The development of Llanfyllin’s new Workhouse History Centre, made possible by a grant of £39,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, reached an important stage on 5 January when the roof over its study room and office was topped out. This part of the building had been derelict and roofless for many years, with a temporary wall crudely constructed of concrete blocks. Now the wall has been rebuilt in stone with a window surround in brick to match those adjoining; new purlins and rafters have been fitted and the space covered with reclaimed Welsh slates. After delays caused by December’s constant rain the ridge tiles have been added and the building is finally weatherproof. The two photographs show the building before and after.
The wet weather has also held up filming of the final part of ‘Ghosts of the Workhouse’, the film which will give visitors and students an insight into workhouse life. Both the Welsh and English language versions are almost ready for editing, but the scene in the Women’s Courtyard between unmarried mother Anne Lewis and the Master, William Jones, has twice been rained off. It has now been rescheduled for 16 January.
Work is under way on assembling and making furnishings and fittings for the History Centre and reception area, and on devising the interpretation panels which will tell the story of the Llanfyllin Poor Law Union and its significance for poor people in the Tanat, Cain, Vyrnwy and Banwy Valleys. The display will focus on the year 1834, which signalled a new age of austerity after politicians had become alarmed at the rising cost of poor relief and the growth of a dependency culture: Llanfyllin’s Workhouse was begun four years later. Oral history recording is also in progress and visitors will be able to hear some of the results.
The formal opening of the centre will take place on Saturday 14 May when Trevor Fishlock, who has made over 150 television programmes on Welsh history and countryside including one on the restoration of the Llanfyllin Workhouse, will perform the ceremony. A full programme of Victorian-themed events is planned over the weekend: details will be published soon.