Cadw has recently listed at Grade II* an exceptionally complete and well-preserved water-powered sawmill and carpenter’s workshop, along with the attached house, in the small village of Pontdolgoch.
Standing on the banks of the Afon Carno, the oldest parts of Ty Coch were built in the seventeenth century as a Welsh long house, with farmhouse and barns in a long terrace under a continuous roof and internal access between buildings. This traditional design gave the best security in the centuries when cattle theft was endemic in Wales.
Ty Coch had become a woodworking centre by the early nineteenth century and it has remained one until today. In 1819, Ty Coch provided much of the carpentry for the first Baptist chapel built in the nearby town of Caersws. By 1886 the congregation had outgrown the chapel and it was replaced, but parts of the old building were salvaged and incorporated into Ty Coch. These include a circular window and two Tuscan style posts which returned to the place they had been carved to hold up a portico above its front door.
During the twentieth century, Ty Coch passed through several generations of the Owen family, who added the water-powered sawmill and workshop. The current iron and steel waterwheel was made in Aberystwyth and installed in 1911. It turns an axle suspended high above the yard that passes into the workshop and drives a variety of machines, including a circular saw, a band saw, a lathe, various drills and morticing machines.
The Owens continued to make wheels, coffins and other woodwork for the local area until 2005, and the site has been carefully looked after by new owners since then. The machinery all still works perfectly and Ty Coch is now a bed and breakfast where guests are welcome to see demonstrations of the waterwheel and tools in use.
This is an edited version of an article which first appeared in Listed Heritage, membership journal of The Listed Property Owners’ Club. Information on how buildings are chosen for Listing and how to request a building be added to the List can be found here.