A World of Welsh Copper and Cu@Swansea


By 1851 Wales had become the world’s first industrial nation and the copper industry was at its heart. The Lower Swansea Valley was the crucible of this global Copper Industry.

Since 2010, Swansea University has developed a programme of research, community engagement and heritage led regeneration to celebrate this important industry, understand how it shaped the city and explore how this heritage can contribute to the future development of the city. The impact of this research agenda has been significant with awareness of the city’s copper heritage significantly higher (Swansea City Football Club now even play in Copper Colours) and significant and ongoing development at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site.

Worlds of Welsh Copper

The ESRC-funded project History, Heritage and Urban Regeneration: The Global and Local Worlds of Welsh Copper which ran from September 2010 to March 2012, including the City and County of Swansea, the National Waterfront Museum and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. The 2010 Copper Day attracted over 3000 participants. The legacy can be seen on the A World of Welsh Copper website.

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The project is led by Professor Huw Bowen, a leading expert on the economic, imperial, and maritime history of Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Huw has described the copper industry as being at the heart of Wales' development at the first industrial nation.


Swansea University then entered into a formal partnership with the City and County of Swansea in 2012 in order to explore the heritage-led regeneration of the former site of the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks.

This broader regeneration project Cu@Swansea, was awarded a funding package of £521,000 in 2012 and the programme was completed in July 2014.  This was funded through The Welsh Government’s £19m Heritage Tourism Project, administered by Cadw, with funds from The Welsh Government, European Regional Development Fund and the City and County of Swansea. A further £500,000 plus was later secured from the Welsh Government. This project has reclaimed much of the site of the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks and created a destination for people to visit and understand the site and its history. Information about the project and visiting the site is available at www.hafodmorfacopperworks.com

Cu@Swansea also received an AHRC Connected Communities grant in January 2012.  This funding enabled the project team to ensure that local community groups remain at the heart of the research being undertaken on the Hafod-Morfa site.  It facilitated engagement with local community groups by helping local groups to prepare project bids for the Heritage Lottery Fund All Our Stories scheme.  In October 2012 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded funding to six of the project bids and since then these community groups have been working in partnership with Swansea University on their projects.  In January 2013 the AHRC awarded CU@Swansea follow-on funding worth £39,442 (Phase 2).  With this new funding the project team was able to continue expanding its promotion of community-based research projects.

Additional Funding

Swansea University funded two PhD studentships within the Department of History and Classics and The Department of Computer Science on visualisation techniques and mapping and performative technologies.

The AHRC has also awarded RIAH funding for a programme of postgraduate skills development based on the Cu@Swansea project. A programme of heritage-themed master classes, a series of placements with national and international heritage organisations and an innovative Heritage Apprentice Programme will get underway in October 2012.

The College of Arts and Humanities has continued to fund a part time member of staff and dedicate significant resources to develop the next phase of the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks development project which will see the further development of the site. The Vision for the site’s future can be seen here. http://www.hafodmorfacopperworks.com/the-future-2/

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