Wellbrook Beetling Mill 



Wellbrook Beetling Mill is situated two and a half miles west of Cookstown it is a water driven mill built in the eighteenth century. 


The function of a beetling mill is to form a smooth glossy sheen on woven linen cloth. When the cloth first came to the mill it was wound around a smooth wooden cylinder, these were actually tree trunks which had been turned on a lathe.

The cylinder is set in a wooden frame called a beetling engine, directly above the cylinder are thirty two beetles, these are pieces of wood usually beech and are about 100 mm (4" ) square and about 5 Ft long, the beetles are set side by side and are free to move vertically, protruding from each of these about half way up is another piece of beech about 150 mm (6") long. 


 In line with these at the same height as the wiper beam, this is again a tree trunk with a steel shaft up the center bolted to this and arranged in a spiral are thirty two lifts, when the engine is started the wiper beam turns lifting and dropping the beetles in succession, at the same time the roller carrying the cloth turns but much more slowly. The cloth was beetled like this for two or three days.

After the cloth was finished it hung in the drying room above the engine house, before being folded for dispatch, linen was usually processed in bolts 23 yards long.


The waterwheel is a breast fed and is 16 ft in diameter and 4 ft 6 in wide, it powers the seven beetling engines. The mill is owned by the National Trust visitors can usually see the mill in operation, be warned it is a very noisy operation.

Irish linen exports soared from 500,000 yards in 1712 to 46,000,000 in 1796. 





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