The Old Vicarage Llangennith, Steve and Jane Howells
Steve and Jane Howells, have built this new house in Llangennith. It was designed by Buckmaster Batcup Architects. Steve had owned the cottage since he was a young man. Work took him away from the village but it had always been his dream to return and renovate the cottage so that he could live in it after his retirement.
The original cottage was extremely damp and all timbers had either wet or dry rot, it had been prone to flooding from the adjacent stream during excessively wet weather. A survey revealed that the invert of the stream was higher than the floor level of the house.
It was decided that the best option, was to demolish and rebuild. All the stone from the cottage, was set aside for re-use in the new build and 200m3 of top and sub soil was excavated and removed from site to form the footprint of the drive and garage. The garage was built first, and incorporates a 2.5m high ‘L’ shaped reinforced concrete retaining wall to two sides. The two visible elevations are clad in the reclaimed local old red sandstone/quartz conglomerate (Gower stone). The roof is natural slate, with the south elevation having 16 solar panels. All the stone used in the construction of the new house and garden came from the reclaimed stone from the original cottage.
Construction of the new house began in March 2014. With agreement from the planning authority, the new finished floor level is now 1.0m higher than the original. The main part of the house sits on the footprint of the cottage, although it is 0.6m deeper, front to back, with ceiling heights increased to modern standards. It is a two storey building with the loft space consisting of both storage and living space, with Velux windows. The rear of the property was sympathetically designed so as to give it the appearance of ‘an extension. The width is just over half that of the main frontage, and the ridge height 0.6m lower than that of the main roof.
The roof coverings are natural slate similar to the garage. The walls are solid concrete blockwork with insulated cavities, the majority have sand and cement rendering, which is painted white. The window and door reveals have been rounded. Two of the rear elevations are clad in Gower Stone to first floor level, with the remainder in horizontal T&G timber cladding. The window cills are Blue Pennant Sandstone.
The windows are sliding box sash, and these, plus the french and bi-fold doors, to the rear, are manufactured from ‘Accoya’, a re-engineered softwood, which is more sustainable and considered to have comparable performance to many hardwoods. All windows and doors are finished in a high-performance paint from Jotun. The front and back doors are manufactured from European oak.
The small front garden gate of the original cottage, was removed so that it could be restored, sadly, it was found to be beyond repair, so a replica was made instead. The driveway gates, are simple field type gates, manufactured from Iroko hardwood.
The hard landscaping is reclaimed ‘Gower Stone’ to all walls and the paving is a mixture of Indian Sandstone, and Italian Porphyry, ‘Patagonian Mauve’. A mixed hedge of ‘native species’ is to be planted at the front. A number of planting areas have been incorporated into the hard landscaping. The soft
landscaping is a mixture of beds/borders, lawn and wildflower meadow, which is dissected by a stream, whose source is Raven’s Well.
The house and garage are powered entirely by electricity, the heating and hot water, are provided by an air source heat pump.
Steve project managed the build himself, and used local craftsmen wherever possible.
The finished dwelling is a credit to the owners and those who worked on it. The frontal elevation facing the road is pleasantly traditional Gower. The rear has a modern twist that fits in comfortably with location. Like our other 2019 winners, The Round House, the completion has been a long slow process but worth the wait. Well done Steve and Jane.
The Round House, Robert and Victoria Griffiths
Robert and Victoria purchased the Round House in 2009 with the intention of restoring the tired and neglected building to a fine family home. The house had gained its name because it was a built on the site of a toll house which had operated in the early 19th Century. By the mid 1800’s the toll house was no longer in use and was later demolished.
After detailed investigations of some of the problems with the house, it was clear the building had reached the end of its effective life and repairs and upgrading were not a cost effective solution.
We selected Huw Griffiths as our architect as Huw has an excellent reputation and understanding of Gower and the sensitivity of the area. Designing a property that fitted in to the area was a big part of the brief. We were keen to keep the Round House name as the property has always been a landmark locally. Due to the name, building a square house seemed wrong from the start and we were keen to develop the design to not just be another square box.
We spent many months working with Huw and his team as the ideas evolved and were refined. After 18 months of development we had a design that we were happy to submit for planning approval. The planning process was very thorough and took time. Even after planning approval there were many planning conditions to satisfy and these added delay to the start of the project.
Being predominantly curved, the build took far longer to put together than a standard house with straight walls. Everything from the initial setting out, right through to fitting curved skirting and joinery took many times longer than usual. Every stage had to be measured and templated for the parts to then be manufactured before the next stage of building could commence.
The house was designed and built to be exceptionally energy efficient. The building is heavily insulated to reduce heat loss it even uses special heat saving cavity wall ties. It incorporates a full heat recovery ventilation system that enables the inside air to be fresh and yet warm. To prevent warmth leaking out through small gaps, the house was also built to be extremely airtight. We are very proud of achieving an air tightness score of just 1m3/M2 during the airtightness test.
