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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Community centre in ancient tents
Simon and Sarah Greaves
Simon and Sarah Greaves from inside one of the community's yurts
It is likely that the leader of the Mongol empire Genghis Khan plotted the downfall of his enemies in his yurt once.

But he probably never thought of holding a bring-and-buy sale in one.

The centuries-old type of tent, still common among nomads across central Asia, is now being used in a Welsh border village as their new community centre.

Residents of Bron-y-Garth, who were without any community facilities, even a church, have spent seven months building three yurts for use as meeting places.

Villagers even invited the Mongolian Ambassador to help celebrate the opening of the huge tents.

I wrote to the ambassador to invite him because we wanted to thank his country after we'd learned so much about his culture while building our yurts
Simon Greaves, resident of Bronygarth
His Excellency Dalrain Davaasambuu was one of more than 150 who gathered to pay tribute to the remarkable community achievement on Saturday.

Mr Davaasambuu brought with him some Mongolian vodka and a blue silk scarf which a village elder or father hangs over the dome of a new yurt in Mongolia.

"It was a very touching moment when His Excellency gave us the blue scarf and the vodka and we all waved him off when he left in his limo three hours later," said Simon Greaves, who had the idea of building yurts for the community.

"He was a charming and delightful and we were pleased he visited us.

Courtesy of the Centre for Alternative Technology
A traditional yurt in Mongolia

"I wrote to the ambassador to invite him because we wanted to thank his country after we'd learned so much about his culture while building our yurts."


The yurts are multi-purpose and events booked already include an 'alternative' Glastonbury Festival and a wedding reception.

Built from three Ash trees by more than 100 residents from Bron-y-Garth, aged between eight and 80, the material covering the structures was supplied by Per Lindstrand's balloon company in Oswestry, Shropshire.

They cost 5,000, but the community received a 4,000 grant from the Countryside Agency and funding from charities and businesses.

"I had the idea to build the yurts after my son returned home after spending time at a school activity course," said Mr Greaves.

"We set about building our 16ft yurt and then the community became involved and we built two more - one 24ft and another 20ft.

"We received help from local craftsman Stuart Wisehead and we must have spent 1,000 hours between December and June on the project.

"Yurts are normally covered in white material, but we asked Lindstrand's to provide us with colourful covers.

"We're not too sure what else we can use our yurts for, but they can be taken down and erected in a short space of time and we may hold things like bring-and-buy sales in them."

On 19 June, the community - which borders onto Wrexham borough - held its summer party and the largest yurt managed to squeeze in 100 people.

The smaller structure held the beer tent while the remaining yurt was used as a seating area.

Meanwhile, an environmental centre in mid Wales has produced a step-by-step factsheet for a DIY Mongolian yurt.

The Centre for Alternative Technology, in Machynlleth, says the nomads' tents are made from coppiced wood and felt and are suitable for temporary or permanent living and recreation.

Mongolia's cult of the great Khan
12 Aug 03  |  From Our Own Correspondent
The hunt for Genghis Khan
27 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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