Dowlais Stables


Giclee printed on 305gsm off white coloured archival paper with a subtle texture. A4 297mm x 210mm, A5 148 x 210mm.

SKU: DS Category:


I first encountered this rather austere building as a ruin as a young boy when it was used to store wood for the Guy Fawkes bonfire and later when it was thankfully repurposed as sheltered housing, where my grandmother would live. It actually started life as a stable range for the Dowlais works, built for Sir Josiah John Guest in 1820 and was also used a barracks for soldiers sent to quell riots by the iron workers during the Merthyr Rising (I mentioned earlier it was a hotbed of radical socialism). At one point it was also used as a school until the Dowlais Central Schools were opened.

Enveloped by terraced workers housing to the sides and rear known as the collar block on account of the rounded corners of the terrace (a feature apparently unique to Dowlais), the building was a rectangular form of ranges set around a railway served courtyard. Architecturally all that remains is the primary frontage and the stuccoed stable master house at the rear of the court. The building is a linear two storey symmetrical block comprising nine bay ranges arranged around a central entrance and two end pavilions. Decoration is used sparingly with tooled grey limestone dressings and quoins. Each of the end pavilions are articulated through recessed blind arches, roundels and are surmounted by coped pediments. A tall broad depressed arch provides access to the courtyard through the central pavilion. Its hierarchical importance in the facade is further reinforced through the circular clock face, dated stone plaque, star shaped tie rods and an octagonal cupola perched on the roof. Warmth and textural interest is provided by the brown hues of the rubble facing stone, indigenous to South Wales.

Some time later, in 1844 just below the Stables, a Market Hall was constructed, designed by Edward Haycock. As with the stables it took the form of a quadrangle and formed the commercial heart of Dowlais. Alas, it was demolished in 1972 along with the nearby police station and many of the terraced workers housing. Having lain derelict for many years the site was landscaped, improving the imposing aspect of the stable block.