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Plans revealed for further development of historic industrial site

15 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Engine houses at the former Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site, Swansea. Photo by Friends of Friends of Hafod Morfa Copperworks and supplied by Swansea Council

Richard Youle,local democracy reporter

A new restaurant, cafe, cycle path and water activities are included in plans to redevelop an historic industrial site, which dates back to 1810.

The former Hafod-Morfa Copperworks by Swansea’s River Tawe, occupies a 12-acre site which borders the Tawe not far from the Stadium.

The Hafod works was founded in 1810 and during the 19th century became the largest copper works in the world, employing over 1,000 people.

The rival Morfa works was established in 1835 and the two adjacent sites combined in 1924 under the ownership of  Yorkshire Imperial Metals.

The site has already seen Welsh whisky company Penderyn Distillery open a new distillery and visitor centre at the copperworks’ revamped powerhouse building, and a new river pontoon has been installed.

The first of three river pontoons on the River Tawe, Swansea. Photo supplied by Swansea Council and free for use for all BBC wire partners)

A Swansea council committee has also been told that restoration work on the former laboratory building was due to get under way around September time, and that a voluntary group was starting walking tours of the area – where vast amounts of copper were once smelted.

Council officer Paul Relf said the laboratory could potentially become a “high-end restaurant” and that a nearby engine house could lend itself to cafe use. There had already been informal interest, he said, in a restaurant.

Referring to the wider copperworks, he said: “What mix of uses there are is, to an extent, open to the market.”

Skyline leisure attraction

Another piece of the puzzle is the Skyline leisure attraction planned across the Tawe on Kilvey Hill, as visitors would board gondolas from the copperworks site and be taken to the top of the 650ft hill. The scheme hasn’t had the go-ahead yet.

Mr Relf told the economy and infrastructure service transformation committee it was probable that a new multi-storey car park “in the vicinity” would be looked at, and that a public consultation on evolving plans for the land would take place in the coming months.

The council received £20 million Levelling Up Fund money from the UK Government last year to take forward its Hafod-Morfa Copperworks plans and also add exhibition space at Swansea Museum and revitalise arches and tunnels in and around The Strand. One of the copperworks buildings – a former rolling mill – is home to what Mr Relf described as a “treasure trove” of artefacts which the museum doesn’t have space for.

Referring to the river, Mr Relf said he hoped that two more pontoons would be installed by the middle of next year. The emphasis, he added, was on community boat and rowing club use rather than commercial activities like paddling-boarding, kayaking and river taxis at this stage.

‘Quite luscious’

Mr Relf described the riverside as “quite luscious” and very different to what it was in the past. “You could be in mid-Wales,” he said.

Cllr Wendy Lewis said she was excited about the riverside’s redevelopment. “We are a sea-faring city and we need to use our river,” she said.

Committee chairman, Cllr Philip Downing, said: “This is a very, very exciting part of Swansea for tourism which we identified many years ago.” Parking considerations were important, he said, especially if the Skyline attraction was given planning permission.

Councillors were also told that a shared-use path for cyclists and walkers was planned on the Tawe’s west bank from White Rock Bridge, by the old copperworks, to a point just past the council’s Pipehouse Wharf depot where it would join an existing path into the city centre. Hundreds of students now live along that section in purpose-built accommodation blocks.

A consultation about the shared-use path, which has been proposed for years, is being carried out by the council and closes on May 6. A diagram published as part of the consultation shows a middle part of the path as an elevated boardwalk. Mr Relf described this stretch, at the rear of Swansea Industrial Components, as “a pinch-point”.

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Nigel Bradshaw
Nigel Bradshaw
1 month ago

Fix all the potholes before wasting money on attracting tourists. Swanseas roads are in the worst state I’ve ever seen.

Sam Wise
Sam Wise
1 month ago

Nice idea but really need to sort out high Street by the train station it’s like a ghetto, tourists are going to want to hop back on the train and not want to visit these sites. Its embarrassing

Last edited 1 month ago by Sam Wise

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