Some of the most important books in Welsh history are held in a 16th century farmhouse in Wales.
In amongst the collection held in the Snowdonia wilderness is one of the most important books in Welsh history: one of the last remaining copies of the first Bible to be translated into Welsh by Bishop William Morgan in 1588.
Unfortunately the great collection of over 200 Bibles in his birthplace of Ty Mawr Wybrnant, is under threat from incessant damp.
According to climate change advisor, Keith Jones, an innovative hydropower scheme from a nearby stream is helping heat and dry out the old building, controlling humidity levels and protecting the rare and ancient books.
“The rain is the problem but is now providing the solution.”
Earlier this year, the stream burst its banks which led to some of the worst flooding any of the residents could remember. Ground-floor rooms at Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant were at major risk of flood damage, and although the Morgan Bible is kept in a special cabinet on the first floor, the extra moisture made all the books vulnerable to damage.
The National Trust, which manages the building near Betws-y-Coed, has since installed a pico hydropower scheme, using a stream to run heating systems and keep humidity levels in check.
Keith Jones said: “That extra moisture meant we needed to use more heating to ensure the humidity levels didn’t get too high.
“Climate predictions indicate likely increases in the severity and frequency of rainfall in the area. This small-scale technology is allowing us to adapt to future changes more sustainably.
“We are generating the electricity when we most need it, when there’s more moisture in the air after rainfall. The energy is consumed directly onsite, solely for the conservation of this priceless Bible collection.
“At Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant, water is actually helping us solve a problem it’s creating in the first place, so there’s some kind of poetic justice there. We’ll be exploring how this principle could be used where other collections may be similarly at risk.”
Tim Pye, the National Trust’s libraries curator explained the importance of preserving the books: “The Bible at Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant is a hugely important part not only of the property’s story but of the history of the Welsh language.
“William Morgan’s translation of the Bible, primarily from Hebrew and Greek, helped standardise the Welsh language and is considered to be the single most significant step in ensuring the survival of that language today.”