Heating and hot water is provided by an efficient Ground Source heat pump which takes heat out of the ground behind the house. It only runs for a few hours in the afternoon to keep the house warm during the coldest weather. Solar panels proved free energy to the house and heat pump.
A rainwater harvesting system supplies water for the toilets, washing machine and for the garden and car washing to reduce unnecessary use of clean drinking water.
The materials used on the house are mainly traditional in nature, with local stone used for the window sills, chimneys and plinth, painted Accoya timber windows were manufacture locally and the walls are finished with painted sand and cement render. The roof upper roofs are finished with Welsh slate which are laid in diminishing courses on the front. The porch and timber cladding on the house and garage is European oak.
Brick and stone from the old house was reused in the landscaping. All of the limestone used to build the walls on the drive entrance was found buried under the old house. The Lime stone had obvious signs of previous use and was possibly the remains of the old toll house. We were very lucky to stumble upon and purchase just enough of the matching copper slag copings for the new walls which we found being used a verge markers on a private drive just a short distance away.
The Gower Society judges have waited for at least two years to consider this award. Its completion has been awaited with bated breath and even now it is not quite completed. Initially the Society was not happy about the demolition of the house that stood on this site at the time of the application. However the design appealed to the judges and there are aspects of it that reflect much earlier dwellings on Gower. The result is there for all to see and the care taken in rebuilding the stone boundary walls (those copper slag copings) was a master stroke.
Mewslade Drystone Wall
The reconstruction of the dry stonewall in Mewslade Valley was a project that we were delighted to have been associated with. As a major contributor to the Gower Landscape Partnership Scheme it was difficult to give it an award as a scheme.
However the workmanship, tenacity and final end product could be attributed to a single person. Andy Roberts commenced work in late 2016 and completed the final section in July 2019. He worked in all weathers, on his own and with only basic holidays to relieve the pressure to completion. Out of the 500 plus metres of drystone stone wall Andy rebuilt over 450 metres. Some of the wall was 3m high in places and it was a daunting task when it was first considered. Another stone waller Any Jones reconstructed the much shorter section and also showed considerable skills and tenacity as well as working in all weathers. We do not wish to detract from his contribution but only a single award was considered appropriate.
We therefore awarded Andy Roberts a unique personal Award for 2018 for his contribution to traditional stone walling on Gower.
The award was presented as usual at the AGM but regrettably Andy himself was conveying his parents from their home in Wrexham to their holiday destination in the north of England. However in his absence his partner Esta Ley received our award and said how pleased that she and Andy were and how proud that he was to have his workmanship recognised.
We urge any reader to submit suggestions for the 2019 Awards by late 2019 and for presentation at the 2020 AGM. It is impossible for the Committee to see every project within the City and County of Swansea and we prefer rural and fringe urban area projects from Rhossili to Mynydd y Gwair.
Scurlage Social Housing
14 semi detached houses constructed by Family Housing association Wales.
This award is given for the design and construction of 14 semi-detached two and three bedroomed houses on farmland owned by the City and County of Swansea. In effect this is an extension of a Scurlage that originally consisted of post war council houses, the majority that have now been sold to tenants. The houses are constructed to the highest modern standards and owned by the Family Housing Association Wales based in Swansea. There has been a huge demand for rented accommodation on Gower for local people.
Our Judges were unanimous of their decision to make a first time award for such development and were impressed with how the Gower AONB Design Guide had been closely followed to produce a development that seamlessly merges into AONB. They were particularly pleased with the open spaces that had been created in front of the new housing that reflected the original Monksland Road frontage.
The award was presented to Karen Dusgate and Jackie Royal of the Housing Association.
The Cliff Pennard
This award is for the recent extension that the owners Jamie, David and Jo Francis added to the business and completes a 20 year project. Unusually the project incorporates a new public toilet that will be run by the Cliff business and carried out in agreement with the City and County of Swansea.
The architects were John Rees Architectural Design, builders W Edgar Davies and Sons and Jenkins Project Development with skilled local craftsmen and women all contributing towards a great asset to this part of Gower.
The Owners were conscious of the responsibility that they had towards providing an interesting building that reflected upon the local heritage and existing neighbouring buildings. The Gower Society Judges thought that the development was sympathetic in the design and choice of materials and added to the quality of its location.
Blaen Myddfai Farm Felindre
Byre Conversion, An ancient and somewhat derelict byre turned into a superb holiday accommodation in the heart of wild ‘Upland Gower’
It was a pleasure for the judges to travel to Blane Mydffai and its magnificent location overlooking the Lliw Reservoirs. The design and workmanship was exceptional and the accommodation will provide guests with a unique insight into remote Upland Gower that is so close to the City of Swansea. Shame about the new wind farm on Mynydd y Gwair.
The owners wrote...
The cottage at Blaen Myddfai called Bwthyn y Bugail or Shepherds Cottage, was borne out of the need to restore the barn that was attached to the main house. Planning permission was sought and because we were advised that we would not be granted residential planning, holiday accommodation was applied for and duly granted.
