Snowdonia 1890

You can probably imagine, that a construction company dedicated to the historic environment will come across many unusual ‘finds’, ‘happenings’, and ‘events’.

For example, we recently found an ornately carved timber, re-set as a purlin within the void of an ancient church. On another occasion, we hacked through the hundreds of years of growth entangling an ancient hollow way to get to an historic chapel.

So we are used to embracing the unusual every now and again.

Out of all our ‘unusual’ projects, one particular one stands out.

First glimpse of a tender to conserve a traditional Welsh farm house within the mountainsof Snowdonia brought about the usual interest that such a challenging and fascinating job should do. Upon further reading, we discovered that this particular project had the potential to take notions of the historic environment to new and dizzying heights.

What we tendered for (and subsequently won), was not just the conservation and restoration of a culturally significant tyddyn, but also the bringing about of a stage set to re-enact the lives of its past occupants to be broadcast on BBC TV. Snowdonia 1890, takes two families and places them within the context of an 1890’s tyddyn.

Whereas in previous projects, we could only guess as to the occupants of the past, or even capture the faint echoes of former structures; here at Taly Braich in Rhosgadfen,we had the unique opportunity of creating an historically accurate environment to be used as originally intended. A stage set to capture the trials and tribulations of contemporary characters trying to come to terms with the vagaries of living in the past.

The project involved a full restoration of derelict parts of the building, and gentle conservation of the surviving structure. Coping with the complex logistics of working at distance in the raw Welsh mountains was challenging. Additionally, Grosvenor had to fit into a strict timescale to meet the needs of the production team who were to be lodged just a matter of metres away in a temporary building.

Whilst the TV unit bristled with technology, Grosvenors skilled hands were busy with practices more relevant to the period the house was built. Mixing lime mortar, fixing Welsh blue slates and re -building dry stone walls formed a marked contrast to the beeps and digital paraphernalia flickering just metres away.

You can see some of our skilled team at work here in the short ‘making of’ video over onthe BBC site.

So special was the project that Grosvenor commissioned specialist architectural photographer, Andy Marshall, to spend a day there capturing the building. Here is a slideshow of his images.

More links:

BBC Snowdonia 1890 website

Andy Marshall’s website