Skein Dye-house

In this room are presented the hot dyeing processes of wool yarns or skeins that were carried out in a state manufacture of the Ancient Regime. Moreover, it is intended to testify the deep relation that exists between the work practiced in a State manufacture and the one that was still made in a domestic regime. After the building construction, several manufacturing operations kept on being executed outside the Royal Textile Factory, namely, the washing, carding and spinning operations. The last one is conducted in schools scattered in several places of the region.


In this archaeological area, it is possible to see the preserved granite structures where the only boiler existing in this room laid down, which worked on firewood with direct fire.

This picture shows how this dye-house room worked. The wool dyeing, in yarns or skeins, was an operation, that was conducted here, and it preceded weaving.

This showcase presents a general panorama of the wool processing, from the shearing of flocks to the finishing of the cloths.

After being weaved, the cloths went to the fulling mills to thicken. It was a finishing operation performed in becks that had an axle where strong beating hammers were suspended that through manually drive movements compressed the cloths submersed in a hot water solution. The fulling mills were generally located near water streams and several vestiges like this one can still be found today in Covilhã. In this room, we present a cartography with the approximate location of the fulling mills of the Goldra Stream and a picture with the building of a fulling mill (not existing anymore) of the Royal Textile Factory, located at the Sineiro Place, at the Carpinteira Stream.

Partial view of the Skein dye-house, where several objects of historic interest are exposed. It is possible to find the patent of a warp loom, piece that worked simultaneously with the creel, which grouped the yarns by colours and the warp loom received them and made patterns of them. Next, the patterned yarns were put in parallel in another piece called roller in order that the yarns entered correctly in the loom organ, to make the structure (warp) used to weave the cloths.

Partial view of the Skein dye-house, where the original tiled floor of the Royal Factory is still preserved. It was the only one that resisted to the course of time and to the changes undergone by the facilities when they were occupied by the Infantry quarter followed by the 2nd Sharpshooters. The exposed copper tubs were used to dye the wool skeins. These were put in reeds or rods that were constantly turned round in order that the dyeing penetrated in the yarns to be uniform. This operation temperature fluctuated between 90º and 100º degrees.

In this showcase are represented several stages of the wool treatment, until it reaches its final state. Sheared in the beginning of spring, the wool was sold by the cattle raisers and housed in a house located at the Peso da lã Street, name that still exists. After weighing the wool, a tax for the council was paid. It was separated in basket according to the quality (in the Royal Factory the wool used was of first quality). Afterwards, it was washed and carded. There are also several instruments used in the manufacture daily life: spools, distaffs and spindles, oil lamps, thimbles and broom for the cloths cleaning, as well as two samples of cloth before and after being fulled. There is also a fragment of a water wheel and its maquette, made by the last water wheels builder of Covilhã.

The only furnace existing in this room was smaller than the others existing in the Royal Factory. It was aimed to dye red and scarlet and the boiler that was incorporated in the furnace was made of tin and lead – the copper boilers could not be used in the dyeing of these colours, since the contact provoked chemical reactions that would seriously change the final result. The process used to heat the bath was also the direct fire.