One of the finest examples of a Victorian workhouse in Britain, beautifully situated in the Cain Valley. Completed in 1840, this imposing stone building could house up to 250 inmates. Known locally as Y Dolydd, in 1930 it became a local authority institution and later a care home. It finally closed in 1982.
Since 2016 Y Dolydd has housed the Workhouse History Centre, Wales’s only workhouse museum, created with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund by a group of volunteers who have combed local and national archives to discover its past. Through bilingual displays, a visitor trail and ‘Ghosts of the Workhouse’, a 30-minute film made with local actors, the History Centre tells the story of the workhouse and its effects on the people who lived there, or in its shadow. Children can pick oakum, dress up in workhouse costume or follow a family trail. The Workhouse and the History Centre are open daily, free of charge.
Y Dolydd also shows how a community can rescue a historic building from destruction. After a brief period as an outdoor pursuits centre in the 1980’s the Workhouse stood abandoned and derelict until local residents formed a charitable trust to save it. In 2004 the courtyards were choked with brambles, windows were smashed or boarded up, ceilings had collapsed, floorboards and fittings had been stolen and dry rot was rampant. Today the site looks very different, though work remains ongoing. Much of the renovation has been carried out by volunteers, often using recycled materials with minimal resources. An appeal has been launched for repairs to the Master’s House at the heart of the Workhouse complex.
Much of the Workhouse was modernised internally in the 1960’s and most renovated areas are let to local enterprises or used for functions which raise funds for maintenance and restoration. Visitors can view parts of the ground floor as well as the four courtyards, walk around the 6-acre site and the new sensory garden, browse in the bookshop or picnic in the grounds. Craft workshops are occasionally open and can be visited by appointment. There is a 24-bed bunkhouse. Events on site include music festivals, horse shows, art exhibitions, green activities, food and craft fairs and open days: the premises can be hired for weddings, parties, rallies, training days or promotional events.
Address: Y Dolydd, The Workhouse, Llanfyllin SY22 5LD