Lanas de Rio: a Victorian weaving mill in rural Andalusia
Molino Taponero was an abandoned mill when Yorkshire weavers, Paul Sutcliffe and Howard Wimpenny, first came across it in rural Andalusia. The old mill soon got a new breath of life when it was transformed into a weaving mill and textile workshop. Lanas de Rio (lanas = wool, rio = river) creates beautiful, high-quality fabrics made on traditional Victorian looms which were transported all the way to this corner of Southern Spain from Yorkshire, England.
Visitors to the region are welcome to visit this small family-run weaving mill located in a tranquil countryside location on the banks of the Genal River near the historic town of Gaucín in the Ronda Mountains.
We spoke to Paul Sutcliffe, a former engineer who does the weaving and design at Lanas de Rio along with his wife Dawn, Howard having retired recently.
How did you discover this region, and the property, Molino Taponero?
My colleague Howard found the property. It was advertised on a supermarket notice board. Molino Taponero used to be an old flour mill which had burned down in 1971. We were looking for a place in this region of Spain where we could set up our textile machines. In 1993 we found the perfect space at Molino Taponero and moved the looms and equipment here from England. These are huge machines – they were transported from Yorkshire in pieces and then reassembled here. We’re almost finished with the renovation work which has lasted for the past 21 years. We have also transformed a casita into a small guesthouse which opened this summer. This was the site of a worker’s cottage, with a beautiful terrace under a large fig tree.
What can visitors see at Molino Taponero?
We use 19th century designed Dobcross shuttle looms which were used in Yorkshire, the centre of the textile industry at that time. We have two of these and one spinning machine. The looms used to run on steam power and are interesting machinery to watch in action. They still produce the finest quality cloth which the mills in Yorkshire were famous for.
We show visitors how the machinery works and explain the whole weaving process, how yarn is transformed into cloth. Visitors’ reactions are very positive and most have never seen machinery of this type before. Many people have heard of us through word of mouth or from guesthouse owners.
What kinds of products are made with the looms?
We make a range of blankets, shawls, capes, scarves and other products made of lamb’s wool and cashmere. Our products are made with all natural fibres such as merino, Shetland wool and alpaca silk and cashmere. We source most of our yarn from Yorskhire while the merino comes from Australia, the cashmere from Tibet and Mongolia, and the alpaca and silk from China and Peru. Some of our products are available at a shop in Gaucín but the entire range of our exclusive products is only sold at Molino Taponero.
What’s unique about your surroundings?
The Genal river runs all year round and runs through the property. This is a very, very green and lush environment in a very beautiful place in the Ronda Mountains. We have a view of the ruins of the castle of Gaucín from here and we’re surrounded by forests of cork trees.
For more information, visit the Lanas des Rio website: http://www.lanasdelrio.com/
Blog post by Isabel Putinja.