Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 14:46 UK

Straw cottage man sees the light

By Nick Parry
BBC News

Hubert Hilling
Hubert Hilling said a big difference was having light at the flick of a switch

A 60-year-old man has seen the light and had electricity installed at his 300-year-old mud and straw house.

For the past 50 years Hubert Hilling has done without all mod cons including a television, washing machine, fridge or even a toaster.

But after a faulty gas light almost set fire to his cottage near Kilgetty in Pembrokeshire he was persuaded to connect his house to the mains.

He has used an electric iron for the first time and bought a food mixer.

But the tour guide said he had no plans to have a television although he was considering buying a computer.

Hubert Hilling finally gets electricity in the 300-year-old mud and straw house he has lived in for the last 50 years.

He has lived in the remote clom cottage (a mud constructed building) which is accessed by a half-mile long stone track, for more than 50 years and his parents and grandparents lived there before him.

"I have lived 50 years without electricity," he said.

"I was not interested in having electricity at all - what you have not had you don't miss.

"You cooked with my Calor gas cooker and then to clean you would go on your hands and knees with your dustpan and brush."

His house was lit with lights powered by bottled gas but when a fitting broke, scorching the kitchen wall, he could not find a replacement.

Mr Hilling's cottage
An old house like this - with all the roof being straw - it would have soon gone up
Hubert Hilling

"I was warned it was dangerous - when you were turning the gas on you could see the gas escaping.

"An old house like this - with all the roof being straw - it would have soon gone up."

After spending over 5,000 to have the house wired and connected to the mains he said the biggest difference was to have light at the flick of a switch.

"It was so great to come home and turn the lights I could not speak - I was completely speechless."

But as for surround sound televisions, a music centre or dishwasher - high street retailers should not get too excited yet.

"You can't very well do that with an old place like this can you?

"I have got a toaster and an iron, which I was given, and I have bought an electric mixer.

"There are no plans for television but there could be for a computer sometime," he added.

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