I spent yesterday morning with Ian Garland, Chief Executive and Julia Parker, Marketing Manager of the trust which hopes to restore the Llanfyllin Workhouse, in Montgomeryshire. The Llanfyllin Dolydd Preservation Trust has just secured a long term loan of £400,000 which will create the financial stability to enable a restoration plan to be developed. Good news for Llanfyllin, and for anyone who cares about conserving the most important parts of our heritage.
The Llanfyllin Workhouse is perhaps the best remaining example of the 54 workhouses that were built in Wales after the Poor Law was introduced in 1834. It was built between 1837-1841 and housed up to about 200 poor souls. It was transferred to the local authority in 1930, and eventually became an old people's home. It was closed in 1982.
Montgomeryshire people don't like change. In 1838 while the Llanfyllin Workhouse was being built, a big mob of protesters had to be put down by the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry. And in 1982, when it was closed another protesting mob of 250 locals gathered in the local town hall. Its fortunate that the locals had become more civilised because the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry had been disbanded by then.
The sense of incarceration that must have descended on those who were condemned to the Llanfyllin Workhouse is easy to imagine when walking through the buildings. I imagine that it feels rather like a prison camp would have felt. But its our history, and so its important. The people who have worked hard to bring the restoration project to where it is today have done a great job. Lets hope that they can finish it.