Leri Tweed Mill, Tal-Y-Bont, Wales
Explored in April 2018 with Kat - Obscure serenity. This mill really is a flashback to the UK's industrial past. A superb example of an intimate industry ultimately wiped off the map by global markets. Luckily, the mill still stands - albeit crumbling to the ground - and retains many items inside which give a clear idea of how the mill operated.
Leri Mill - part of the Lerry Mills complex - was one of the most extensive woollen mill sites in mid-Wales and produced Tweed for suit making using both water wheels from the river and workers to power the looms and spinning machinery.
It was founded in 1809, on a site which is reputed to have been a smeltery and stamp mill established in the 1640s by Thomas Bushell for processing silver and lead ores. Later there is thought to have been a corn mill on the site. The woollen mills closed in the early 1980s.
The mill itself stopped production in the late 1950s with a generl demise in the industry as mass importation took over from overseas. At this time the two mills were purchased by Mr J Hughes and he ran the mills with his wife untill the end of 1980 as a tourist attraction. Initially the tweed was sold locally to farmers and miners but for at least the last thirty years of operation the mill was open to the public, with demonstrations of all of the processes on view, and most importantly a shop that sold tweed, garthen (a tapestry used as a bed covering), rugs and postcards.
In1981 they put the whole site, including a 6 bedroom house, the two tweed mills, a craft shop and 14 acres of land around the river bank with shooting & fishing rights, up for sale. The site appears never to have been sold and has gradually fallen into decay since that time.
Historical information from Cadw Listed Buildings database - W J Crompton, RCAHMW, 21 October 2014.
There are four major buildings on the site, all separately Listed Grade II. The North-east range is thought to have been constructed in 1809, of rubblestone with a graded, hipped slate roof which has in more recent times been repaired with metal sheets. The windows have slate sills and wooden frames with iron glazing bars. At some later date the building was extended south-eastwards, concealing the south hip of the original roof. A leat now passes under this extension, turning to drive a composite breastshot waterwheel at the north end of the west wall. The building had spinning mules on the upper floor, now removed, and contains a carding engine.
The Upper Building presents a single storey to the south and two storeys on its north side, and may contain elements of a late seventeenth century building. It is built of whitewashed rubblestone with a slate roof, and projections at the north-west corner may relate to a waterwheel site. To the north of this is the Riverside Building, a two-storey mid-nineteenth century building with rubblestone walls, windows with slate sills and brick heads, and a slate roof. At the north-west corner there is a section of timber framing in the upper storey. At the West end is a loft door accessed by a flight of stone steps, and a leat passes under the north-west corner.
At the west end of the site is a dyeing shed, reputedly a mid-nineteenth century conversion from a seventeenth or eighteenth century building. The conversion involved shortening the west end. The interior contains remains of dye tubs.