The Heritage of Canolfan Corris

Beginnings

The school opened in 1872 as a response to the 1870 Education Act enabling primary education to all children. It was comprised of 4 classrooms teaching from 4 to 11 year-olds and a separate headmaster's house.

In the following years it educated the children of this slate mining area. A fortunate few won scholarships for further education, but for most of the children it was down the mines at the age of eleven.

The War Years

During the Second World War, large numbers of children from the English midland towns were evacuated to the area. This brought challenges for the school, not only in finding the classroom space, but also to overcome the question of language. Welsh, not English, was spoken in the village.

In 1955 a new school opened by the railway museum. It was January, and all the school books were transferred in sledges in the snow. How times and climate have changed, for nowadays snowfall is a rare sight!

The YHA Period

A 'resting' period of some years followed, until the Youth Hostels Association bought the school in the mid-sixties. It was a 'basic' hostel--spartan in its facilities, with the only heat coming from a small stove in the common room

The sleeping quarters were of a typical open plan old army style. In 1991, the YHA decided to close the hostel as the building was showing decay and the costs of restoration were not deemed to be financially viable.

The Birth of Canolfan Corris

A period of research and financial review showed that there was a role for the building. The structure was sound, although it had suffered the consequences of neglect. The hostel had brought significant revenue into the village and its closure would have financial repercussions on the village community, especially the pub.

A successful development would also act a a catalyst for job creation within the Corris district; much needed in a rurally deprived area. With assistance from the ethical bank Triodos (to qualify the project had to be socially and environmentally beneficial to the local area) and Welsh Tourist Board, the building was purchased from the YHA in 1992. A major refurnishment, assisted with many voluntary contributions, was undertaken over the next three months.

The old school was, for nearly 100 years, the centre of education within the village and a focal point for its social heritage and culture. Even today, it has close associations for many of the villagers. It was important, therefore, that the development should maintain the character of the building and should create an ambience in keeping with its educational heritage.

The Centre opened in Easter 1992, not only providing 'quality' bunkbed accommodation for both the YHA membership and general public but also as a centre for education.