Roof of Historic Workhouse Set For Repair

WORK TO RESTORE THE ROOF of a historic Victorian Workhouse is underway with slating set to start this week.

The work on the roof of the Master’s House at Llanfyllin Workhouse in Powys, mid-Wales, is the start of a restoration project, which will include the building’s floors, stairs and ceilings among other projects.

Built in 1838 to house the poor of 23 different parishes, the site, now known as Y Dolydd, is currently a community centre and bunkhouse and houses other businesses in workshops and studio spaces.

The  central block of the building, the Master’s House, is an octagon-shaped structure one storey higher than the four wings of the property that span out from it.

Ahead of Christmas, contractor Richard Stephenson and his team stripped the roof and reinstated the felting and battens following timberwork repair, with the site being visited by a students from Wales National Roofing Training Group’s Heritage roofing course in October, 2019.

Bat roost problems

The site is often used by Brown Long-Eared Bats. According to the Bat Conservation Trust, the animal has different preferences for summer and winter roosts.

Summer roosts are usually located in older buildings, barns, churches and trees. Long-eared bats generally form small and quiet colonies of about 20 animals – often the first a householder knows about them is when a visit to the loft reveals a cluster of faces peering down from a corner of the rafters.

Winter roosts tend to be found in caves, tunnels, mines, icehouses and occasionally even trees and buildings.

John Hainsworth, Trustee, said: “You wouldn’t normally want to take a roof off in November and December, but it couldn’t be done in the summer due to brown long-eared bats in the roof space.

“The process of conducting a survey and obtaining an EPS licence from Natural Resources Wales was lengthy and complex and we should probably have allowed an extra year.

“By the time the survey was complete and written up and, the application made, conditions negotiated and the licence granted it was late October.”

Reclaimed slates

Many of the slates will be reused, with a proportion replaced using reclaimed slates sourced locally.

John continued: “The roofs at Y Dolydd are covered with varied types of slate. Those on the Master’s House are a distinctive greenish grey, unlike the coarser Llangynog slates on the adjoining Women’s Wing. They’re in remarkably good condition and Richard hopes to retain at least 80%.

“They must be gently handled and carefully recorded before removal. Some replacements will inevitably be needed and Richard was lucky enough to find an excellent match at a reclamation yard in Machynlleth.

“We’ve bought 2,000 in a range of sizes to maintain the diminishing courses that give the roof its character.

“They managed to get the felting and battening done before they went off. Work re-started this week after the Christmas break.”

The new cupola, a small dome structure on top of the roof, built by local carpenter Andrew Dunn is set to be installed with slating to be completed in the coming weeks.

More than £80,000 has so far been raised for the project with much of the funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation. Phase one is set to cost £90,000 and phase two estimated to cost £100,000.

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