Squeezed onto the valley floor at the confluence of the River Esgair and the Arthen Brook, Cwmpengraig was an important centre of textile production. In fact, the modern woollen industry of the valleys probably began here at Coedmor Mill in the centre of the village opposite to Soar Chapel. Only one wall remains. Coedmor began as a fulling mill - carding, spinning and weaving of cloth being carried out in the neighbouring farms and cottages. See how many are marked on the Map and how they are all linked together by footpaths and roads. And at Coedmor, in the 1820s, the whole pace of the industry changed. The very first water driven carding machines and spinning mules were introduced by Deio 'Siah, son of Josiah Danwaring. Visit the Museum in Drefach-Felindre to find out more.
Even when the factory system was widespread in the valleys, some cottage work remained. Alongside the road between Cwmpengraig and Drefach-Felindre you'll see a row of low, tin-roofed, buildings. This is Ogof named after a cave in the hill above. Here Benjamin Jones and his family lived - and worked. The artist's reconstruction takes us inside the building and back in time. At one end was the dyeing room with two large cauldrons. At the other end was a workroom with two handlooms. On the slopes above was a tenter field where cloth was stretched on wooden frames.
Benjamin Jones, like many small-scale producers, sold his own flannel cloth at market stalls and fairs in South Wales and the Valleys. He and his whole family would travel down to Llangyfelach fair, near Swansea, by horse and cart. Originally, all the dyes were made from plants and lichens gathered locally, but by the late 19th century, new chemical dyes had mostly taken their place.