

Official Opening

HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, performs the official opening

Restoration Complete

Restoration completed. Manufacturing on old and new machinery begins again.

Woolmill Wins EU Prize for Cultural Heritage

Knockando Woolmill is one of the winners of the 2016 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s highest honour in the heritage field.

The Woolmill received the award for the category 'Conservation'.

New Woven Textile Design Competition

The Woolmill's inaugural New Woven Textile Designer Award was launched. The aim of the competition was to uncover the best of new textile design talent, inviting current students and recent graduates to submit innovative, contemporary designs that push boundaries.

Previously used as the mailing department, the Old Shop opens up to the public - just like it was in the 1920's when Winnie bound the edges of blankets and offered special customers a glass of sherry!

The Knockando Woolmill Trust

About The Trust

The Knockando Woolmill Trust is a registered Scottish Charity which was set up in 2000 in order to rescue the unique and historic site. The aim of the Trust is to promote and educate people about its unique heritage and to ensure the Woolmill survives the next 200 years.

Find out more about the Knockando Woolmill Trust.

The Restoration

The Trust raised significant funding to restore the buildings and machinery, train new spinners and weavers and to keep manufacturing going. Restoration work on site began in 2010 and the Woolmill has been open to the public from 1st June 2012, giving the Woolmill a whole new lease of life.

Thank you to all our supporters.

The Future

Although the main task of restoring the Woolmill and setting up a structure which will ensure its financial future is complete, help is still needed with fundraising for specific projects and improvements

Find out how you can support the Trust.

About the Company

Since 2012

Quality, integrity and sustainability are foremost in our thoughts as we design and create our unique ranges of specialist woollen tweed and tartan.

Made in Scotland

All our products are manufactured at our historic site on Speyside using skills and traditions passed down through the generations.

Hello You!

Join our mailing list