Buried rail tracks to be lit up as part of historic ironworks improvements
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
Works to improve the visitor experience and preserve Blaenavon Ironworks have been given the green light by Torfaen council.
The Welsh Government’s historic environment service, Cadw, which works to protect the ironworks, has been granted planning permission to carry out a series of improvements and resurfacing work to the lower section of the site.
The proposals also include works to preserve buried iron rail tracks from further deterioration and to make them visible.
This will be achieved by carrying out excavations and resetting the rail tracks so that they are more visible.
LED lights will also be used to illuminate the rail tracks, as well as for the iconic balance tower which was used to lift wagons.
Projection lighting will also be used on the balance tower to allow a wide range of effects which can be used to support events at the site, according to a design and access statement.
Welsh iron from the site was used to fashioned trailblazing engines, tools and machines, as well as to built bridges, ships and railway lines across the world. The ironworks, built in 1789, is within the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, a World Heritage Site.
The plans were put forward in response to concerns about the site being difficult to access for people with wheelchairs and prams, rail tracks not being properly interpreted as part of the industrial story, and drainage issues.
As part of the plans, the site’s car park will be resurfaced and reintroduced into the main part of the ironworks by removing a wire fence.
‘Outdoor community events’
It is planned that the space could be leased for outdoor community events such as markets, theatrical and music performances and food and drink events.
The wire fencing will be replaced with bollards which can be temporarily removed to increase the size of an outdoor events space.
Parking spaces will be provided in a location away from the heritage setting, but within an “acceptable distance” to the visitor centre, according to a design and access statement.
The plans also include installing new interpretation panels at the ironworks and an electric vehicle charging point at the site, as well as works to improve drainage.
A decision notice granting planning permission was issued by Torfaen council last Wednesday, December 22.
A planning report recommending approval said: “The scheme proposes a range of relatively minor works which would improve both the visitor interpretation of the site and surfacing in the lower section of the site.”