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Plans to turn listed Victorian iron works into hotel and restaurant

11 May 2021 4 minute read
Tondu enginehouse exterior. Paul Fosh Auctions

Hannah Neary, local democracy reporter

A businessman wants to turn a former Victorian iron works and engine house into a hotel and restaurant.

Property owner Andy Mills-Brown hopes to transform Tondu Ironworks, near Bridgend, by adding an external terrace, takeaway food kiosk, and outdoor canopies.

Mills-Brown, said the development is a “passion project” and he “fell in love” with the site when he first visited it.

“It’s just the most spectacular, beautiful building,” he added. “This could be really lovely for the community.”

He is seeking listed building consent from Bridgend County Borough Council to renovate the four-storey Grade II listed property and hopes it will become a popular venue for tourists and locals to eat, drink and stay.

The plans inclue “a nice, down to earth brasserie downstairs” and a more “up-weigthed dining option on the first floor”.

Architect drawing of restaurant planned for Tondu Ironworks [copyright: Andy Mills-Brown, credits: Faber Design & Architecture
The building dates back to 1838 when it housed steam-powered blowing engines, which supplied air to blast furnaces on the site. It was most recently used as office space after being renovated in the early 2000s.

The proposed development site already includes a private driveway, car park and park grounds. The iron works lies adjacent to a blast furnace with original
coke ovens, which were used to produce lumps of carbon from heated coal.

Mills-Brown has a background in the holiday, leisure and entertainment industries.

“There’s definitely opportunity and scope for some real family-led leisure and entertainment activity,” he said.

Subject to planning approval, a kiosk selling teas and coffees would be built outside the engine house called ‘The Handy Andy’, named after the nickname miners gave to their lunchboxes.

In the long-term Mills-Brown said he hopes the spot would become popular among dog walkers and visitors walking in the nearby green areas.


The proposed layout of the development is as follows:

● Ground floor – external terrace, external food kiosk, commercial kitchen, toilets
● First floor – bar, restaurant, office, toilets
● Second floor – guest accomodation
● Third floor – guest accomodation

A planning document written by Faber Design & Architecture, the agent of the project, states the building could be turned into “a fantastic asset to the local community and the tourist and leisure economy”.

It further states the development would comprise “largely cosmetic” alterations to the building and repairs and improvements of the parkland surrounding it. The company also aims to “preserve any historical characteristics” inside the property.

“I certainly don’t want to lose the essence of what the building was,” said Mr Mills-Brown.

“We’re trying really hard to keep the style it already has and embrace the history of what it did. I think it’s absolutely fascinating what that place used to be.

“We’ve spent six months designing the building so that its integrity is intact and every single floor of that building has a nod to the Victorian era in a different way.

“We’ve tried to reproduce lots of the industrial colours and iron in the design.”

If the plans are approved, changes to the site would include repairing loose bricks, removing overgrown foliage, redecorating windows and doors, installing a new balustrade from the ground to first floor, installing aluminum pergolas either side of the entrance, levelling the patio for outdoor dining, and building a new kiosk area.

The iron works was put up for sale in 2015 by receivers appointed after the closure of Groundwork Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot, a regeneration charity.

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Charles Evans
Charles Evans
3 years ago

Beautiful historic building. If conversion to a hotel can help preserve it for future generations, then go for it!

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