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Plan to turn crucible of industrial revolution into ‘international quality’ museum gets funding boost

20 Mar 2021 3 minutes Read
The Cyfarthfa ironworks, Merthyr Tydfil, during the Industrial Revolution.

Merthyr Tydfil’s Cyfarthfa Castle and ironworks, the crucible of a global industrial revolution in the first half of the 19th century, is to be turned into an “international quality” museum.

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.

A plan to turn the grounds into a 100-hectare public park has now moved a step closer thanks to an additional £1.2m funding boost from the Welsh Government.

The 20 year Cyfarthfa Plan, commissioned by Merthyr Council, is the result of 12-month’s work by a multi-disciplinary team led by Ian Ritchie Architects.

The project will be driven forward via a new charitable foundation – The Cyfarthfa Foundation – in collaboration with Merthyr Tydfil Council, the Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust and the Valleys Regional Park.

Geraint Talfan Davies, Chair of The Cyfarthfa Foundation, said: “This funding is a hugely welcome step forward for a project that can be truly transformative both for the local community and for Wales as a whole.

“The Foundation is determined to create something of international quality that will celebrate an industrial heritage of world importance, enhance the natural environment and act as an engine of social and cultural renewal.

“The ready support of the Welsh Government is an indication of the project’s immense potential.”

‘Boldness’

This additional stimulus will allow the project to progress through:

  • Initiating “urgent repairs” to the historical assets of Cyfarthfa in line with all appropriate local authority, Cadw and Welsh Government policies and procedures.
  • Continuing historic archive studies to assess what contribution information and materials held in them could make to presentation and interpretation of the proposed visitor attraction.
  • Engaging with the community to ensure the site builds on the renewed focus on utilising green spaces and community venues to support healthy lifestyles.

Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport and Chair of the Valleys Taskforce, said: “This project has the potential to be an attraction of international importance, which also brings real benefits to the local community.

“I applaud the boldness of the Cyfarthfa Foundation which has been unapologetic about its ambition and its determination to create a flagship attraction which celebrates Merthyr Tydfil’s global importance in the story of how we have all developed.

“This investment should be a great legacy of the Valleys taskforce project and will play an important role in the ongoing development of the Valleys Regional Park as a catalyst for change”.

An artists’ impression of the Cyfarthfa furnaces

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said: “Visit Wales’ ambition is to grow tourism for the good of Wales. This means economic growth that delivers benefits for people and places, including environmental sustainability, social and cultural enrichment and health benefits.

“This outstanding vision will both celebrate and heal the natural and post-industrial environment to provide a beautiful setting for recreation, harnessing the potential for tourism to improve the wider economic wellbeing of Merthyr and the wider Valleys region.”

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