The Welsh Borders
24th - 27th April 2017
One of a series of unique, small-group tours, led by the key experts in the field, exploring the impact of technology on our great country houses and the people who lived and worked there.
Led by Dr Ian West
3 nights, half-board in comfortable 4 star accommodation - £590 per person
( Includes £80 of entrance and special tour fees. Discount for NT members )
Special half-price book offer:

"Technology in the Country House" by Marilyn Palmer and Ian West available with this tour
Booking is closed for this tour

During the late 18th and 19th centuries a variety of technological innovations were becoming available to enhance the comfort and convenience of domestic life but, far from urban centres, the great Country Houses had to be self sufficient in the provision of gas, electricity, sanitation and water supply if they wished to make use of them.

Subsequently, the decline of many country houses, together with their being donated to the National Trust and their opening to the public, has meant that less alteration has taken place than in domestic property and evidence survives of the impact which these innovations had on the buildings, landscape and social structure.

For a number of years Professor Marilyn Palmer and Dr Ian West have been studying the technology in a wide range of country houses, examining both the physical remains and the historical evidence and trying to place them in the wider context of the effects they had on country house servants as well as house owners, families and guests.

Heritage of Industry is delighted to have secured Prof. Palmer and Dr West to lead this series of unique tours where they will guide us through some of theses grand residences, help us to understand some of the fascinating artefacts still to be seen and explain how they changed the lives of those who lived there – both above and below stairs.

Unlike coach company tours, which rely on the normal guides, our expert leaders, working in conjunction with the Collections Managers, give a unique insight to these properties. In most cases, we secure access to the properties early in the day when the houses are not yet open to the public so that we will have the place to ourselves for the duration of the tour and in certain cases are granted permission to see areas not normally open to the public.

At each property, after our special tour, we try to make time for you to further explore the house and gardens.

This tour explores The Welsh Borders, an area of great natural beauty and with some magnificent examples of the great Country House with the remains of some fascinating early technology. It is bound to attract great interest so book early to avoid disappointment

Note that the order of visits may vary from that shown below


Day 1

The tour is based at the comfortable and historic Prince Rupert Hotel in the heart of the medieval part of Shrewsbury and is a central location for all the visits.

The group will assemble for dinner at 19:00 served in a private room after which there will be a talk by Dr West: “An Introduction to Country House Technology”

Day 2

In the morning we will drive just over the border into Wales and to Chirk Castle.

Chirk was completed in 1310 and, although re-modelled by Pugin in the 1840s and modernised further in the early 20th century, it remains the last Welsh castle from the reign of Edward I that's still lived in today. Features from its 700 years include the medieval tower and dungeon, 17th-century Long Gallery, grand 18th-century state apartments, servants' hall and historic laundry.

Evidence of the later phases of improvement include the remains of the 1850s gas works, with many former gas lights later converted to electricity, the laundry and kitchens, electrical bell system and early telephones. The service areas also display unusually clear evidence of how male and female staff were kept apart.

The award-winning gardens contain clipped yews, herbaceous borders, shrub and rock gardens. A terrace with stunning views looks out over the Cheshire and Salop plains.

Lunch is available in the café on site.

In the afternoon we will visit what is widely acclaimed as one of Britain's finest historic houses. Erddig is a fascinating yet unpretentious early 18th-century country house reflecting the upstairs downstairs life of a gentry family over 250 years.

Although the Yorke family at Erddig made most of their money from industry, they had an ambivalent attitude to innovation. They eschewed electric light and motor vehicles until at least the 1960s but the house has one of the few surviving examples of a Haden hot air stove and there are plenty of examples of technology on their estate, including a steam engine, an impressive range of outbuildings, stables, smithy, joiners' shop and sawmill. The house also cleverly displays the Yorke’s curious attitude to their servants, with the unique collection of portraits they commissioned and the poems they wrote about them.

Outside, the 13.5-acre walled garden has been there since the early 1700s, you'll find rare fruit trees, water features, a Victorian parterre and one of the longest herbaceous borders in Britain.

After dinner at the hotel the evening is at leisure.

Day 3

In the morning we will visit Powis Castle. Originally built circa 1200 it was the stark medieval fortress of Welsh princes but was transformed by family fortune into a richly decorated Baroque castle with each generation of the Herbert family adding to the magnificent collection of paintings, sculpture, furniture and tapestries. It remained largely un-modernised until 1892, when the 4th Earl of Powis started to use it for shooting parties.

It boasts many fine examples of late 19th-century heating and sanitation artefacts, with electric lighting added later. The Edwardian generator house and laundry complex is particularly striking.

The world-famous garden, overhung with clipped yews, shelters rare and tender plants. Laid out under the influence of Italian and French styles, it retains its original lead statues and an orangery on the terraces.

Lunch is available at Lady Henrietta’s café on site which emphasises the use of locally sourced produce.

In the afternoon we cross back into England to visit Stokesay Court, which is a magnificent late-Victorian mansion set within extensive grounds in rolling South Shropshire countryside, commanding panoramic views of Ludlow and the Clee Hills and is described in Pevsner as “the most grandiloquent Victorian mansion in the country”. The house was completed in 1892 for John Derby-Allcroft who became wealthy in the glovemaking business.

At the time it was built, it was at the cutting edge of technology. The architect, Thomas Harris, had designed industrial buildings and used this experience to incorporate modern features, such as ducting and trunking throughout the building, and underfloor heating in the Great Hall. Stokesay is one of the earliest houses in England to have been built with integral electric light, which was installed by Edmundsons Ltd. Much of this original installation is still visible today.