Pilot House Swansea Docks Entrance
This Grade 2 listed red brick building was constructed in about 1880 by the Swansea Harbour Trust, after a fire destroyed a previous structure.
Sea Pilots have worked from Swansea Harbour for five hundred years . The Swansea Pilots (who were limited to 24 by the Harbour Trust) had the reputation of being the amongst the hardest and the very best seaman in the world. Their Pilot Cutters were incredibly fast and agile sailing boats until replaced by steam in about 1900. The port and its pilots were crucial to the industrial development of Swansea and the Swansea Valley. Swansea thrived because it had an excellent port and the fact that it took 3 tons of coal to smelt one ton of iron. Ample local high quality coal resulted in an extremely busy river mouth to export vast quantities to all over the world. Had it not been for the experienced pilots and the thriving port none of this would have been possible.
Current owners Drs Jonathan and Eira Paulus bought the dilapidated building in 2014 and embarked on an expensive restoration before opening it as Pilot House Cycles. They kept as many original features as possible. It seems fitting that fast handmade bikes are now made on the ground floor of this building and sold around the country and even the world.
Kilvrough Home Farm Workers Cottage
Lady Ann Green currently owns Kilvrough Farm. Her grandfather, Alfred Harries purchased it in 1926 after the break up of the Kilvrough Estate in about 1920. Ann's father subsequently carried on farming here . The original Kilvrough Farm dates back to about 1800 and the subject of this award, the farm cottage, was possibly constructed in about 1900 as a low cost ttimber framed building. Ann thinks that an older building could have occupied the footprint.
Lady Ann has restored the building and clad the externals with treated timber boarding as well as recovering the roof in Welsh slates. Traditional authentic looking wooden widows and doors have been added. All carried out by a local builder. We defy anyone to tell that they are not looking at an original structure of the early 1900's.
Cynghordy Farm House Rydypandy
The recent previous owners Dr Dafydd and Eiluned Thomas first saw Cynghordy in 1988 and were very excited about finding such a property so close to Dafydds work at Morriston Hospital. Although it was in need of a lot of work. The property's origins date back to about 1675 and it is mentioned in the Royal commissions Cottages and Farmhouses of Glamorgan as being originally a Welsh Long House. Surprisingly it is not listed.
Dafydd and Eiluned have moved up to Llandeilo and were pleased that the property has passed to Dr Stuart Jenkins and his partner from the Neath valley and he is just as eager as they were to look after this important property.
Cottages adjacent to King Athur Hotel Reynoldston
Restoration and conversion.
Orchard Cottage Burry Green
Heathfield, Pyle Well
Langland Cottage, Langland
Restoration and extension.
Tyn-y-cerig or TC, Pontarddulais
Long running restoration and extension.
New Square Bilingual Plaques
Dolphin and Hillcrest Cottages/Chalets, Stonesfield, Penmaen
Rebuilt on same footprint.
Hillend Farm, Fairyhill, Reynoldston
Rebuilt derelict farm and buildings.
Admiral’s Wood, Vennaway Lane
Bethel Chapel Sunday School, Penclawdd
The Coal House, Oxwich
The RNLI Boat Shed, Mumbles
Lane House, Llanrhidian
‘tin shed’ extension
72 Mayals Road
Lilac Cottage, Penmaen
Restoration / garage
N.T. Whiteford hut
New Bus Station, Swansea
4, Cefn Stylle Road, Gowerton
Henbury Cottage, Southgate
Penmaen Farm, Penmaen
renovation / extension
Ace Electrics building, The Strand
Gower Cottage, Reynoldston
Fairyhill Hotel, Reynoldston
Bettis Meadow, Slade
St. Mary’s Church, Pennard
for consistent excellence in building work mainly on Gower
Hilltop, Oxwich Green
Knelston Chapel + Manse
Backfield Cottage, Penrice
Conversion / restoration
Blackberry Barn, Llangennith
Woodbine Cottage, Landimore
Restoration / extension
Pound Cottage, Reynoldston
Glebe Farm, Cheriton
Elder Barn, Pennard
extension / barn conversion
Forge Cottage, Port Eynon
Mewslade View, barn conversion + confines, Middleton
Newhill Farm, Newton
The Nook, Oxwich
Corner House Farm, Middleton
The King Arthur Hotel, Reynoldston
Toilet block, Rhossili
Old Forge, Pilton Green
conversion / restoration
2 Park Hendy Crescent
Llanelen Farm, Welshmoor
Pitt Soggs Cottage, Bysouth, Penrice
St. David’s View complex, Llandewi
Mumbles Methodist Church, Mumbles
Three Elms, Middleton
Crwys Farmhouse, Three Crosses
St. Illtyd’s Church, Ilston
Hayes Farmhouse, Reynoldston
Mewslade Cottage, Middleton
Parc Lodge, Penmaen
barge board restoration
Tyddan Isa, Perriswood
Horton bus shelter
St Illtyd’s Church, Oxwich