Tywi Centre heritage construction apprentices on site at Deer Park.

Carmarthenshire’s Tywi Centre takes the lead in advancing sustainable heritage conservation across Wales

Tywi Centre, based in Carmarthenshire, has initiated a transformative scheme committed to preserving and enriching Wales’s traditional built heritage, placing a strong emphasis on sustainability.

Wales boasts a rich cultural heritage, with approximately one-third of its housing stock comprising traditionally constructed, solid-walled buildings. Recognising the critical need to reduce emissions associated with these historical structures, the Tywi Centre has unveiled its latest visionary programmes seeking to empower craftspeople and communities with the skills and knowledge required to safeguard these treasures while simultaneously addressing environmental concerns. These latest initiatives have been made possible through funding from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund and Carmarthenshire County Council.

A cornerstone of the Tywi Centre’s mission is its commitment to empower craftspeople in acquiring qualifications in Heritage Construction. To this end, its latest initiative – conducted in partnership with Cyfle Building Skills and CITB – will deliver an NVQ Level 3 training and work placement programme for students in Heritage Stonemasonry, Carpentry and Plastering. The students will undertake four weeks of specialist construction training, a year of assessment and placements with local companies undertaking heritage projects. This will provide the students with the vital hands-on experience required for the qualification and enable them to be work-ready upon completion – thus shaping the future of heritage conservation in Wales.

In addition to the vital craftspeople training programme, the Tywi Centre is dedicated to empowering the custodians and owners of traditional homes and buildings by offering traditional skills training through non-accredited courses and public awareness events. These initiatives provide invaluable information and advice on topics such as repair and maintenance, energy efficiency improvements, and the utilisation of sustainable and traditional materials. The Centre’s mission is to elevate the carbon emissions performance of older buildings, ensuring that their historical significance is preserved while averting unintended consequences. In doing so, the initiative is responding directly to Wales’s net zero goals by ensuring the existing building stock is retained and appropriately and sympathetically retrofitted for future generations.

Notably, the Tywi Centre’s courses have gained significant popularity among architects and engineers, emphasising the growing recognition of the importance of traditional skills and

materials in refurbishment, and retrofit projects. This critical knowledge is poised to reshape the landscape of future construction and restoration endeavours, preserving the essence of Wales’s architectural heritage whilst also addressing the issue of sustainability.

Situated at Dinefwr Farm, Llandeilo, the Tywi Centre operates under the auspices of Carmarthenshire County Council. The Centre’s visionary approach signifies a pioneering leap forward in preserving Wales’s rich architectural legacy while addressing the urgent need for environmental sustainability.

Nell Hellier, Senior Built Heritage Officer, Tywi Centre, said:

“We are delighted to be able to announce our latest collaborative initiatives, which are at the forefront of promoting sustainable heritage conservation in Wales. Our commitment to empowering craftspeople with the essential skills and knowledge needed to preserve our architectural heritage through our innovative training programmes in partnership with Cyfle and CITB will be invaluable to our mission. By championing the Heritage Construction Skills qualification and offering traditional skills training to owners of traditional buildings, we bridge the gap between tradition and sustainability. With these initiatives, we are ensuring that our historic buildings not only stand the test of time but also contribute to a more sustainable future for our communities.”

For more information and updates on the Tywi Centre’s transformative initiatives, please visit www.tywicentre.org.uk

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