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Protecting and celebrating the townscape of Dolgellau

A prominent characteristic of Dolgellau is its tall buildings of grey dolerite and slate, along with its web of narrow streets, which have evolved and developed haphazardly over four centuries. 

One hundred and eighty of the town’s buildings are listed, and many of the town’s historic buildings, mainly commercial properties, have been derelict, vacant or partially vacant for years. 

The Project

To help regenerate the town, the Dolgellau Townscape Heritage Project, a partnership between Snowdonia National Park Authority, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cadw and Gwynedd Council, was established in 2016 as the second phase of the Dolgellau Townscape Heritage Initiative. 

The project will offer grants towards building repairs, restoration of lost architectural features as well as bringing empty floors back into economic use. 

The initiative also aims to promote awareness of the town’s heritage and encourage residents and visitors to become more involved in their cultural heritage. 

Penmaen Cottage

Penmaen Cottage is a traditional Grade II listed 18th-century farmhouse near Llynpenmaen, Dolgellau (Penmaenpool). 

The condition of its traditional slate roof had been deteriorating for several years, and the property had been listed on the Snowdonia National Park Authority’s Buildings at Risk register. 

The owners received a grant from Cadw to restore the building. A condition of the grant was that traditional skills training must be provided as part of the work. This led to collaboration with Snowdonia National Park Authority to offer traditional slate roofing training under the education and training elements of the Dolgellau Townscape Heritage Initiative. 

The 10-day training course was free to attendees, who ranged from contractors and professional consultants to local authority officers and national organisations.  

The training was a great success, with 75 people attending. Attendees had the opportunity to gain practical experience of the complexity of a traditional reduced mismatched slate roof, including half swept valleys. 

For a more detailed account of the re-roofing of Penmaen Cottage, as well as photos and videos, visit the Stone Roofing Association website.

Siop Newydd

Siop Newydd (translated New Shop) has been a commercial property in the centre of Dolgellau for some time. The rear range’s construction date is uncertain, but the surviving windows and some fittings date back to the 19th century.  

The presence of a large timber beam over the stairwell and the alignment of the exposed woodwork hints towards earlier stages of construction. The cellar has a chamfered and stopped wooden beam under the front range, suggesting that it may have been reused from a ceiling, possibly from the building which was replaced by the front section of the current building in the early 1820s. Beams of this kind were not uncommon in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

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