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Utopia Britannica

British Utopian Experiments 1325 - 1945

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Utopian communites in Wales are a mix of indigenous Welsh communities and those set up by English settlers drawn by the romance of the Welsh landscape, or simply it’s remoteness.

Industrial/Religous Settlement C1620
Settlement begun by a Rowland Vaughan - ended by 1620.
GRID REF: Golden Valley.
REF: Howell Harris & the Trevecka Family. A.W.Owen. MA Thesis Uni N.Wales 1957

Coleg Trefeca 1750 - C1847
Methodist community known as The Family (Y Teulu) partly inspired by the Moravians. Up to 100 members lived in the main house or on surrounding farms supporting themselves through agriculture & a variety of trades. The Presbyterian Church of Wales now run the house as a training centre and it houses a small museum.
GRID REF: SO146320
REF: Howell Harris & the Trevecka Family. A.W.Owen. MA Thesis Uni N.Wales 1957 http://www.trefeca.org.uk/ewelcome.html

Howell Harris Museum

A small museum dedicated to the work of Howell Harris and the Methodist community that he founded. Collection includes books, prints and furniture from the time of the community.

For information on opening times contact: The Warden.
Coleg Trefeca.
Trefeca. Brecon. Powys. LD3 0PP
Tel: 01874 711423 http://www.trefeca.org.uk/ewelcome.html

Melingriffith C1780s
Quaker ironworks which provided welfare provision for its workers through a benefit club and school. A small number of houses also built.
GRID REF: Glamorgan
REF: Quakers in Science and Industry.

Milford Haven 1793-1843
'Whaling colony' established by Quakers from Nantucket. Built a number of houses and meeting house. Most returned to America when the whale oil industry declined.
GRID REF: SM900058
REF: Quakers in Wales Today. Pub. Meeting of Friends in Wales.

Nantgwillt 1812
Large country house with 200 acre farm and extensive woodlands where the radical romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his first wife tried to set up a 'rendez-vous for the friends of liberty and truth’. The scheme to set up a radical rural commune failed as Shelley could not secure the necessary finances. The estate was flooded by the Caban Coch reservoir in 1903.
GRID REF: SN916629
REF: The Shelleys at Nantgwillt.D.Daven -port. / Shelley the Pursuit. R.Holmes

Tremadoc 1805 -
Model village built after the reclaimation of 2000 acres of Treath Mawr. Neat stone village laid out round a square with town hall and market. A 'great embankment' was built across the mouth of the river Glasyn nearly bankrupting Madock. The poet Shelley lived for a while at Tan-yr-allt whilst trying to help raise funds for the scheme. Tradition has it that Tremadoc was the starting point of Prince Madog's 12th century voyage to America. The villages name has recently been changed to Tremadog.
GRID REF: SH561402
REF: Villages of Vision/Shelley the Pursuit. R.Holmes/History of the Llynn Peninsula

Blackwood 1820
FOUNDER/LEADER: John Moggridge
Successfull 'Owenite' inspired community set up by local industrialist on self-help/self-build basis. Small plots were let on long leases to local miners who built their own cottages. Also shops, workshops, a school & market house. Became the small town of Blackwood.
GRID REF: ST180973
REF: Villages of Vision

Ynysddu C1820s
FOUNDER/LEADER: John Moggridge
Village on same lines as Blackwood.
GRID REF: ST182933
REF: Villages of Vision

Trelyn C1820s
FOUNDER/LEADER: John Moggridge
50 houses built as a spin off from the commnity at Blackwood.
REF: Villages of Vision

Pant Glas 1840
'Unofficial' Owenite group farmed 1000 acre Welsh mountain estate under the name: The Community of United Friends.
GRID REF: SH473478?
REF: Heavens Below

Garnlwyd 1847-55
Early Christian Socialist community set up on 90 acres by the Leeds Redemption Society. 14 members attempted to set up a scheme based on a Christian version of Owenism & Fourierism. The society issued it's own paper the Herald of Redemption. Sent shoes and farm produce back to Leeds for sale in their own shop.
GRID REF: Nr Carmarthen
REF: Heavens Below

Betws-y-coed Artists’ Colony C1850 - 1914
Artists’ colony that grew up in the late 19th century after the area was first 'discovered' by the landscape painter David Cox. Large numbers of artists & tourists flocked to the area on the new railway. Liverpool artist Clarence Whaite was a central figure & although no Betws school of art formed the colony was part of the forming of a distinct Welsh artistic identity.
GRID REF: SH794566
REF: The Betws-y-coed Artists' Colony.

