Since 2009 Glynneath Training Centre have been working on the Walled Garden at the Rheola Estate and developing its use as a centre for education, training and volunteering.
Our Vision for the future of the Walled Garden encompasses three themes.
Learning as a community how to grow food, how to preserve and use it to promote good health
Valuing the natural environment and its many constituents.
Training in traditional crafts such as stonework, green woodwork, bushcraft and willow crafts
Volunteers and work experience placements are essential to the Walled Garden and play a major part in developing the site.
This means that facilities will develop as time goes on, so although the major work of rebuilding walls and paths is mainly completed, don’t come expecting to see a finished garden. We are very keen for local people to get involved in this project and help turn ideas in to reality.
We have reclaimed the Walled Garden and rebuilt three greenhouses, now used for growing fruits, vegetables and other plants. The old gardener’s cottage has been rebuilt to be used as a course venue.
We are proud of what has been achieved, and are grateful for the support of funding from Environment Wales, The Welsh Government’s Western Valleys Programme, Groundwork, Y Gronfa Wledig, WREN and Collaborative Communities.
Rheola is an excellent example of an early 19th century country estate; complete with the original Grade II listed Rheola House, designed by Regency Architect John Nash in 1809. Experts place the Rheola Estate in the top five of John Nash projects in Britain. The historic landscape is Cadw Registered. The Walled Garden originates from about 1812, but became derelict during the 1950s.
In partnership with Neath Port Talbot Unitary Authority and estate owner, Howard Rees, the Walled Garden has been leased to the Glynneath Training Centre for 25 years.
In 2009, Glynneath Training Centre took on the task of restoring the garden: clearing trees, building paths and rebuilding the stone walls. The garden was totally overgrown and the ruins of walls and buildings covered in ivy and trees. The task was enormous, as much of the site needed total re-building.
With guidance from CADW all structures were restored or rebuilt using traditional methods and using as much reclaimed material from site as possible. Within the garden, the Centre’s horticulturist restored the original paths and prepared the ground for planting. Three of the original Victorian greenhouses were restored. The garden walls and potting sheds were restored by a stonemason and students from Neath Port Talbot College’s Construction course, using conservation construction methods.
The Gardener's Cottage was totally rebuilt by a stonemason and a team of construction companies, using lime mortar and reclaimed stone. With support from NPTCBC Planning Department, we ensured the ‘new’ Gardener's Cottage closely reflected the traditional build and features of the original building.
You can see more photos of the project on Flickr here:
Make friends with us on facebook " Rheola Garden"
We currently work closely with the two local primary schools to arrange regular visits to Rheola. We aim to give pupils the experience of time spent in nature, the oppurtunity to learn about growing food, have a go at gardening, try out different craft activities and work together on stimulating activities.