THE WOOLWORKERS’ MILL
During the Middle Ages, Banyoles was well known for the quality of its woollen cloths, which were exported throughout the Mediterranean. One of the main steps in the production of the cloths was the fulling, which was used to de-grease, flatten and harden the fabrics. This process was carried out in the cloth mills, where the force of the water drove a waterwheel which moved the fulling mill, a machine made up of two wooden mallets that beat the cloths alternately.
The wool-workers’ mill, with a 4-metre sluice, appears documented for the first time in the 14th century. In 1685, it belonged to the Wool-workers’ Brotherhood, a guild devoted to the wool industry. The introduction from the 18th century onwards of new machinery and new materials, such as cotton or silk, caused a progressive decline in the demand for cloths. Finally, in the mid-19th century, the guild broke up. From then until the mill was abandoned, its sluice was used by various businesses, from a flour mill to a noodle factory.
>The woolworker’s profession
The woolworkers were in charge of managing the entire process of preparing a fabric, from purchasing the wool to obtaining the end product. It was a long and complicated chain, which included various specialised tasks such as crimping, weaving and dyeing. The woolworkers often grouped themselves in guilds or brotherhoods to maintain the monopoly of the textile industry in their city.
> Did you know that...
in Banyoles there is a street called carrer Pareireria (the wool-workers’ profession in Catalan)? It connects the Plaça de la Font with the church of Santa Maria dels Turers, and its existence highlights this profession’s importance in the town.