Powys Digital History Project

Upper Swansea Valley
Craig-y-nos Castle 9
by Len Ley

Running a great House
The presence of this rich and famous personality affected the community in many ways and has been touched upon elsewhere. Probably of the most benefit to ordinary people was the amount of employment she created. At one time, seventy house servants and outside staff were engaged at the castle, then a main source of income for a small community living several miles from the collieries and iron works in the lower part of the valley.
The cost of running Craig-y-nos can be gauged from the forty tons of coal supplied each month, most of which was used for domestic heating and horticulture, fluctuating according to season.

From the
Ordnance Survey
1st edition 6" map
circa 1887
showing the newly
landscaped grounds
extending across
the River Tawe

County Archives

Craig-y-nos was the first private house to be wired for electricity, and evidence of this was found some years ago by Mr J. A. Lea, the last Hospital Secretary, and someone from an electrical company engaged in relevant research. Power at 110volts [dc] was generated by an ‘Otto’ gas engine which was fuelled from a small gas works situated in the grounds. (see map)
The wiring consisted of planks with two parallel grooves that took a bare copper wire and covered with a corresponding piece of wood. This supplied power for ‘Swan’ lamps and an electrically powered ‘Orchestra’ organ which was controlled by a punched paper roll and situated in the Billiard Room. It was the pride and joy of Nicholini, thus dating it prior to his death in 1898.

The Diva remained at the castle during the twilight years of her life and music remained her first love. She would practice her scales daily, sometimes accompanied by her three parrots, one of which was eighty years old.

Grand pianos graced many of the rooms, including the master bedroom and the theatre. Opera scores and manuscripts were to be found everywhere and Adelina would often have one with her when discussing domestic matters Sometimes she would misplace it and a servant would retrace the Diva’s steps until it was found. 

  There are 10 pages on Craig-y-nos. Use the box links below to view the other pages.