The Workhouse History Centre is open daily between 10.00 and 17.00 (16.00 in winter).  Admission is free.

Visitors to the History Centre can:

  • Visit Wales’s only Workhouse Museum
  • See varied, bilingual displays on the Victorian poor law and life in the Workhouse for adults and children, housed in one of the least altered spaces in the building
  • View a film, in English or Welsh, and be guided around the Workhouse by the ghost of its first master, William Jones
  • Follow a family trail around the four courtyards of this fine listed building, one of the best examples of a Victorian workhouse and set in beautiful countryside
  • Learn about the activities of the local trust which is preserving Llanfyllin Workhouse as a community enterprise

Study room is open by appointment.

Llanfyllin Workhouse, Y Dolydd, Llanfyllin SY22 5LD

(On A490 just outside the town.)

Dolydd History Centre viewing room photo web WP_20160514_14_43_10_Pro

History Centre Viewing Room – visitors watching Ghosts of the Workhouse

Here are some comments from visitors:

Enjoyed looking round the Workhouse.  Thanks to all volunteers who took time to talk and make is welcome.”

“Great  exhibit and great video.”

“Fascinating look into the past, moving and sad too.”

Educationally brilliant.”

“A great piece of history.”

“Glad I was born 100 years after this place.”

“Love the film.  So interesting.”

“Impressive – and sad.”

“Film gave good insight into Workhouse life.”

*******************************************************************************************

Model goes on show at the Workhouse

A new acquisition is on display at Llanfyllin’s Workhouse History Centre.

Local architect Michael Goulden, who is retiring from practice, has donated a fine model of Llanfyllin Workhouse, Y Dolydd, and its site.  Built in 2000 by his brother Robert, it shows the scheme his firm prepared for Hilary Collins who rescued the building from developers with the object of creating a national antiques and craft centre for Wales.  The Centre would have housed up to 100 sales units and an auction gallery as well as a restaurant, community facilities and a historical display.  The model shows a glass roof over one of the courtyards, extensive parking and the roundabout that would have been required on the A490.

dolydd-model

Sadly lack of capital frustrated the scheme, and in 2004 Y Dolydd was acquired by the Llanfyllin Dolydd Building Preservation Trust which is pursuing a comparable but less ambitious project.  The model demonstrates the striking ground plan of a Victorian workhouse and also illustrates a recent chapter in the building’s history.  It can be seen every day at the Workhouse History Centre which is open between 10.00 and 4.00 during the winter months, free of charge.

Further information from:  John Hainsworth, Llanfyllin Dolydd Building Preservation Trust john@rhiwarth.fsnet.co.uk

 

 

********************************************************************

Grand Opening of new Workhouse History Centre

Ghosts of the Workhouse premiered on 13th May to a delighted audience.  Most of the stars were there to walk the red carpet.

Dolydd premiere JH Tom Grace web

John Hainsworth, Producer; Tom Morris (William Jones); Grace Goulding, Director

Dolydd premiere Beth and Ellis web

Beth and Ellis MacDonald (Hannah and Tomos)

Dolydd premiere Meg and Jessie web

Meg Brown (Martha); Jessie Vaughan (Anne Lewis)

Dolydd opening Trevor with sign WP_20160514_14_22_43_Pro web

Trevor Fishlock unveiling sign

The Grand Opening weekend took place on 14th and 15th May and fulfilled all the hopes of the organisers and rewarded all the hard work and planning. The weather was perfect and visitor numbers high.  Trevor Fishlock cut the ribbon at the door of the centre and unveiled the sign at the gate.  

