CPAT logo
Cymraeg / English
Elan Valley
Historic Landscape
Character area map
More photographs

Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Elan Valley: Elan Village
Rhayader Community, Powys
(HLCA 1132)

CPAT PHOTO 1526-14

Small and well-preserved estate village with stone-built houses, school, estate office in Arts and Crafts style built by City of Birmingham Corporation largely in 1909.

Historic background and key historic landscape characteristics

The former village of wooden sheds, accidents hospital, public hall and reading room, mission room, canteen, recreation room, gymnasium, post office, fire brigade depot, and bath house built between 1895–98 for housing the navvies who worked on the construction of the reservoir, together with recreation grounds. Like its successor, the early wooden ‘model village’ lay on the south bank of the Elan, opposite the main workshops which lay on the north bank, access to the village being by means of a suspension bridge. The existing iron suspension bridge (now out of use and replaced by a Bailey Bridge) has been replaced twice. Other elements of the early ‘model village’ included a ‘Doss House’ and an ‘Infectious Hospital’ higher up on the hills to protect the health and welfare of the workforce, and a police station for the maintenance of law and order. A bridge-keeper’s hut was also built on the south bank of the river, manned night and day to control unauthorised access to the village. At its height, the village housed about 1,500 navvies and other tradesmen and the school catered for over 200 children, with its own private water and electricity supplies, the hydroelectric generators below Caban-coch dam remaining in use today.

The present village, built to house maintenance workers, was completed in 1909. It is a small and well-preserved garden village below the lowest dam at Caban-coch along the south bank of the river Elan was designed by Buckland, Haywood and Farmer, architects, of Birmingham, between 1906–09 for maintenance workers at the Elan Valley reservoir scheme, replacing the former timber village built to house the workforce that constructed the reservoirs. The village comprises 11 detached and semidetached houses, including one for the school teacher, former school (Elan Valley Lodge), former Co-op stores (Caban View), former superintendent’s house and office (now the Estate Office) with iron railings and gate, shelter and fountain, small stone bridge. The buildings and structures are all in a high quality buildings in an Arts and Crafts style, mostly built in local rock-faced masonry with imported stone dressings and with slated roofs possibly of local slate. Plantings including chestnut and cedar along riverside, with planned open spaces.

The Bethania Chapel had been built by 1900 across the river at Llanfadog was built to replace Carreg-ddu Baptist Chapel submerged below the Caban-coch reservoir and to which the remains of those interred at the graveyard attached to the former chapel were removed. The Elan Valley Hotel which lies on the roadside to Rhayader, less than a kilometre from Elan Village was built in 1893–94. Four additional houses were built between the two world wars at Glan-yr-afon on the north side of the river and six bungalows were built behind the Elan Valley Hotel in the 1940s in connection with the construction of the Claerwen Dam.


Haslam 1979; Judge 1987; Listed Buildings lists; Regional Sites and Monuments Record

For further information please contact the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust at this address, or link to the Countryside Council for Wales' web site at

Privacy and cookies