Barmouth 1874
An acre of rocky ground together with some cottages given to the St Georges Guild. One of the residents, Auguste Guyard, an exiled French social reformer, cultivated rare herbs and trees on the hostile soil, and went some way towards achieving Ruskin's vision of land restoration. A combination of legal difficulties and Ruskin's poor health left the scheme under the effective management of the donor rather than the Guild.
GRID REF: Location Unknown
REF: Alt.Com 19th Cent Eng.

Cardiff Settlement C1905
Welsh University Association for the furtherance of social work.
GRID REF: Grove Ho.Richmond Cres.
REF: Listed in Labour Annual 1905

Caldey Island 1906 -
Set up as an Anglican community, the reformed order of Benedictines, who converted to Catholism in 1913. The island was sold to Cisterian monks in 1928 and the original community moved to Prinknash.
GRID REF: SS142965
REF: Utopian England

Swansea 'Garden Suburb' C1910
Following the Cheap Cottage Exhibition at Swansea in 1910 Raymond Unwin was asked to design a Garden Suburb for the town. The suburb was never built but the original exhibition cottages still stand.
GRID REF: Mayhill Swansea.

Rhiwbina Garden Village C1913
Perhaps the best example of a Garden Village scheme in Wales. Now a conservation area.
GRID REF: Nr Cardiff
REF: Garden City Movement Up to Date.1913 E.G. Culpin http://www.rhiwbinavillage.net

Merthyr Taff Garden Village
Small mining Garden Village.
GRID REF: ST980105
REF: O/S Map.

Gorseinon Garden Village
Garden Village development.
GRID REF: SS 599967
REF: O/S Map.

Pengam Garden Village
Garden Suburb development carried out in co-operation with local mining union.
GRID REF: ST149171 Rhymney Valley
REF: A.Taylor

Hengoed Garden Village
Garden Suburb development carried out in co-operation with local mining union.
GRID REF: ST145549 Rhymney Valley
REF: A.Taylor

Aberaman Garden Village
Garden Suburb development carried out in co-operatition with local mining union.
GRID REF: ST011008 Nr Aberdare
REF: A.Taylor

Wrexham Garden Village C1917
Co-partnership Garden Village scheme set up for local miners by the Welsh Garden Cities movement.
GRID REF: SJ366523
REF: The Architectural & Social History of Co-operative Living. L.F.Pearson

Barry Garden Village C1917
Seaside Garden Village built on hillside overlooking Barry.
GRID REF: ST103668
REF: Garden Cities Upto Date.

Sealand Estate C1917
Garden Village development
GRID REF: SJ328692 Queensferry
REF:The Architectural & Social History of Co-operative Living. L.F.Pearson

Machynlleth Garden Village C1920s
Very small Garden ‘Village’ on the edge of Machynlleth. A handful of house arrange around a small square.
GRID REF: SH754008
REF Garden cities upto Date.

Capel-le-ffin 1924-28
Bleak & remote semi-ruined monastery leased by Gill after he left Ditchling (Sussex). Here a small group of families lived a frugal lifestyle whilst Gill carried on his sculpture & typography work.
GRID REF: SO256317
REF: Eric Gill.McCarthy/Utopian England

Maes-Yr-Haf Settlement house 1927 -
House affiliated to the Educational Settlements Ass. set up by the Friends Coalfield Distress committee. Set up 52 'occupational clubs' with 9000 members, some in self-build clubhouses where the WEA ran classes in philosphy, social ideals, country dancing, radio listening, music, drama & singing. In 1932 a holiday home by the sea was acquired.
Other settlement houses were set up at Mythr Tydfill, Risca, Bargoed & Rhymney, Pontypool, Dowlais, Brynmawr, Aberdare and Ponty Pridd.
REF: Our Unemployed:; Can the past teach the present?. Margaret.R.Pitt.

