Historic railway building brought back to life
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A slice of Llanelli’s industrial past has been brought back to life with the reopening of part of the town’s railway goods shed.
The building dates from 1875 and played an important role in the town until its closure in 1966, although offices in the attached block were used subsequently by Network Rail.
Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust, which was set up in 2011 in a bid to restore the grade-two listing building, has completed a £850,000 revamp of the office block to create space for public, private and third sector tenants.
First Minister Mark Drakeford formally opened the refurbished office block, having revealed that Llanelli train station had a special place in his own family history.
“If it was not for Llanelli train station I would not be here,” he said. “It was where my father proposed to my mother.”
Mr Drakeford also joked that those around him were safe, in reference to his very public outburst in the Senedd this week. “I’m quite calm today,” he said.
He went on to congratulate everyone involved in “this fantastic scheme”, acknowledging the efforts that had gone into raising funds. He said there was huge potential inside and outside the Marsh Street building.
Some of the office space is to be taken up by a dedicated team serving the Tyisha ward in which the building is located.
The trust has considered various options for the main goods shed area itself, which will be phase two of the project. Trust secretary Richard Roper told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it lent itself to a theatre space.
The aim is to retain the striking beams, while a covered area for outdoor events is also being explored. Cycle proficiency training could also take place outside, among other activities.
“All these things are being looked at,” said ex-Network Rail employee Mr Roper. “Whatever we do has to be sustainable.”
He said it had been a long process to get phase one over the line. “You have ups and downs but you have to stick with it,” he said. “This is one of the last industrial buildings in Llanelli.”
The trust, which is chaired by Llanelli MP Dame Nia Griffith, has received funding from the Railway Heritage Trust, Welsh Government, Cadw, Garfield Weston Foundation and Pilgrim Trust. Grants have also come from the National Lottery, Architectural Heritage Fund, Llanelli Town Council, Welsh Water and Carmarthenshire Council, among others.
A booklet has also been published, with help from local schools, based on life in and around the goods shed and exploring themes of coal, railways, iron and steel, tinplate, copper and docks and shipping.
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