Recently the core Highlife team attended the SPAB South Wales working party, which was held at Craig Gwladys near Swansea. The site is now a lovely nature reserve, with barely a handful of relics to remind those walking its trails of the coal mining heritage which once industrialised the area. The main aim of the working party was to repoint some ruined railway abutments which lie on either side of path, with an additional aim to remove vegetation from a coal bunker, which is the largest remaining structure.
One of the Highlife team members, Steve Hogarth, is a recent SPAB fellow and was therefore helping to run the working party. The rest of us however were there to learn, and whilst we were happy to assist with the pointing work and the setting up of rigging for the de-veg work, we were mostly keen to get stuck into some of the practical workshops which were happening.
Of particular interest was the burning of a local limestone in a mobile lime kiln, to create a feebly hydraulic lime which was then used as part of the pointing work. This was particularly satisfying as the lime was burned using charcoal which was made on site using wood from the forest, and for those of us not used to such processes this was a very satisfying full circle to take part in.
Click on the photos below for a full screen slide show
Although we were only able to attend for a couple of days, it was a very enjoyable time with some lovely and enthusiastic people. The SPAB does fantastic work in its efforts to conserve not only our British monuments and buildings, but also the philosophy of conservation itself, and Highlife is enthusiastic about doing what we can to align with their principles, so spending time with some of their team and talking about all thing conservation was always going to be a great time. And we would encourage anyone in the Swansea area to go for a walk around the lovely Craig Gwladys, with its wonderful history and beautiful waterfalls.