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Rhaeadr Tannery

A Grade II Listed Building in St. Fagans (Sain Ffagan), Cardiff

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4872 / 51°29'13"N

Longitude: -3.278 / 3°16'40"W

OS Eastings: 311357

OS Northings: 177245

OS Grid: ST113772

Mapcode National: GBR HT.KD57

Mapcode Global: VH6F5.4WC9

Entry Name: Rhaeadr Tannery

Listing Date: 6 October 1977

Last Amended: 28 November 2003

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 13857

Building Class: Industrial

Location: One of the re-erected buildings in the open-air collection of the Museum of Welsh Life.

County: Cardiff

Town: Cardiff

Community: St. Fagans (Sain Ffagan)

Community: St. Fagans

Locality: Museum of Welsh Life, St Fagans

Traditional County: Glamorgan

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Saint Fagans

History

Brought from Rhaeadr, Radnorshire and the gift of a family who had been concerned for generations with the leather trade in mid-Wales. Probably late C18, with C19 alterations, operating continuously until the 1950s and the last oak-bark tannery in Wales to do so. It was re-erected at the Museum in 1968. The chief products of the tannery were heavy leathers for boots and horse harness. The complete tanning process as undertaken in the mill took eighteen months.

The Museum Council had recommended in October 1943 that 'an open-air museum was an essential auxiliary to the National Museum of Wales.' ; 'a Wales in miniature where in the confined area of one hundred acres the visitor will be able to wander through time and space.' This vision was made reality by Lord Plymouth's gift of St. Fagans Castle and Park to the National Museum of Wales in 1946. The gardens were opened to the public in 1947 and the house in 1948 but it was recognised that 'some time must elapse before any ancient houses can be re-erected in the Park'. The purpose of the Museum was that 'from different parts of Wales, farm-houses and buildings which would otherwise fall into ruin or be destroyed will be secured for re-erection, the chosen houses will of course be architecturally, historically and socially significant of Welsh culture'. The first building thus re-erected was the Stryd Lydan barn in 1951 and the ones which are included in the list are those re-erected between that date and 1972 and are thus all more than thirty years on their present site.

Exterior

Walls of rubble stone and louvred weather boarding, Welsh slate roofs. Roughly L-shaped with a further cross-wing on north-west - south-east axis at south-west end. This cross-wing contains a bark store and bark mill, the latter operated by water power; northern elevation of north wing of stone. The western portion of the northern wing has all its walls of stone and, on the lower floor, there are the office, weighing room and cellar with part of the drying section above on the first floor. One storey and loft to whole.
Almost all the features of the building face into the yard. South-west elevation to yard with three small 2-light openings with heads at eaves level and below, a door and window with single segmental headed arch, a segmental headed doorway with half-door and cambered headed window to damp cellar (for horse hides). South-west elevation of eastern part with first floor wall of louvred weatherboarding supported on timber posts; on first floor, part of drying section. Intermediate wing on north-south axis; northern five bays with first floor wall again of louvred weatherboarding supported on wooden posts; drying and currying section on first floor; twenty-two handler or floater pits for second process of tanning on ground floor. Removable ladder to first floor doorway at northern end; doorway at southern end with stone stair before it, the latter built against the northern wall of the single-storey beam house used for unhairing and fleshing and which has a hipped roof and stone walls, the west wall weatherboarded and with wide shuttered window and door openings.
Eight leaching pits for production of tanning liquor and eight suspender pits for tanning in middle of yard. Three lime pits, one offal pit, and one water pit on south side of yard to west of beam-house.
The outer facing walls of the whole structure are plain stone with minimal features, a taking-in door in the north-west gable, ventilation slits on the south-west wall of the grinding mill and the overshot waterwheel for the mill on the south-east gable.

Interior

Eight bay queen strut roof in the main range over the drying and currying section.

Reasons for Listing

Included as one of the first complete buildings re-erected at the Museum of Welsh Life, then the Welsh Folk Museum. This building is of considerable historic interest as one of the early exhibits, both for itself and for the way it has been displayed.

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  • II Hendre'r-ywydd Uchaf Farmhouse
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  • II Penparcau Tollhouse
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  • II Llawr-y-glyn Smithy
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