Traditional stone barn conversion wins the Royal Welsh 2016 Farm Buildings Competition

9 July 2016

An impressive barn conversion offering high quality self-catering tourist accommodation in Meirionnydd has won the 2016 Royal Welsh Agricultural Society’s Farm Buildings and Works Competition.

The competition, confined to farms in Meirionnydd, the feature county at this year’s Royal Welsh Show, sought the best farm building within the county which is now being used for tourism.

All entries in the competition were examples of redundant stone-built farm buildings converted to provide accommodation and facilities for the farm tourism industry. Diversification into farm tourism has long been a key element in sustaining farm incomes in Meirionnydd and with the prospect of diminishing support systems, income from alternative enterprises is likely to become even more necessary.

The judges David Henderson MRICS, Colin Pugh FRAgS and Alan Williams, noted that “A recurring comment from entrants in this year’s competition was that by diversifying their farm business it had enabled at least one of the next generation to stay on the farm. Surely a crucial requirement for sustaining the viability of farming and rural life in the 21st Century.”

“The buildings and facilities entered in the competition were of a high standard throughout and demonstrated careful planning and commitment to significant capital investment in the future of the farm business.”

However, the attention to detail, the careful use of space together with the high standard of construction and finishes, whilst successfully retaining the character of the existing building and its surrounding area were the stand-out qualities which saw this year’s Farm Buildings Award given to Richard and Laura Ellis of Fferm Bryn Rhug, Islawrdref, Dolgellau.

Richard and Laura’s old stone cowshed lay derelict for many years until its potential was realised by converting it to self-catering tourist accommodation. Completed in December 2015, the cowshed now provides high quality facilities, sleeping up to four guests. The internal layout is an ‘upside down’ arrangement with bedrooms on the ground floor and kitchen/living space on the first floor to take advantage of the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

An external balcony and conservatory, with boot-room entrance provide additional space to the original building. Hard-surfaced and grassed areas all around the building are enclosed within a traditional stone field wall which anchors the whole development into its surroundings. A successful blend of original stonework features and timber trusses with modern internal finishes has been achieved and has resulted in a high quality facility

The winner will be presented with the Peniarth Estate Silver Trowel, given by the late Col J F Williams-Wynne CBE DSO MA FRAgS and a certificate on Tuesday 19 July at the Royal Welsh Show.