History of the Building

Beside the aims outlined by the national economical policy, the Royal Factory manufacture aimed to gather in a single building, constructed from the beginning, several workshops, which were scattered around Covilhã and which aimed the manufacturing and finishing of cloths. The Royal Textile Factory was built to support the local manufacturers, especially in organising and conducting the operations of dyeing and finishing the cloths. It was also used to certify the production quality and it even worked as an apprenticeship school for orphans and abandoned children aged between eight and twelve years old, who were kept in an in-house regime and, at the same time they learned a work and they were available labour-force

The Royal Textile Factory was planned to have a monumental character, as it can be seen by the size, materials and construction details. The building was composed by four rectangular wings alongside a central square. Its façades were topped by granite cornices and were built according to the most characteristic of the “Pombaline style”, because of its sober forms and regular openings.

The inner space was planned having in mind it functionality: in the first floor, around the inner square, there is an entrance hall, a lodge for the porter, a dye-house for the coloured cloths, a vat dye-house, two corridors serving the dye-houses, a house for big looms, a house for small looms and an entrance corridor for the looms house (stone-paved), a house  for the guard of the uniforms cloths, a house for stretching worsted , a house where the master pressed, a house for dyestuff composition – these have flagged floor; the second floor, in the wing facing the Tears Fountain, housed the administrative services, among which the Approval House, several warehouses, spinning rooms, and even a lodging area for the apprentices in an in-house regime.

This space continued working as a wool manufacture until the last quarter of the 19th century, being ceded, in the year of 1885, by the City Hall of Covilhã for the settling of the Infantry 21st Regiment, followed by the 2nd Sharpshooters Battalion that occupied the building until the middle of 20th century.

Since 1973, after having the Finance Bureau of Covilhã operated in one of its areas, the entire space was meant to the setting up of the Polytechnic Institute of Covilhã which is in the origin of the University of Beira Interior. By the year 1975, during the rehabilitation work of the building, archaeological structures belonging to the Royal Textile Factory dye-house were unearthed. Later, they were classified as Nation Cultural Heritage by the Decree no. 28/82 of February 26th.

The recovery, restoration and musealisation of this area was prepared by the Portuguese Association of Industrial Archaeology (APAI). The first nucleus of the Wool Museum was hence established and it was inaugurated on April 30th, 1992.