Rural Heritage Centre at Llanyrafon Manor, Cwmbran 

Torfaen County Borough Council

Joint Commendation Award Winner 2013

Name of client Torfaen County Borough Council
Contract value £1.06M
Project Manager Adrian Morgan, Torfaen County Borough Council
Architect Austin-Smith:Lord LLP, One Dunleavy Drive, Cardiff
Quantity Surveyor MJB Associates
Mechanical Engineer McCann & Partners
Electrical Engineer McCann & Partners
Structural Engineer Mann Williams
Clerk of Works Torfaen County Borough Council
Main Contractor John Weaver (Construction) Ltd

Project Description

The Rural Heritage Centre project constituted the sympathetic conservation and redevelopment of a Grade II* listed building known as Llanyrafon Manor Farm.  The listing places it amongst the top 8% of the UK’s most significant historic listed buildings.  Earliest records date the Manor to earlier than 1616.

The Llanyrafon Manor is a significant part of the heritage of the area. The site is located in a grassed enclosure beside the Afon Lwyd in a prominent position close to major road links and in an attractive area considered to be the gateway to Torfaen, situated at the very south of the Borough. Llanyrafon Manor has been developed as a Rural Heritage Centre and tourism gateway for the Borough of Torfaen to represent and conserve a rural way of life which is significant to the area’s cultural, built and community heritage.

The project aim has been to ensure that the rural heritage of the Borough of Torfaen is conserved, and interpreted, but also to encourage the development of rural heritage initiatives as a catalyst for economic development of the area.

The project value was approximately £1.07 million, with refurbishment being carried out over three floors, amounting to 533m2. The contract period was 52 weeks, work commenced 25th October 2010 and was completed 3rd October 2011.

The restoration project addressed essential structural repair work to badly rotten upper floor and roof timbers; refurbished timber windows and doors; repaired and re-stitched rubble and dressed stonework; repaired and replaced sandstone window surrounds; re-applied external limewash and internal lime plasterwork; laid new stone flag flooring in lieu of more recent concrete insertions (incorporating under-floor heating, as radiators would be incongruous); repaired lath and plaster, plank and muntin and timber panelled partitions; built new partitions; inserted a new staircase and a platform lift; and fitted out the interior for use as a Visitor and Heritage Centre, a Café, Tourist Information point, Education spaces and Offices for the Council.  On top of this, an area of the Manor was set apart for a Bat Habitat.


The Centre serves as the tactical hub / nerve centre for the delivery of the Rural Development Programme in the County Borough and underpins and bolsters the aims of the Local Action Group (LAG) and the Torfaen Rural Development Partnership. The main building provides facility to house various initiatives that will be run by enterprises / co-operatives / micro-businesses, developed by the Rural Diversification Officer.

The Manor House is a venue which provides training opportunities for the rural communities; farming families; micro and small enterprises and young people. Several businesses have used the conference rooms to conduct ‘away days’ for training purposes and local schools have used the Manor for inset days.

Within the Manor House, an area has been designated, and duly refurbished, to provide a café environment, with a patio area to the front of the building. A franchise has been let to a local catering company, which also provides catering for a variety of functions held at the Manor, including wedding receptions, tourist groups and historical society


There is a strong and active community group who have worked in partnership with the Borough in the development of the site. The development of the site has assisted in their development as a group. Other local groups that have utilised the facilities include Women’s Institute, cycling / walking / ecological groups, the Ancient Cwmbran Society, and a ‘young archaeologists club’. Specialist talks have been conducted at the venue, being delivered by Torfaen staff and outside bodies.

We included a wheelchair platform lift, toilets (ambulant and accessible) and vertical drainage runs for toilets all in one part of the 17th century building.

This was the one area of the building with an earthen ground floor and an intermediate timber floor which had been inserted in recent years, presumably because the original one had become too rotten.  As a result, no damage was inflicted on the historic fabric to make these insertions, yet the building was thereby made, if not fully accessible throughout, considerably more accessible than it was; and sanitary conveniences were incorporated.

The Chairman of CLAW, Cllr Wyn Evans of Carmarthenshire with Cllr B John Cunningham and Dana Eynon of Torfaen County Borough, 2013 Joint Commendation Award Winner and Dr Alan Knight (Advisor to Business and the Community (BITC))