The Forces That Shape Our Communities is a 3 year Heritage Funded project based at

Craig-y-Nos & the Swansea Valley, looking at old industrial work places, & the history of the workers’ home lives & work conditions; the skills they had, the materials & plants they used, the effect their work had on the landscape.

We launched this project with our Open Day at Craig-y-Nos on Saturday 15th January.

In the invigorating air of the Country Park, visitors joined in a clay workshop with Rebecca Buck, painted a picture with Karin Mear, made a rag rug brooch with Bridget Morgan, recycled ideas with Katey Lyons, created crafts & cards with Julia Harris, and had opportunities to sign up to an accredited training course, volunteer for some environment work, or register for a placement.

There were also opportunities to go for a historical walk with Alan Bowring, or an amble with Adele Nozedar, as she explained the forgotten uses of plants. 

Workshops & Walks  helped us explore the past & re-imagine the life of those who worked here, whether that was in the kilns or the quarries, the mines or the fields, the servants & gardeners in the big houses, the patients in the TB hospital, or the industries that kickstarted the industrial revolution. 

Help us research the history, or, via our camera conversations, share stories that have been passed down to you. The project will look at the language, culture & skills, that those who migrated into the area brought with them, & the places where they took their skills when they emigrated. 

Create connections with these communities, & with those communities living at the locations where the Valley’s coal seams reappear on the other side of the Atlantic.

Traditional skills will be revived for environmental work, for pleasure, for socialisation & sharing of skills, or for work enhancement. 

By the Wellingtonia, a bench made up of clay tiles depicting heritage and wildlife will be erected; out of the old stocking lake will appear fish made in the workshops; clay sculptures will be set in the area where resurgence waters emerge from the Ogof Ffynon Ddu cave system (made ‘famous’ recently when, cavers from all over the UK  came together to rescue an injured colleague).

Nearby past Adelina Patti’s boating lake is, the Pavilion. This had 3 lawns – croquet, tennis & entertaining, as well a place to listen to Adelina performing. Even now in the dead of night under a cold moon, it is said you can still hear her singing a lament for her mystery lover, who disappeared on that fateful night all those years ago.  

The project is designed to once again open up creativity with workshops, not only at Craig-y-Nos & local centres, but also throughout the Beacons via the BBNPA Sustainable Development Fund’s Beacons & Surround Crafts Festival 18th – 26th June.

Although the project has one eye on the past, it has the other on a sustainable future & environment for the area, by running creative workshops, enriching tourists’ experiences, providing accredited training and work opportunities, as well as zero waste initiatives such as a Waste Recycling Register, Make Do & Mend & Proud to Patch projects, & crafts from waste courses.

You can be involved in many different ways:-

Design & create clay tiles for an animal & heritage bench.

Paint a picture of the area or your ancestors

Take a walk to the limekilns & quarries & to identify the forgotten plants

Make recycled metal bugs to live on the lake island & fish for the lake

Carry out research projects –

  • History of the industries, limekilns, quarries, mines.

  • Where the workers came from, where they emigrated to.

  • Living & working conditions of the workers.

  • Adelina Patti & history of the house & servants

  • TB hospital

  • How to engage & immerse tourists in the activities on offer

  • Geopark & Industrial Hamlets


Recycling Projects:

  • Waste Recycling Rating & Own your waste project

  • Make Do & Mend & Proud to Patch


Environment work – volunteer to help with protection of river banks, dry stone walling, hedge laying, and clearance.

Share stories of your grandparents with our camera conversations

Forge Links with the communities where local workers emigrated to & where local seams re-emerge in the Appalachian Mountains & in Spain.

Placements – with local businesses.

Training – crafts from waste, dry stone walling, park maintenance.

Craft Workshops – clay, painting, felting, textile upcycling, willow craft, recycled metal bugs, embroidery, charcoal making, bushcraft, forest bathing, dry stone walling, hedgelaying, spinning weaving, glass.

For more information about joining in and the workshops, please email:

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