It's been an army drill hall, a cinema, a theatre, a supermarket and even a sledging hill for local kids.

But after over two hundred years being pressed into a variety of uses the Old Drill Hall, Rhayader is set for a new lease of life as an arts and performance venue.

It was two retired teachers who spotted the potential of the old building, which they say is an integral part of the 'social fabric of Rhayader', but Paul and Glenda Carter admitted the old building was looking a bit sorry for itself when it came up for auction in late 2013.

"We bought the site in 2014 but it took us at least a year to get through planning," says Glenda.

"We weren't planning on making huge changes to the fabric of the building, but due to the industrial nature of the old site we had to get a full environmental report for the planning officers and all sorts of other things.

"Fortunately we have received phenomenal support from both our MP Chris Davies and the town council, and we even have Kirsty Williams coming to have a look over the next few months.

"It was in a bit of a state. There was significant damage from a previous fire in the building and the roof, which sloped right to the ground, had been most recently used by the local kids for sledging when it snowed!"

Snow is on the ground on a chilly January afternoon when we visit too and the building, which focuses on the sizeable performance space at one end and deep in mid-renovation inside it's imposing stone walls, is cold.

The final hurdle of planning permission is on the cusp of being cleared for the water source heat pump which will draw heat from a tributary to the nearby Wye, but it hasn't gone in yet and the building shivers in the late afternoon gloom.

"It will be nice when we don't have to give out blankets ahead of performances, definitely! It's actually not too bad once we have a crowd in and we have a huge space heater which helps, but it eats up the gas a bit."

But nearly four years of hard work are finally starting to pay dividends as the site opens for it's first concerts and events.

The building has been extensively refurbished with the old tin roof replaced completely and the internal fittings completely gutted, the work being project managed by son Lennard. A strong environmental approach to the renovation means insulation is sheep's wool rather than fibreglass and the renders are of the lime variety, rather than traditional concrete. Traditional features, such as the old workings for the water mill which once powered a tannery at the site, have been carefully preserved during the renovation.

And now the couple are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel as the venue opens for it's first gigs and the creation of a cafe and pizzeria nears completion, thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Aviva Community Fund.

"I'd like us to get to the point where the cafe is open six days a week and we'd like to see tourists coming to the area who are attracted by our live music events," adds Glenda. "There's certainly an appetite for a live music venue in the area and people knowing that perhaps they don't have to go to Cardiff or Birmingham to see live music when it's right here on their doorstep."