Dolydd opening Centre web P1100798

New History Centre

 

Dolydd opening Trevor speech WP_20160514_14_16_00_Pro web

John Hainsworth, Ted Sangster, Ann Williams, Trevor Fishlock

Dolydd opening Dawnswyr first floor web P1100793

Dawnswyr Tanat performing in the boys’ courtyard

Dolydd opening Jane 1 Gordon web

Opening speeches

Dolydd opening gypsy web P1100824

Gypsy caravan

Dolydd opening Teulu web P1100793

Teulu dancers

Dolydd opening weekend museum web P1100793

Weekend Museum

*********************************************************************************

Ghosts of the Workhouse

Dolydd Workhouse Ghosts

Emma Lincoln, Beth McDonald and Ellis McDonald as Martha, Hannah and Tomos Davies


Editing is complete on ‘Ysbridion y Wyrcws / Ghosts of the Workhouse’, the new film to be shown at Llanfyllin’s Workhouse History Centre which opens in May.  It has been made by Beehouse Films, based at Y Dolydd, with Philip Lane as Director of Photography and Editor.  The Director is Grace Goulding who works with students at Llanfyllin High School and lectures at the Liverpool School of Performing Arts.  John Hainsworth produced the film on behalf of the Preservation Trust and wrote the screenplay.
The most important people are of course the actors.  All of them are local volunteers and most have been faced with the daunting task of performing in two languages, as the film has been made in both Welsh and English versions.  Farmer Tom Morris from Llanrhaeadr plays the lead: as the ghost of William Jones, first Master of the Llanfyllin Union Workhouse and himself haunted by memories from his past, he leads us through the building and introduces us to other ghosts.  We meet Hannah Davies, played by Beth Macdonald of Llanfyllin, who has been forced to enter the workhouse after her husband’s death and is separated from her two children: seven year old Tomos, played by Beth’s son Ellis, and twelve year old Martha – Meg Brown from Meifod in the English version and Emma Lincoln from Bwlch-y-cibau in the Welsh.  Like most workhouse children Martha will soon be sent out into service.  Steve Winder from Llansilin plays the children’s grandfather.

Dolydd workhouse ghosts

Meg Brown, Beth McDonald, Ellis McDonald and Tom Morris as Martha, Hannah and Tomos Davies and William Jones

Several characters are based on real people.  William Jones is confronted by Thomas Menlove, one of the Guardians, whom local audiences will recognise as the Rev’d Kit Carter of Penybontfawr: he complains bitterly of the cost of the Workhouse to the ratepayers.  And Jessie Vaughan, Llanfyllin, plays Anne Lewis, a defiant single mother who was given no choice but to enter the workhouse with her ‘little bastard’.

Dolydd Workhouse Ghosts

Rev’d Kit Carter and Tom Morris as Thomas Menlove and William Jones

Making a film at Y Dolydd in winter – a circumstance dictated by the timing of the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – presented its own challenges.  The outdoor scenes had to be repeatedly postponed due to the constant rain before Christmas, and the lack of indoor heating meant that rehearsals took place huddled around the woodburner and several actors were seen hugging hot water bottles between takes.  Whatever the weather, memorising and producing lines in two languages in quick succession was especially demanding, and outdoors every passing tractor or barking dog required a retake.  The cast rose magnificently to the challenge.
The actors will be able to appraise their performance at a private view in April.  Other audiences will have to wait another month.  The premiere will be held at Y Dolydd on Friday 13th May, and the two thirty-minute films will be on view at the Victorian Weekend on 14-15 May and subsequently on demand in the Workhouse History Centre.  Aimed at a family audience they are also designed to be viewed by school groups.  In comparison with most films the budget has been minuscule, but all concerned have set themselves high standards.  The verdict of the public is eagerly awaited.  28.3.16

Photographs by Rev’d Dr Richard Hainsworth

**********

Here is the History Centre at its birth.

New History Centre Topped Out

This month 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 milestone 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 finely crafted 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.Dolydd History centre roof complete red
The wet weather also held up filming of the final part of ‘Ghosts of the Workhouse’, the dramatised documentary which will give visitors and students an insight into workhouse life.  Both the Welsh and English language versions were almost ready for editing, but the final outdoor scene featuring unmarried mother Anne Lewis and the Master, William Jones, had been rained off on three occasions.  It was filmed successfully on 23 January.  The film will be available for viewing in the new Centre, or for larger groups in the Dolydd Venue or Gallery.
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 14th 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. March 2016