The property was the location for the film “Atonement” and some of the sets they used have been preserved. It is owned and occupied by a descendant of the original owner and is only occasionally open to the public and we will be able to visit parts of the house which are not normally on display so this is a rare opportunity to visit a unique survival.

After the tour there will be tea in the Dining Room with home baking, and you will then be free to explore the gardens at leisure.

After dinner at the hotel, Ian will talk on the more technical aspects of Country House Technology, including lighting, heating and communications.

Day 4

In the morning we shall visit Attingham Park which was built for the 1st Lord Berwick in 1785 and was in continuous ownership by the family for more than 160 years. The house was built around the outside of a smaller house, which was not demolished, giving it a curious layout. Work is currently ongoing to rescue and restore the stunning Nash roof that covers the Picture Gallery, and we may be able to step behind the scenes to find out more about this fascinating task. Most of the contents were sold in the 19th century and the National Trust is still working to restore the house and the extensive kitchen gardens to their former glory.

The service areas, particularly the kitchens, are good examples of their type and the servants’ bells are amongst the best-preserved in the country.

The Mansion is at the heart of this great estate between Shrewsbury and the River Severn and is set in beautiful parkland designed to impress. Home to a wide range of wildlife, the highlights on the estate include the Deer Park and the walled garden.

Lunch is available in the cafés on site.

After the visit the coach will drop off at Shrewsbury Station by 14:00 and then the hotel, where the tour ends.


Dr Ian West graduated in Engineering before joining the gas industry. He became a Chartered Engineer and held a number of engineering and senior management posts before leaving industry to study Industrial Archaeology at Birmingham University’s Ironbridge Institute, where he obtained his MA. He did his Doctoral studies in the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology, researching the impact of artificial lighting on early factories. He is an honorary visiting fellow at the University of Leicester and has given numerous papers and lectures on utility industries, domestic technology and other aspects of industrial archaeology.


Not forgetting your own comfort and convenience, this tour includes accommodation at the comfortable and historic Prince Rupert Hotel which is in the heart of the medieval part of Shrewsbury.

All rooms are non-smoking and have ensuite bathrooms, high quality Hypnos pocket sprung beds, Skopos and Panaz designer fabrics, flat screen LCD TV with Freeview, duvet, direct dial telephone, hair dryer, welcome tray with biscuit, BT Openzone WiFi, quality fluffy towels and quality toiletries.


The tour starts and ends at our hotel in Shrewsbury. We leave you to make your own travel arrangements to and from Shrewsbury to suit your own convenience and use of alternative departure points.

Travel during the tour will be by luxury, air-conditioned coach.

After the Thursday morning visit the coach will drop off at Shrewsbury Station by 14:00 and then the Hotel.


The cost of this tour is £590 per person sharing, with a discount of £46 per person for National Trust members (NT membership cards must be carried with you). Unusually, we have been able to make arrangements with the hotel so that there is no single supplement for this tour.

In organising these very specialist and unique, small group, tours we do not enjoy the same economies of scale which are available to us for our larger group tours. Nevertheless we believe that the cost represents excellent value for money and compares very favourably with other specialist operators.

This includes:
  • An itinerary packed with visits to fascinating sites
  • 3 nights dinner, bed & breakfast
  • Luxury air conditioned coach transport to all sites and driver tip
  • All entrance fees (amounting to about £80)
  • Expert guiding and services of a tour manager throughout
  • Research for the visit
  • Professionally produced, comprehensive tour notes
Excluded are:
  • Lunches
  • Drinks
  • Expenses at the hotels other than dinner, bed & breakfast
All costs are in Pounds Sterling (GBP) and are based on present accommodation, transport costs and taxes. Any change in these may necessitate a price change.


Please note that cancellation charges will apply from 27th February 2017, and, although these will be modified to the extent that costs are not actually incurred, you are strongly advised to insure against the need to cancel.

Non-UK residents also need to consider medical treatment and repatriation charges in the event of illness etc. Participants who do not have travel insurance must nevertheless accept full responsibility for these eventualities.

UK residents who do not already have travel insurance may like to contact Avanti Travel Insurance, who specialise in providing cover for older travellers and those with medical conditions, both single-trip and annual policies, quoting reference “Heritage of Industry” for a competitive quote.

Website:  Email:  Phone: 0800 888 6195


Bookings will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to space availability. Booking is subject to a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 people . Book as soon as possible and by 27th February 2017 to ensure a place but please feel free to enquire after that date if a place is still available. We will contact you as soon as possible to confirm the booking and to issue an invoice for the balance of the price.

A non-refundable deposit of £55 per person is required on booking. Bookings can be made definite only when the booking details and deposit are received and accepted in writing/email by Heritage of Industry Ltd. The company's standard terms and conditions apply. The balance of the price is to be paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd on presentation of the invoice. All monies paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd will be held, in accordance with government regulations**, in a customer protection account until the tour is complete so that your money is safe no matter what happens.

If you wish to take advantage of our special offer of a copy of Marilyn and Ian's book "Technology in the Country House" tick the box on the booking form and include the additional cost of £30.00 with the deposit.

Books will be dispatched as soon as they are available - this should be in early September depending on the delivery time from the publisher. Note that if for any reason we are unable to run the tour then your deposit will be returned to you as normal but you may keep your copy of the book.

Payment should be made via electronic banking but sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank are also acceptable.

Booking is closed for this tour

Enquiries about this tour should be directed to:

Bill Barksfield
Managing Director
Heritage of Industry Ltd, The Gables, 20 Main Road, East Hagbourne, Oxon OX11 9LN UK
Tel: +44 1235 352275  (9am - 5.30pm GMT)

** The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (SI 1992 No. 3288)