£1m set to be invested into turning Cyfarthfa Castle and ironworks into international quality museum
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
More than £1m of Welsh Government funding for the Cyfarthfa heritage project in Merthyr Tydfil is set to be approved.
The focus of the plan is the Cyfarthfa Heritage Area, including Cyfarthfa Castle, Cyfarthfa Park and the furnaces and surrounding area to the west of the river Taff.
Cyfarthfa ironworks was for the time the largest in the world but despite being a scheduled ancient monument of world importance the blast furnaces currently sit neglected on the banks of the Taff.
The council’s cabinet is being asked to approve the funding for The Crucible project at its meeting on Wednesday, May 19.
It will go towards the masterplan to help turn Merthyr Tydfil’s Cyfarthfa heritage area into an industrial heritage centre of international significance known as ‘The Cyfarthfa Plan’.
The Cyfarthfa Plan was approved by full council in November 2020 and will see Cyfarthfa Castle turned into an international quality museum set in an expanded 100-hectare public park.
In March 2021, following discussions with The Cyfarthfa Foundation, Welsh Government approved £1.28m of development funding for the project.
The funding was to establish a team to support development and delivery of The Cyfarthfa Plan, to put the necessary policies, structures and mechanisms in place to oversee any work and to undertake any appropriate studies.
The offer letter was issued to Merthyr Tydfil Council as the grant recipient body.
An offer letter will be issued to The Cyfarthfa Foundation following approval of the award by cabinet and the council will have responsibility for the allocation to and monitoring of funding undertaken by The Cyfarthfa Foundation.
The funding will be available for three years and a condition of the grant is that a “board” is set up for monitoring the delivery of The Cyfarthfa Plan and Welsh Government officials will be invited to sit on this board.
The board will be aligned to the Welsh Government’s Valleys Regional Park Programme.
Previous funding of £80,000 had been awarded in June 2020 towards the delivery of the Crucible project.
The purpose of this funding was to create the necessary foundation of knowledge on which to base the development of a visitor attraction of international quality at Cyfarthfa, the report to cabinet said.
The Crucible Working Group (made up of Merthyr Tydfil Council Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust and The Cyfarthfa Foundation) were to carry out a study of all relevant archives to assess what contribution information and materials held in them could make to the proposed visitor attraction.
Sources include Glamorgan Archives, local libraries, Cyfarthfa Museum, National Museum Wales and National Library of Wales.
The funding was available to appoint consultants to review the archives and to deliver additional schemes supporting education and research.
The funding was available until March 31, 2021, but due to Covid-19 restrictions the appointed consultant was unable to travel and could not access the relevant archives which they needed for the commission.
Discussions were then held with Welsh Government regarding a possible extension to June 2021.