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Work begins on stunning new entrance to Aberystwyth University’s iconic Old College

10 Aug 2022 4 minute read
Old College Aberystwyth University. Photo Reading Tom, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The project to restore Aberystwyth University’s iconic Old College is underway as part of what is described as “one of the most ambitious educational, heritage, cultural and community projects in Wales”.

The project’s principal contractor, Andrew Scott Ltd, has started work on the stunning new entrance to the Grade 1 listed building this month.

Preparation of the site for the new atrium commences this week as work to remove the University’s old Estates building, which runs along King Street and dates from the 1960s, gets underway.

Plans for the ambitious £36m project include the transformation of the Georgian Villas on the sea front, 1 and 2 Marine Terrace, and a new atrium that will provide access to all levels of the Old College from King Street.

The new atrium will provide easy access to all levels of the Old College, including the 4* hotel accommodation and the glass fronted 200-seater function room that will sit above the Georgian Villas and offer dramatic views over Cardigan Bay.


Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan, the University’s Executive Lead on the Old College project said: “This is a very important milestone our redevelopment of this most fantastic of buildings.

“I am very grateful to the entire Hen Goleg team for all their hard work. It is great to see this next step forward in realising our ambitious plans to bring new life to this iconic building and establish a major cultural and creative centre for Wales where diverse communities can engage with learning and heritage, share in discovery and prosper from enterprise.

“This is indeed a hugely important project for Aberystwyth, both for the University and the town, economically, socially and culturally.

“We are extremely grateful for the support from our partners and former students who have pledged significant funds to the project.”

This latest phase of the project was marked with the removal of the first slate from the old University Estates building on Thursday 28 July.

The work means a section of King Street leading to Pier Street will be closed to traffic for up to four weeks.

Access to King Street for residents parking will remain, along with access for pedestrians. Measures will also be in place to minimise disruption for those living or working in the area.

Themed zones

The redeveloped Old College will provide a major centre for learning, heritage, culture and enterprise in three themed zones: World of Knowledge, Culture and Community, and Enterprise and Innovation.

Inspired by the University’s motto, World of Knowledge will include a centre celebrating pioneering Science and Research, a University Museum, a Young People’s project to provide opportunities to boost skills and aspirations and wellbeing, a 24-7 student study centre and a cutting-edge cinema facility.

Traditionally the heart of the Old College, the Quad will provide the focus for the Community and Culture zone’s exhibition galleries that will feature curated displays from the University collections and touring exhibitions from major partners. This zone also includes the UK’s first Centre for Dialogue.

The Enterprise and Innovation zone will provide 12 Creative Business Units and communal spaces to encourage young entrepreneurs in creative and digital businesses, two fast growing sectors of major economic importance to west Wales.

Long-term future

Once completed the Old College is expected to attract 200,000 visitors and contribute up to £14.5m annually to the local economy, putting it on par with major tourist destinations such as Caernarfon and Conwy castles.

Up to 130 jobs will be created directly and indirectly and there will also be more than 400 volunteering opportunities.

There will be 4* hotel accommodation and spaces for activities and events across 7 floors and 143 rooms, including 10 rooms with capacity ranging from 60 and up to 200 people.

The restoration project of one of Wales’s outstanding Grade I buildings has been awarded over £11 million (£11,111,000) by the National Lottery Heritage Fund which will help to secure the Old College’s long-term future.

In addition, the project has also secured considerable funding from Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), the Welsh Government and funds from the European Regional Development Fund.


In January 2022 the University set an ambitious new fundraising target of £1.5m for the Old College Appeal which has also achieved notable success.

Nearly £4m has already been raised, which includes 2.2m from trusts and over £1.7m from the University community of alumni and friends from around the world.

The success of the fundraising work means the vast majority of the funding required for this project is now in place.

Images and plans for the Old College project are available online here.

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I Humphrys
I Humphrys
1 year ago

Everything over the top. Stunning?

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
1 year ago

It is great to hear work has started Old College renovation. ‘The Pennies of the People’ book will be published soon detailing in part how the Old College was originally funded. It was funded by a handful of major donors and by thousands of working families throughout Wales To have let this building, which symbolises the fight to establish the first university in Wales, deteriorate to its present state is a sad indictment of Welsh society, previous university management and the Welsh Government. This act of neglect is a betrayal of the people who sacrificed for the idea of having… Read more »

1 year ago

The colour-coded diagram with the “Themed Zones” reminds me of the Crystal Maze.

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