Background and purpose
Heritage Cottage is Cadw's 129th property and youngest asset. It is a small nineteenth century terraced house in Cwmdare, in the heart of the south Wales valleys. It is typical of so many traditional buildings in Wales and elsewhere but unique in that it has remained almost completely unaltered inside and out since it was built in 1854.
With one in three buildings traditionally built in Wales, Heritage Cottage is an important as a representative of such a significant proportion of our built heritage.
This project led by Cadw will ensure that Heritage Cottage is not only preserved for future generations to enjoy, but also used as a learning resource to highlight how a traditional building, whether a castle or terraced house, can retain its character while being energy efficient and sustainable with a minimum amount of work.
Heritage Cottage will help Cadw showcase best practices which can be shared across the whole of Wales and beyond, and knowledge sharing is a major objective of the project.
Heritage Cottage is not only interesting because of its construction and on-going restoration, but it also has a wonderful social history. This can help us understand why it was built, who lived here and how they spent their daily lives.
The mid-19th century saw a huge growth in demand for Welsh steam coal. It was the fuel of industry, powering factories, ships and trains. By the 1850's Cwmdare boasted four collieries and the village grew as terraced housing was built to accommodate the influx of workers.
Heritage Cottage is a relatively unaltered example of the type of housing built by mine owners to attract their workforce. It housed family after family of working miners, usually accompanied by their wives, children, extended families; and sometimes lodgers too!
Who lived here?
So who were the occupants of Heritage Cottage and how do we find out more about them? Our first port of call has been the census records which from 1871 onwards provide detail about the people who called this their home. These records paint a vivid portrait of life and work at the time. It is a portrait of crowded cottages and a transient workforce that included child labour.
It is a portrait of crowded cottages and a transient workforce that included child labour. Click here for more information about who lived in Heritage Cottage according to Census records.
What we're doing
Under Cadw's guidance the renovation of Heritage Cottage will go back to basics and study cost-effective, energy-efficient measures that build on the inherent sustainability qualities of traditional buildings. The work will be a blend of modern and traditional measures ranging from insulation and draught proofing to good repair work that will help the original building fabric to provide optimum performance.
The work will be carried out in stages. Our starting point is a detailed analysis of the building to really understand it. This will focus on condition and energy performance and includes different types of tests, before repair work is undertaken, after repair and then after energy efficiency retrofit measures This will help to identify the incremental energy efficiency improvements that we can make, firstly through putting the building in good repair and then by retrofitting with energy efficiency measures.
The process, the information generated and conclusions reached, with the support of other research, will help us to develop an informed and realistic approach to the refurbishment of buildings like this without the need for extensive research and analysis on every traditional building.
The work is divided into three sections: