Old Woollen 360

Explore the old woollen

One of the first mill buildings built at Sunny Bank Mills in 1830 by a group of men who included John and William’s ancestor John Gaunt. It was originally used for a process called “scribbling” and “fulling”. Scribbling was the process of combing the wool fibres in order to straighten them. Fulling was the process of washing and shrinking the cloth after it had been woven. This made the cloth thicker and stronger. This building does not have any toilets! Before modern chemicals the wee was collected and used to clean the wool in the “fulling” process.

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Fun facts

  • Children up to the age of 12 years old would work in this building at Scribbling. in 1833, the government introduced the factories act. This said that no children could work in the factory under the age of 9 years old. Instead, children were to have 2 hours of school! However, as there were only 4 factory inspectors and thousands of factories, many mill owners continued to use young children in their mill.
  • This building has not been used for manufacturing since the we stopped woollen spinning in the 1950s (hence it’s name, the old woollen). We then concentrated on Worsted manufacturing.
  • This whole floor was filled shoulder high in skeps filled with wooden bobbins that John and William’s fathers used for kindling to light their fires!
  • The holes at the far end and under the planks near the door are the original pits that would have housed the wooden vessels to wash the wool.
  • The holes in the wall are the shaft holes that lead through to the original 33bhp steam engine, put in by John Gaunt in 1838.
  • The strings hanging from the ceiling used to hold bags open that would hold the wool waste from spinning. The labels hanging from the wall refer to the different types of wool used at the time.
  • Wool quality is measured in microns, the fibre diameter. Cross bred wool referred to on the label is  is 25 to 30micron. The finest merino wool we were using in 2005 was 12.5 micron!
  • We have an ambitious plan for the Old Woollen to be a centre for the arts, culture and entertainment. It may take a while but watch this space! It starts with welcoming Trouble Mill back in…