Preserving Welsh Woollen Mill Traditions: The Success of Melin Tregwynt’s Apprenticeship Scheme

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Welsh woollen mills face the challenge of preserving traditional skills and attracting younger generations to carry on the craft. Melin Tregwynt addresses this challenge through their apprenticeship scheme, which allows young people to stay in their local area and join one of the few remaining working mills in Wales. Katherine and Sean, both locals, began their employment at the mill in the cafe, with no intention of becoming weavers. However, they have since developed their careers within the mill and are now dedicated weavers.
Sean started working at the mill while still in school and studying for his A levels, starting out in a part-time role working in the shop and café before being offered an apprenticeship opportunity to join the mill.

I was approached by the manager at the time and asked whether I wanted to join an apprenticeship scheme to work at the mill, I refused at first as I thought I would be moving on from the mill but when offered the same opportunity the following year I decided to give it a go, 12 years later I’m still here!

Image Credit: Melin Tregwynt

Katherine, who has been working at Melin Tregwynt for almost 9 years also started out at the café where she worked for less than a year before undertaking the apprenticeship scheme.

Apprenticeships are a great way to get young people involved as it gives opportunity for people who have an existing interest in the field to learn new skills and see what it’s like to work in a mill.


As part of the apprenticeship scheme both Sean and Katherine worked in the mill four days a week and spent a day a week studying at Carmarthen college. They are now both part of Melin Tregwynt’s recently established Employee Ownership Trust, a legal structure in which a company is owned by its employees and have a collective stake in the business through a trust. The trust provides employees with a greater sense of ownership and involvement in the business in order to maintain a sustainable and successful enterprise.

It’s important to keep providing opportunities and introducing young people into the work force to keep the tradition and industry alive. There were around 300 working woollen mills in Wales at one point, today we are one of around 7 still standing and to be as successful as we are, is quite an amazing achievement!

Image Credit: Melin Tregwynt

At its peak in the 19th century, there were around 300 woollen mills in Wales, but with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of cheaper mass-produced textiles, many mills closed down. Today, there are only a few remaining mills, but they continue to produce high-quality woollen products that are highly prized for their durability and unique patterns. Melin Tregwynt is a shining example of how apprenticeship schemes can be used to preserve traditional skills and attract younger generations to carry on the craft. By offering opportunities for young people to learn new skills and work in a local mill, they have developed a team of dedicated weavers like Katherine and Sean, who are keeping the weaving tradition alive for future generations.

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