Industrial workers' housing in Wales

Characterisation, workers' housing in South Wales The emergence of Wales as an industrial nation was accompanied by overwhelming changes in the way people lived. Nowhere are these changes more powerfully demonstrated than in the landscape of housing - in the establishment of new communities such as those of the South Wales valleys, and also in the transformation of historic towns.

The maintenance of local distinctiveness has become established as an important objective in landscape management. Recognising that the built heritage is central to it focuses attention more sharply on the value of this housing stock, which is often the essence of local character. Although special examples of workers' housing have been listed and others may be in conservation areas, many have no designation at all. Today's emphasis on the collective value of the built heritage - the commonplace as well as the rare or special - calls for us to foster a greater understanding of these unprotected assets.

For industrial workers' housing anywhere, historical value and contribution to local distinctiveness will be enhanced whenever continued use and improvement respect and maintain the subtleties of character which arise from the unique history of each housing development. Together they tell the social, economic and cultural history of the majority of the inhabitants of Wales from the later eighteenth century onwards. Both grant-aided conservation and repair schemes, and routine care, need to be guided by careful appreciation of context and character.

Judith Alfrey
Inspector of Historic Buildings, Cadw