Wednesday 14 August 2019

Family Days Out - Centre For Alternative Technology

Yesterday we made a trip to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology. 

Testing out the solar panels and seeing how much difference some "clouds" could make. 
It's been somewhere I've want to visit for a long time now and I thought it would make a great day out for the family. We weren't disappointed. 

This is a very picture heavy post so be warned! 

Getting on to site with a water weight powered cable car. 
 The site is kind of a rambling maze of buildings, shelters and gardens set in a secluded valley.

Lots of small gardens to see organic growing practices. 

A model house where you could switch on different things and see how much power it used. 

I think this one must have escaped from my garden! 

There was an activity running on the day we went to make our own bug hotels. The kids loved doing this and it let them be creative for a while. 

A great playground for the kids!

I thought this was such a great idea for herbs. I now wonder where I could add this in my won garden. 

Plenty of solar where we ate our packed lunch!

A beautiful polytunnel set with some amazing plants.

Watch out for the giant mole! 

Small forest garden area. The kids loved spotting the wineberries! 

Kind of north light open shed. I liked this but the top over hang had started to rot in places.

Green wood work area

This gave a real sense of scale to the wind farms we've seen.

Pedal power to power a light bulb

Playing with stored power, wind it up and see ti power something smaller.

Love this fencing

Make your own waves to create electric. The kids loved this one! 

Loved this - seeing the difference colour made, then insulation behind then glass on top. 20 degrees temperature from one to the other. 

Homemade solar - a radiator painted black behind a glass sheet. 

This cottage was on George Clarks amazing homes, built in 24 hrs to get over common rights. 
I was very excited about this place, in some ways it lived up to my expectations and in others it fell short. 

Back in the 70's this was cutting edge, trying new things that now seem normal. Like super insulated homes, solar and wind power, different building methods. But now many of these things seem fairly normal and not so cutting edge. If the people here hadn't done these things in the past then I very much doubt that they would be in such heavy use today. 

One thing I had expected to see was what they were working on now, rather than what they had done in the past. I wanted to see experimental new technologies but instead saw exhibits of what is currently available. I guess because I'm quite into this type of thing anyway I wasn't amazed by what I saw. I wonder if in their workshops and classroom they have the things they're working on, that's what I'd love to see there. 

That said it was an amazing day out for the family. Fairly priced (I think it was £25 for the five of us) with lots to see and do. Not a single point did the children moan about being bored, in fact they didn't really want to leave and for somewhere that is so information heavy that's a real success. 

Some of the exhibits were a bit old and tired, with some that were a little dated (quotes from Noel Edmunds on wind farms anyone?). As you looked around you could see some buildings with rotten roofs and crumbling walls, but then that's also good to see how these different concepts were holding up and if they'd need more care than more common building methods. 

The setting and location were amazing as well. Set in a Welsh valley it was completely secluded, with an incredible walk up around the old slate mines and up to a reservoir. The views on the walk were incredible, and made a perfect end to a really nice day out. 

It was great day out and one I'd recommend to anyone in the area. Plenty for kids and adults to do alike, I just hope money keeps getting invested so it stays up to date. 


  1. It looks great fun with the added bonus of introducing children etc to energy. Learning to value things from a young age is brilliant.

  2. We used to go there often and loved it, but the last time we went it was looking very run down and tatty with polytunnel full of weeds. It looks to have lots of new things as well as all the old. The bookshop was good back then - before Amazon

  3. We went there years ago and really enjoyed it. Lots of new things now.

  4. We went some years ago and enjoyed it. It was looking a bit scruffy then and I hoped as the ideas became more mainstream it would get more funding.

    Have you visited the Ironbridge Gorge Museums? Your children would love them. A passport to all of them is pricey but you have a year to go back as many times as you like. They were all child friendly but my children especially loved Enginuity, the science and technology museum- buttons, levers, water!- and our favourite is Blists Hill, the Victorian town. We've been to a few living history sites and this is still their favourite. Lots of re-enactors and you get to change your money to Victorian money at the bank to buy sweets (sorry!) or moulds to paint in the plaster shop. There are other shops too but they're the ones they remember.

  5. I feel very ashamed that we have not yet visited CAT when Machynlleth is only an hour or so away from us. Looks like you had a great day.

  6. Yes, we took our kids there a few times in the 70’s and 80’s and we felt the same as you; some things were current even then, while some were completely new ideas (the 70’s was quite a Back to Nature decade so there was a fair of info available then.) We revisited, just the two of us, about a decade ago and felt it was looking a bit tired and there wasn’t really anything we didn’t know about. Maybe we are just better informed now. But totally agree that it has always been very reasonably priced, a good day out especially for families and there was plenty to keep everyone interested and engaged.
    Having lived in Shropshire for many years, totally agree with Hazel about Ironbridge Gorge. Not at all cheap but with 7 (or is it 8?) museums available to visit, you do get your money’s worth over a year. And yes, Enginuity tops my my list too, of all the museums! Your kids would love it!

  7. We visited CAT about 20 years ago and don't recognise much of what is in your photos. Maybe it is time to visit again... We went with our son who was about 14 at the time and it was a really wet day - but it was so interesting that none of us really noticed the rain until we got back into the car and realised how wet our clothes were that we would have to sit in all the way home : )


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...