History of CAT

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Installing the first water turbine at CAT

Founded in 1973 on the disused slate quarry Llwyngwern, the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) has come along ways since our humble beginnings.

Now as you wander around the green buildings, organic gardens and woodlands it’s hard to picture that 50 years ago most of the site was a pile of rubble from the slate quarry.

CAT in the early days

What came before

Grab a guidebook or read the displays around the site to learn about the history of Llwyngwern quarry and about what things were like here before CAT was founded.

Quarry Trail

On dry days this is well worth a visit. Aside from being able to wander through beautiful woodlands you’ll also get to see the remains of what was once here, as you’ll see buildings, the remains of machinery, not to mention the quarry itself.

Read more about the quarry trail

Voices from a disused quarry

Originally set up as an intentional community, in this exhibit you’ll be able to see how far CAT has come and learn about the challenges that early volunteers and community members faced.

Showcasing a Vision of a Sustainable Future

Since the early days CAT aimed to not just show the environmental issues but to focus on bringing together, testing and showcasing new technologies, energy solutions and ‘green’ building techniques.

The visitor centre was first established in 1975 and allowed CAT to show more and more people our vision for a more sustainable future. For many, visiting CAT would have been the first time they’d seen ‘alternative technology’ such as wind turbines and photovoltaic solar panels in action, and it gave CAT a broader platform as we sought to show that a sustainable society is possible.

cretan windmill
Early experiment with generating electricity with the wind using a cretan windmill

CAT also spread this message to the government when, in 1977, we put together An Alternative Energy Strategy for the UK and delivered it to Tony Benn’s Ministry of Energy.

Education

Since the early days CAT has worked with schools, school groups and visitors, providing education on a wide array of topics related to sustainability. But in recent years education has become more of a focus, rather than experimenting with and testing new alternative technologies.

interactive hydroelectrical display
Hydro display

In part this reflected where we are as a society. The technologies to tackle climate change exist; the issue is that we haven’t collectively made the changes we need to.

The Future

CAT’s vision is for a world where we all tread lightly on the planet.

To help our society become more sustainable we aim to inspire, inform people through our visitors centre and short courses, graduate school to enable and equip people with the skills, knowledge and understanding to bring about the changes needed.

A better future is possible, but we’ll all need to help create it.

wind turbines in the sunset