Friends Coalfield Distress committee clubhouse

Brynmawr 1928-39
Small Quaker 'family' house started by Peter & Lillian Scott to do relief work in the town. Initially provided food, clothes, boot repairs and ran soup kitchen. Grew to include several small industries - bootmakers, furniture makers and small co-operative mine. Ran a District Poultry Ass. and organised several International Voluntary Service camps. Expanded further and became the Subsistance Production Society when they took over the Rhydw & Hafod farms, establishing a model piggery & planting 20,000 trees.
GRID REF: SO192119 31 Alma st.
REF: Our Unemployed.

Llandegveth 1936-39
30 men worked the Court Perrott dairy farm as part of the Eastern Valley Subsistance Production Society (SPS).
GRID REF: SO192119
REF: Our Unemployed.

Beili Glas 1936-39
Small SPS site. Reared pigs and grew veg. Also produced stone, chippings, bricks and joinery for building.
GRID REF: SO192119
REF: Our Unemployed.

Trevethin 1935-39
Fruit farm unit for the SPS. Six flats were also built by the SPS.
GRID REF: SO192119
REF: Our Unemployed

Pontymoile 1936-39
3 small sites run by the SPS growing fruit & veg under glass. Grew 3000lbs of tomatoes in 1935.
GRID REF: SO192119
REF: Our Unemployed.

Griffithstown 1936-39
16-acre SPS site producing chickens, pigs & veg.
GRID REF: SO192119
REF: Our Unemployed.

Pontnewydd 1936-39
Rural SPS site produced 'Welsh honey' poultry & veg. Also woodwork shop.
GRID REF: SO192119
REF: Our Unemployed.

Cwmbran 1936-39
Most southerly SPS site produced poultry, hay & veg.
GRID REF: SO192119
REF: Our Unemployed.

Cwmavon 1936-39
Central multi-purpose workshop for the SPS housed in the old brewery. From here a workforce of 200 ran a bakery, knitting, tailoring and shoe-repairs. Also various handicrafts, weaving & cabinetmaking. A canteen was set up along with a barber’s, a dentist’s and a confectionary shop. Acted as a central distribution point for other SBS sites in the area.
GRID REF: SO192119
REF: Our unemployed.

Subsistance Production Society workshop Cwnavon

Trebeferad Land Settlement Scheme 1936
600 acre 'jewel in the crown' of the Welsh Land Settlement Association providing employment for 60-70 unemployed miners. The settlement kept pigs, sheep and poultry, but there was an emphasis on market gardening. Crops included spring cabbage, peas, carrots, Brussels sprouts and strawberries. Three acres of glasshouses were built for the production of tomatoes. Produce was sold to merchants in Cardiff and Bristol and as far a field as Plymouth. 60 model homes were laid out in a Garden village-like fashion by the association's architect Alwyn Lloyd based on plans fostered during the long campaign for progressive housing promoted by the Welsh Garden Cities Association
GRID REF: Boverton Glamorgan
REF: Trebeferad - A land settlement in the Vale of Glamorgan. Local History Diploma Thesis (1993), National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

Fferm-Goch (Red Farm) Land Settlement scheme 1930's
One of five Welsh Land Settlements which were set up by "The Welsh Land Settlement Society". The aim of the Society was to provide employment for men from high unemployment areas.
GRID REF: Nr Llangan Glamorgan
REF: http://www.llantwit-major.net/memories.shtm

Pembroke Land Settlement scheme 1930's
One of five Welsh Land Settlements which were set up by "The Welsh Land Settlement Society". The aim of the Society was to provide employment for men from high unemployment areas.
GRID REF: West Wales exact location unknown
REF: http://www.llantwit-major.net/memories.shtm

Sealand Land Settlement scheme 1937-8
One of five Welsh Land Settlements which were set up by "The Welsh Land Settlement Society". 30 houses were built on Sealand Manor Farm. The aim of the Society was to provide employment for men from high unemployment areas.
GRID REF: Flintshire
REF: http://www.llantwit-major.net/memories.shtm

Newport Land Settlement scheme 1930's
One of five Welsh Land Settlements which were set up by "The Welsh Land Settlement Society". The aim of the Society was to provide employment for men from high unemployment areas.
GRID REF: exact location unknown (off theA48?)
REF: http://www.llantwit-major.net/memories.shtm

The Island Farmers C1940s
Wartime co-operative farm.
GRID REF: SN005402
REFThe Island farmers

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Site last updated 3.1.2007