Historic copperworks site set for new lease of life
Swansea’s historic Hafod Copperworks site is set for a new lease of life thanks to a major tourism project grant.
Work could start early next year on a scheme that will include tourist trails, a visitor gateway and an annual on-site event that will celebrate the copper industry and both its local and global history.
Archaeological work will also be undertaken to reveal any of the site’s hidden features and interpretation will be added to highlight buildings of importance.
The site’s canteen and laboratory buildings will be stabilised and opportunities will be made available for community learning and school visits.
The Welsh Government is contributing £277,000 to the scheme through Regeneration Funding and Targeted Match Funding and £244,000 has been provided from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Welsh Government’s £19m Heritage Tourism project.
Swansea Council has also contributed to the project.
Swansea University applied for some of the funding as part of its work alongside the council to explore regeneration opportunities for the site.
The works will be phased and should be complete by the end of 2013.
Cllr Chris Holley, Swansea Council Leader, said: “The Hafod Copperworks has largely fallen into dereliction since its closure in 1980 but this project will breathe new life into one of the UK’s most important industrial revolution sites.
“We’ve been working closely alongside Swansea University on plans that will help conserve the site and celebrate its past and this scheme will act as a stepping-stone for other exciting developments in future.
“There’s a huge opportunity for footfall through the site because of the worldwide interest in our industrial heritage and the proximity of the Morfa Retail Park and Premier League football at the Liberty Stadium.”
Professor Huw Bowen, who is leading the project team on behalf of Swansea University, said: “This shows what can be achieved when Swansea Council, Swansea University and other partners work together for the good of the city.
“The market for heritage tourism in Swansea is very real and is waiting to be tapped. This scheme will make the site accessible once again and will help tell the story of Swansea’s rich industrial history.
“We hope to translate the high level of international interest in the site into significant levels of visitors over the next three years.”
Huw Lewis, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, said: “Tourism is an extremely important contributor to the Welsh economy and Wales’ striking and diverse historic environment is the reason many visitors come to Wales. I’m pleased that we have been able to offer this substantial funding to this project. This will allow us to develop facilities to tell Wales’ story and to give visitors and residents a better understanding of our history and culture from different periods.”
The 12.5 acre Hafod Copperworks site contains 12 Grade II listed buildings and features.
The site’s smelting works and other buildings date from 1810 and helped shape the development of Swansea as a key industrial town at the heart of the first globally integrated heavy industry.
Image 1: Courtesy of Professor Huw Bowen, Swansea University.
Images 2 and 3: Courtesy of the City and County of Swansea.