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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:

Beacons & Surround Crafts Week 18th – 26th June 2022

Arts & Crafts Trail to 60 craft centres, galleries, shop windows,
churches & community centres.
Exhibiting, Demonstrating, & running Workshops.

Beacons & Surround Crafts Week is supported by a grant from the Brecon Beacons National Park’s Sustainable Development Fund. The fund supports projects that help improve quality of life in communities – protecting and enhancing the local environment, helping people to live healthy and fulfilled lives now and in the future.

Following this successful funding from the BBNP’s Sustainable Fund we received a wonderful number of expressions of interest from many Crafters, Craft Groups, Galleries, and Community Centres, in the Beacons and Surrounds, to participate in the ‘week’ long Crafts Celebration. These venues will be published in a brochure and map, and there will be road signs to guide you around the map.


We will add a list of venues to this page prior to the start of the event.

The participants will be doing some or all of the following:

  1. Run workshops 

  2. Open home/studios.

  3. Open their own gallery/craft shops.

  4. Have invited guest makers to exhibit or run workshops at their venues
    NB* please book any workshops at these venues directly with the venue unless specified otherwise.

Remember in this first year of the yearly festival it is FREE to be included in:

  • Beacons & Surround Crafts Brochure

  • Crafts Map & Trail

  • Website

  • Video

Leading up to this event, we have had various workshops across the area, as well as some zoom sessions and we are busy producing videos to add to the Big Skill You Tube site.

For more information, please email    Please note, registrations are now closed for 2022.

The project will also be offering the opportunities to provide placements, which besides helping you to set up and market your venue, crafts, & goods, will also provide opportunities for the participants to upskill and gain an Agored Cymru OCN qualification ‘Crafts From Waste’.


Use this instead of the bit about caring for the past ets



Big Skill cic – Caring for The Past, The Present, The Future.

The Forces That Shape Our Communities, Heritage project at Craig-y-Nos.


This 3 year Heritage Funded project based at the Craig-y-Nos country park will provide workshops, walks, heritage projects, environmental schemes, training opportunities.

Beacons & Surround Crafts Week 18th – 26th June 2022.


This is the first year of this BBNPA Sustainable Development Fund event, taking place at venues in and around the Brecon Beacons. Leading upto the event between March & June we are running 30 workshops at different locations.

Workshops for Carers in Monmouthshire & Herefordshire.


These are taking place at the Melville Centre, Abergavenny on a Wednesday, and at the Bridges, Monmouth on a Friday and in Herefordshire at various venues.

Waste-less Gardening, Cooking. & Workshops in Herefordshire.


Every Wednesday from 4 – 6 p.m. at Saxon Hall, Hereford we are running a gardening & cooking workshop (remember there are free veg plots available). Also in the new polytunnel & at other venues we will be running a range of cultural activities sessions.

ABCDE Activities Bringing Creativity & Developing Enjoyment for 0-5s in Powys.


Our workshops are for all ages from the very young to the very old. They are designed to be fun, creative and a social as well as a learning experience.

Make Do & Mend


clothes, books, & toys swop; Proud to Patch, Boro & recycling workshops. 5 sessions of 2 crafters at Saxon Hall from 5th April.




How we fund our workshops

We are grateful to the following organisations who are and have provided funding that enable us to provide FREE workshops & zoom sessions in Herefordshire, Powys, Monmouthshire & beyond:

National Lottery Heritage Fund; BBBNPA Sustainable Development Fund; Hereford Community Foundation; Hereford Council; Community First Worcestershire & Herefordshire; Ashley Family Foundation; Community Fund; Community Foundation Wales; GAVO; Powys Regional Parnership Board, Health & Social Care; Magic Little Grants; Welsh Water; Arnold Clarke; to mention just a few. Plus donations from Herefordshire Quakers, Big Skill trustees & workshop attendees.

In order to keep these free please let us have comments and photographs that we can share with our funders. We rely heavily on funding and donations, so if you can donate, even a £1, towards postage, tools, kits etc., it is very much appreciated.

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