Centre for Alternative Technology

Britain's major centre for environmental inspiration and courses.


How CAT started


The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) was founded in 1973 on the site of the disused Llwyngwern slate quarry near Machynlleth, in Mid Wales.

When founder Gerard Morgan-Grenville started the organisation, he conceived "a project to show the nature of the problem and show ways of going forward." It was originally a community dedicated to eco-friendly principles and a 'test bed' for new ideas and technologies - the Visitor Centre was a later addition.

In the beginning, progress in the quarry was slow, and the early attempts to raise money were frustrating. Volunteers worked long hours, often by candlelight - there was no electricity on the site at that time.

Liz Todd, one of the early volunteers, remembers shrews running across the table during mealtimes and eating from plates. An old engine shed with a leaking roof was the only habitable building on site at that time.

Slowly, increasing numbers of interested people came to CAT, and many stayed as volunteers. As more workers arrived, they brought a wide range of skills and experience.

In 1974, The Duke of Edinburgh visited CAT. After his visit, some members of staff suggested turning part of the site into a Visitor Centre, a permanent exhibition to explain CAT's work and generate interest in alternative technology. It opened to the public in 1975.

Since then, CAT has grown to become Europe's leading eco-centre, receiving tens of thousands of visitors every year, who come to learn about our work.  We also host schools visits, run short courses and postgraduate degrees and continue to research new approaches to environmental challenges through our flagship Zero Carbon Britain project.

The Centre is constantly changing and adapting. We continue to produce exciting new projects, schemes and ideas, building on over three decades of knowledge and experience.

As an educational charity, CAT relies on the support of people who care about our world and are keen to help find practical, positive solutions to urgent environmental challenges.  If you would like to become part of this movement for change, please join CAT today or make a donation.  Many thanks.