History museum including replica cottages and steam engines planned for Kidwelly
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Replica cottages from days gone by, open-air theatre space and a museum featuring a Sherman tank and steam engines could be coming to Kidwelly.
The town council has applied for planning permission for the History Shed Experience, which is having to move from its base in Laugharne, to create a new landscaped visitor attraction on land beyond Glan-Yr-Afon car park, off Bridge Street.
Other museum exhibits would include an armoured car, Harley-Davidson motorbike, a replica First World War trench, 20 to 30 mannequins in period costume, and stories of emigration to America.
A pole-barn area would feature live events and potentially a weekly market.
The single-storey replica cottages would have different themes, including one depicting life for Welsh settlers in America in the 1890s. Toilets would also be provided.
Town council estates manager Mark Stephens said the History Shed Experience team got in touch because of its close connections with the town.
“We looked at different proposals and we narrowed it down to this site,” said Mr Stephens.
“It’s on the outskirts of the town, the car park is next to it, and it’s a stone’s throw from the castle.” He added that the land, which is used by walkers, was a rubbish dump many years ago.
Two public meetings were held, in 2019 and 2020. A planning document submitted as part of the application to Carmarthenshire Council said the 3,000sq m proposal was well received overall.
It added that there were a few environmental and visual impact concerns. In response the design team decreased the museum building’s profile and moved it to the rear of the site where it would be screened from direct view.
The planning statement said the History Shed Experience – a community interest company – would consider medieval displays in the museum and that it was keen to work with community groups.
It was also hopeful of attracting productions companies to film there, as has happened in Laugharne, and has discussed setting up an on-site nature observation project.
Mr Stephens said the town council would have to agree a lease with the group, should planning permission be granted.
He said that “to a person,” town councillors supported the proposal. More than 150 people have contacted the planning department to voice their support for the development.
Mr Stephens said there were one or two objections. He felt the scheme’s visual impact would quite minimal.
Kidwelly resident Julie Bezant commented on the application, saying: “There has been some understandable opposition to these plans by those concerned by its proximity to the nature reserve.
“However, most people who have studied the plans are reassured that not only will the ecology of the site be preserved but the area will be enhanced by the steps being proposed.
“Many Kidwelly inhabitants remember it wasn’t too long ago that this site was literally a dump.
“Most people I have spoken to are desperately keen for this development to take place, recognising the huge benefits that it will bring to town.
“I think the town will be devastated if the History Shed has to go somewhere else.”
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