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Beilu Du is a redundant Calvinistic Methodist chapel of 1800, rebuilt in 1868 with the small stable and school room added. It retains the long-wall facade typical of the early C19 and is listed for its special historic interest as a simple rural chapel retaining painted grained woodwork within.
Funding for restoration and development has proven difficult, Addoldai Cymru have managed to secure funding to repair the roof and restore the lathe and plaster ceiling, but the chapel remains inaccessible to the community or visitors.
The Trust is the only organisation in Wales with a remit to take into ownership a collection of redundant Nonconformist chapels in Wales for the benefit of the people of Wales. Main Aim To sustainably develop and interpret, bilingually, a Grade II listed redundant, rural chapel and associated school room/stable. An important historic and cultural asset in Pentrebach.
The Chapel has been redundant and in the ownership of the Trust since 2009, and there was concern that the building would deteriorate. They had approached various funders, including the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), to gauge their thoughts on prospective funding; they indicated that Beilu Du would not be a priority. However, they were able to secure funding to carry out major works to the roof and ceiling. The site is very constrained due to its location and rural nature. They had not carried out any formal consultation to date and limited engagement with the community. Beilu Du is a Grade II Listed building listed for its special historic interest as a simple rural chapel retaining painted grained woodwork within. It is a small rural chapel building with an associated stable on the ground floor with external steps to the vestry on the second floor. This is now becoming a rare example of this type of combined unit, many of these buildings having been lost to residential development. It is also in a constrained site, neighbour to Beilu Du house and with limited parking. Funding a sustainable re-use of the building whilst maintaining its character has been a challenge.
Due to the limited scope for the chapel auditorium itself it was felt that the best solution for the successful development of the building was the stable area on the ground floor and vestry situated on the second floor. The best way to find a solution to these problems was commission a specialist to test a variety of options through a feasibility study. This would enable the Trust to engage with local people to look for a sustainable new use for the stable and vestry. It has enabled them to determine whether a development opportunity makes good business sense, whether it is suitable for the community; socially viable and whether it is technically possible. It will also give them the necessary information to enable them to seek the necessary capital funding needed to repair and develop.
They also sought to tell the story of this chapel and to utilise digital technologies to interpret this to increase awareness and develop it as a visitor attraction. This project has enabled them to carry out extensive research, engage with local people and heritage organisations to collect a substantial amount of information about the history of the chapel locally and in the wider story of Methodism.
They had the chapel laser scanned, which provides a point cloud data set that gives an accurate record of the building and this data is now archived in the National Monuments Record. It also forms the basis for a laser “Flythrough” which will be available on their website and YouTube channel. It also forms the basis for animation within a 5 minute interpretative film. They have also produced a traditional leaflet. These digital and traditional interpretive material that will increase awareness of the story of this important chapel, both locally and to visitors, and will feature at the heart of future development of Beilu Du becoming a small visitor attraction.
The community of Pentre-Bach will benefit through the eventual sensitive reuse of the stable and vestry and the increased access to the chapel and the story of the chapel history. This will support the tourism and potentially the education sectors as the interpretation and access to the chapel could be a valuable destination and education resource.
Result Extensive research and engagement with local community members, key local historians, and utilising archive material from local/national heritage and history organisations they have substantially increased the available bilingual information and history of Beilu Du that has informed the production of digital and traditional interpretation which will add value to the local identity and available cultural resource. It will also enable them to link with other chapels in the care of the Trust in Powys- through a set of leaflets- one of Beilu Du and two other chapels in Powys. They have supported local business through the procurement of Powys based consultants and utilising and engaging with local business venues as much as possible, this has led to commitments from two key venues to hold leaflets and become keyholders.
They have also made use of Powys based heritage and history organisations through visits and discussions: including the Powys County Archives Office in Llandrindod Wells, the Carmarthen County Archives at Carmarthen, Brecon Library and Y Gaer, Brecon, Swansea University Library, Llanwrtyd Heritage Centre, as well as the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth. A link has been made with the local county primary school at Sennybridge with the aim of developing a school project based on the Eisteddfod aspect of the research; however, this has had to be postponed due to the current circumstances. An indirect benefit of their engagement has been a commitment from the community to support this from funds raised at community concert held at St. David’s Church, Llywel in November 2019 and will be a project that will be developed in the future. They have engaged with people from the Llanwrtyd Heritage Centre at a site meeting to discuss the adaption and change of use of a redundant chapel and the issues they faced through the development and ongoing management of the cultural asset. The case study produced has helped inform this project as well as being another cultural asset to link with.
Project Outputs/Outcomes Output
|Output (Case Level Indicator)||Achieved|
|No. of feasibility studies||1|
|No. of stakeholders engaged||7|
|No. of participants supported (awareness raising events only)||38|
|No. of businesses benefitting||4|