Knockando Woolmill is a Category A listed group of buildings in the Spey Valley. The Woolmill itself contains original textile machinery acquired over the centuries. It has always been at the heart of the local community; listed as the 'Wauk Mill' in parish records from 1784, the Woolmill has since maintained its traditions of spinning and weaving through generations of families.
Knockando Woolmill grew gradually as the mechanisation of textile production developed elsewhere in the UK. This is not the large industrial mill of Yorkshire or the Scottish Borders but 18th and 19th century farm diversification. When times were good, the Woolmill tenant would buy a new (usually second hand) piece of machinery. He would extend the Mill building just enough to keep the weather off the machine; being a thrifty farmer, he reused doors and windows from elsewhere. This has resulted in the surviving tiny, ramshackle building stuffed full of historic machinery and redolent of the labours previous generations.
Spinning and weaving went hand in hand with agriculture at Knockando. There would be little work carried on in the Woolmill during sowing or harvest time but after shearing, local farmers would bring in their fleeces to be processed and take them away as blankets and tweed cloth. Many communities had their own local district woollen mill, but the majority of these disappeared between the two World Wars.
Somehow, Knockando survived. Using expertise passed down through generations, the last proprietor, Hugh Jones, learnt the craft from his predecessor, Duncan Stewart. For thirty years he continued to produce tweed, rugs and blankets on the old looms. Knockando Woolmill Trust, formed in 2000, stepped in to raise the £3.5 million needed to restore the buildings and machinery. This was completed in 2014, It now owns the mill building, leasing the rest of the site from Knockando Estate. The Woolmill is now open to the public and continues to sustain the manufacturing traditions of the UK’s oldest surviving district wool mill.
The Conservation Plan, written by Andrew PK Wright Chartered Architect and Heritage Consultant, was the cornerstone and inspiration for the restoration of the Woolmill.