One of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park’s most significant industrial heritage sites has the opportunity to be brought back to life, thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). A grant of £58,000 has been awarded to develop plans for the ‘Explosive Times: preservation and celebration of the Glyn-neath Gunpowder Works’ project which aims to secure its long term future by conserving the structures and bringing alive the story of the site for residents and visitors.
The remains of the Gunpowder Works, one of only two in Wales and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, cling perilously near to the sides of the steep Mellte gorge. During the industrial age of the 19th and early 20th Century it mainly produced blasting powder used in quarrying which was not only vital to Wales but the rest of the world. The site was closed in 1931 and most of the buildings were blown up to ensure that no gunpowder remained which left the site in a state of dangerous decay and disconnected from the community to which it was once so intimately bound. The ‘Explosive Times’ project will secure the Gunpowder Works future by safeguarding the structures and bringing to life the site’s remarkable history, as well as taking action to conserve its beautiful and unique setting.
The initial grant of £58,000 will help the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park to develop proposals, leading to a second round grant application to the HLF for a further £659,500. The project will run over three and a half years and the National Park Authority has already successfully raised over £280,000 in match funding from the Bannau Brycheiniog Park Society, Cadw, Natural Resources Wales, The Bannau Brycheiniog Trust and the Gibbs Trust. The complete cost of the grant funding comes to £1,001,867, making it one of the largest restoration projects the National Park Authority has ever embarked upon.
Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority’s Chairman Mrs Melanie Doel said: “This is such fantastic news not just for the Gunpowder Works but the whole area and we are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for this award. This site is a vital piece of our industrial heritage and the support from the Lottery will allow us to breathe new life into the area and safeguard the remains of this historic and valuable monument in our care. It will also help us celebrate the site’s legacy both within the community and for the visitors to the site, showing how significant its impact was on this area. Our officers have worked really hard to get to this point and we are now looking forward to working on the project with expert help, contractors and volunteers to turn this fantastic vision into an exciting reality.”
The project will stabilise and conserve the site’s buildings and ancient woodlands. It is hoped that an ambitious plan to deliver education, interpretation and information to inspire current and future generations to embrace/engage with the site will mean that residents, staff and volunteers reconnect with the site. Over time the project is intended to boost the economic well-being of the area and a long-term management maintenance plan will be set up for the site.
Ruth Coultard, Project Manager for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority said: “The ‘Explosive Times’ project will mark one of the most ambitious piece of restructuring work in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, providing us with the wonderful opportunity to conserve and upgrade this neglected Scheduled Ancient Monument to meet the needs of new audiences. This is a substantial grant for the conservation of a particular site and will enable us to create a huge impact both on conserving the area and boosting its economy.”
Richard Bellamy, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales said, “This project has the potential to make a huge difference to both our industrial and natural heritage. Thanks to National Lottery players money, Bannau Brycheiniog National Park will be able to develop plans to protect, improve and share a unique part of our Welsh heritage. We look forward to hearing how the project develops over the coming months”.
Pictures: Copyright of Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority