Cottage Restoration

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The cottages are over 150 years old, two of the oldest houses in the village. Built in local stone on Old Road – originally the old Swansea Valley public Highway – we believe that they were built by colliers in 1859. Later occupants reflect the industrial heritage of the area – in 1920 William Thomas Williams, canal lengthman from the Swansea Canal, sold Nant Cottage to Willie Davies, a tinplate worker, who borrowed the purchase price of £180 from The Pheasant Bush Friendly Society in Trebanos.

When we started work on them they were virtually uninhabitable with fungi growing in cupboards and even a slow river seeping across the upstairs floors from the leaking chimneys! When we stripped out everything from the ground to the roof; the back wall in Nant Cottage fell down! We spent nearly two years completely rebuilding them from top to bottom and extending behind the original houses to almost double the living space. Materials were recycled so that the cottages retain many of their original features from the inglenook fireplaces to the Victorian pitch pine doors. In Nant Cottage we were able to salvage and restore the old staircase, stripping off  layers of paint and repairing extensive woodworm damage. Other materials were sourced locally from salvage yards all over South Wales – the upstairs flooring used to be a dance floor from Whitby; the mantelpiece in Nant Cottage was an oak tree from Carmarthen; the ground floor woodblock flooring came from a fine 1930's house in Swansea; the stone to rebuild and extend the original cottages and for the outbuildings, was quarried from the garden.

Our work has been a labour of love, driven by a regard for and respect for these beautiful old Welsh cottages and the local culture and sense of community that they encapsulate. Local people would call by during the months of rebuilding to watch the transformation and to reminisce. We heard great stories – children being hidden under the stairs when the rent man called; a young boy finding a fox cub curled up asleep by the fireplace late one cold winter's night; a family with eight children who slept in a rented room in a neighbour's house every night, trotting up Heol Las clutching teddies and hot water bottles! A neighbour remembers watching butter being patted out on the hearth stone in Nant cottage – it was formerly the cold counter in the cellar of a shop in the village where her mother used to send her to fetch supplies over 50 years ago.

Now the cottages have a new life and will stand, weatherproof and warm, for at least another 100 years, welcoming many more families from all corners of the world when they come to visit this beautiful corner of Wales.

So many of our guests have been interested to know more about the restoration so we have put together a selection of photos of the work as it progressed.

Enjoy and be amazed!

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