Ambitious plans to carry out a multi-million pound redevelopment of Merthyr Tydfil’s iconic Cyfarthfa Castle have taken another step forward with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council has secured £376,650 to develop a HLF stage two application that will see the internationally important Grade I listed building restored following structural deterioration, and transformed.
The first phase will focus on the redevelopment of the former school side of the Castle and it is envisaged that the Castle, built by ironmaster William Crawshay II in 1824, will eventually house a learning and research zone, along with an enterprise centre supporting local business growth.
The building was purchased from the Crawshay family in 1909 by the County Borough Council, which subsequently established a museum, art gallery and secondary schools – the latter moving to purpose-built premises in 2014. Management of the park and Castle was recently transferred to Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust (MTLT).
The project is envisaged to create jobs in the construction sector and museum service, as well as providing office accommodation and job creation at the enterprise centre.
“Cyfarthfa Castle has always had significant historical value,” said Council Leader Cllr Brendan Toomey.
“We plan to see it not only preserved to tell the story of Merthyr Tydfil’s history to future generations, but also to become a major economic driver.”
Approval of a first round application to the HLF’s Heritage Grants programme means the unlocking of £498,000 worth of funding from the Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places Programme (VVP) for urgent capital repairs to ensure the building is watertight until funding is secured for the full renovation.
“Despite the best efforts of the Council in maintaining the building, it is currently at a critical stage,” Brendan Toomey added. “Without the investment to redevelop it immediately, the building would deteriorate further and the project become economically unviable.”
Proposals are that the new Learning Zone will meet the demands of the National Curriculum for Wales, working closely with schools, colleges and universities, through the establishment of new, tailored accredited courses and interactive educational workshops and activities.
The Cyfarthfa Enterprise Centre will have offices and meeting rooms for rent and become a grow-on space for SME start-up businesses that have been supported through the Merthyr Tydfil Enterprise Centre and Orbit Business Centre, and which require a larger space to develop.
A new, larger Collection Store will allow the museum’s collection to be preserved and researched in a first rate facility.
MTLT Chief Executive Richard Marsh said:
“We are delighted to announce yet another important step forward in our plans to enhance and develop Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery.
“This is an exciting time for this superb venue and Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust look forward to supporting Cyfarthfa Castle to fulfil its undoubted potential into the future.”
Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, Richard Bellamy, said:
“Thanks to National Lottery players, not only will an important historic building be saved from deterioration, but will also be rejuvenated so it can play an important new role in the community. We are excited to see how plans for Cyfarthfa Castle develop at the next stage and look forward to helping this fantastic project progress.”
The Grade II* registered Cyfarthfa park has also seen a huge amount of investment through a four-year redevelopment made possible by £3.1 million investment from the HLF’s Parks for People Programme, Welsh Government, CADW and the County Borough Council. Works at the Castle will complement both completed projects and future projects proposed for the park.