Royal Opening for Knockando Woolmill
Knockando Woolmill was officially re-opened yesterday by HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, who toured the site and remarked on the wood pellet boilers which are a crucial element of the refurbishment of the whole site.
Knockando Woolmill is on a tributary of the River Spey, in Moray. The mill has been in operation on the site since 1784, weaving woollen cloth. In 1999 local people decided that they wanted to see the fragile mill retained and its part in Scotland’s textile history recognised. The mill is important as the carrier of a tradition, being the only example of a once common type of local woolmill. The mill site itself is compact and isolated, so visitors can get a great sense of how the place has operated over the centuries.
Producing cloth has always been the priority for the Knockando Woolmill Trust. Ensuring that the mill would continue to manufacture a product and not just be a museum to the past was central to the plan. The newly-built conservation and training workshop provides a modern workspace adjacent to the repaired mill, which houses machinery which has been on site for more than one hundred years. The mill house and byre now provide interpretation and there is a tearoom and shop.
Prince Charles also operated a lever to allow water to flow over the re-built mill wheel. Speaking at the event Dr Jana Hutt, who has guided the project for over a decade said
Many people learned about the project from the BBC ‘Restoration’ programme in 2004. We got no money from them at all, but the publicity was invaluable. Visitors are coming to see the mill now who first learned about the mill from that programme.
Dr Hutt and Hugh Jones, the weaver have seen the original plan through to a very successful outcome.
Dr Hutt went on to credit Community Energy Scotland in her address as an important funder in the overall scheme. Major funders such at the Heritage Lottery Fund were encouraged to support the historical aspects of the work, whilst Community Energy Scotland delivered a Scottish Government Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) grant to meet cost of a new heating system. Three wood pellet boilers serve the site, including a main installation which heats the old mill buildings and the new workshop. The workshop, where the Prince met Community Energy Scotland staff has a solid concrete floor and underfloor heating pipes which maintain the building and machinery there in good condition. There are no radiators or heaters to clutter the workspace. Efficient KWB boilers were installed by the local firm Speyside Plumbing Services Ltd of Elchies.
The main building contractor, Mansell, were also praised repeatedly for the quality of the work and the way they had fulfilled the contract. Mansell’s Site Manager throughout the project, Allan Frisken, stated the importance of the contract to the local tradesmen in a period when construction work in Moray was particularly hard to come by.
The Prince was accompanied by Grenville Johnston, the Lord Lieutenant of Moray. Moray’s MP Angus Robertson and Richard Lochhead, MSP for Moray and Scottish Environment and Rural Affairs were also attending the event along with members of Moray Council. Speaking at the mill, Stewart Cree, the Convener of Moray Council stressed the importance of Moray’s history to the current economy of the area. Moray’s rich history in distilling malt whiskies, producing quality cloth and garments and indeed shortbread remain crucially important to the local economy in Moray today.
For more details about the Knockando Woolmill
To learn more about Knockando Distillery
Just up the road, Cardhu Distillery has a visitor centre
Walker’s Shortbread, based in nearby Aberlour features Knockando Woolmill tartan on their Special Edition Aberlour Bi-centernary Tin.
Moray’s tradition of fine wool and cashmere garments continues at Johnston’s of Elgin, who have supported the Knockando Woolmill Trust over the last decade.