Black Mountains College is hoping to lead a bid to the UK Government Community Ownership Fund to regenerate the abandoned Victorian School in Talgarth into a community-run learning and arts centre for young people.

This is a joint venture between Black Mountains College (BMC) and Talgarth & District Regeneration Group, supported by Talgarth Town Council, representing the Community.

BMC has 65 students studying across both higher and further education courses including: Level 2 NVQs in Regenerative Horticulture, Sustainable Coppicing & Greenwood Trades, and Nature Recovery in partnership with NPTC Group of Colleges, and BA (Hons) Sustainable Futures: Arts, Ecology and Systems Change in partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University. 

Completed in 1875, the old Victorian School served many generations of Talgarth and was closed by Powys County Council in 2010. According to a consultation undertaken by Talgarth & District Regeneration group in 2021-22, the Victorian School in Talgarth is considered part of the town’s identity.

The building is considered culturally important as a shared historic experience uniting generations of local people who attended the school or used the building as children up until 2010. It is also considered a ‘Building of Note’ for both its social history, and visually.

The community consultations revealed concerns about residents feeling isolated from society, heightened by the COVID Pandemic, and their general need to come together.

Speaking about the building, a spokesperson for Black Mountains College said: “The predominant desire was to retain the building as a community asset, as a place for learning, to develop artistic and practical skills.

“The retrofit of the former school would bring an unused community building back into use, a building that is currently at high risk of deterioration or disposal. In fact, it is included by the national heritage body SAVE as a building at risk.”

The redevelopment of the school is proposed to be of the highest retrofit standards possible. This will provide the community with access to a demonstration site to showcase retrofit insulation, heat pumps and solar solutions to the energy and cost of living crisis in a region. The proposal offers a wide range of facilities to the Community including;

  • a learning centre for educating BMC students
  • a venue for community groups including photography workshops, a youth club, Hay and Talgarth refugee sanctuary
  • a repair Café at a subsidized cost
  • hot desk facilities
  • a self-service café
  • workshop and makers facilities for Arts activities including shared studio space
  • office space used by BMC to cater for additional recruitment of administrative and support staff as a result of growth
  • a ‘Community Garden’ managed by Grow for Talgarth
  • EV charging points

BMC and T&DRG jointly believe that education and skills provide a catalyst for new economic, social and environmental activity for the area within the principles of sustainable development.