Turning a mud building into a holiday cottage

The reception room of Pontbrenmydyr holiday cottage

What is it?

Pontbrenmydyr is a mud and thatch cottage on the Llanerchaeron estate, typical of those once found in the Dyffryn Aeron. It is thought to date from 1750 and has been home to several generations of farm labourers.

This type of cottage is increasingly rare; many of them have either become derelict or fallen subject to unsympathetic renovation.
Pontbrenmydyr itself had been empty for around fifty years and was suffering from severe neglect. It urgently required careful restoration and conservation. Pontbrenmydyr has been saved and now forms a unique holiday cottage, helping to create income for other conservation schemes on the Llanerchaeron estate.

What we did and why

We have sensitively restored the cottage, conserving as much of the original structure, fixtures and fittings as possible.
We adopted a sustainable approach to the renovation and took the opportunity to include a number of modern technologies, such as a biomass pellet boiler and solar thermal panels to provide heating and hot water, plus rainwater harvesting to flush the toilet and to feed a garden tap.
We have also used sheep’s wool insulation alongside more traditional materials, for example where we have made repairs to the clom walls and the rare cruck-frame.

What else did we do?

We've made it possible for holidaymakers staying at the cottage to see how vernacular buildings such as this, can be modernised using sustainable techniques and technology.
The bathroom still contains the original cow stalls, with a hitching post and cobbled stone floor. Whilst a hatch has been put in the roof so that visitors can see the original hazel purlins, gorse under thatch and smoke-blackened oak trusses.

Why it was a success

The majority of this restoration project was carried out by Llanerchaeron’s team of craftsmen. The team members learnt and developed the skills required to repair vernacular buildings and also gained experience of installing modern sustainable technology.
Using our own in-house team means that any lessons learnt during this project can be applied to future renovations of this kind.