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22 May 2024

£3.3m Investment Boosts Sustainability of Aberystwyth Attraction

Vale of Rheidol Railway managing director Llŷr ap Iolo (left) with the Welsh Government’s deputy director of tourism, development and sport Steffan Roberts prepare to cut the tape to officially open the new museum in Aberystwyth.

A new museum and events space in Aberystwyth marks the completion of a £3.3 million tourism project.

The repurposed building offers 5,000 square feet of display space for some of The Vale of Rheidol Railway’s priceless collection, alongside exhibits from around the world. It tells the story of how Wales led the way in narrow gauge railways, helping to export the idea all over the world.

The building project has been completed on budget by the railway, despite having to navigate Covid restrictions and increasing costs through the last phase of construction.

The museum is part of the £3.3 million Wales to the World project which is transforming the site into a station suitable for modern tourists. It’s estimated that The Vale of Rheidol Railway generates around £2 million annually for the local economy.

“Delivering the project has been challenging at times,” said Llŷr ap Iolo, managing director of the Vale of Rheidol Railway. “However, we now finally have the facilities to welcome visitors to the railway and offer a fantastic experience and day out.

“This makes the business more sustainable, both as an all year-round attraction and as a large local employer.”

The museum is located in the old Aberystwyth engine shed building, which was built in 1938 by the Great Western Railway. The space has been transformed into a multi-purpose display and events venue for community events.

The official opening ceremony was performed by Steffan Roberts, the Welsh Government’s deputy director of tourism, development and sport.

Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said:

“It’s very exciting news that the new museum and community events space is now open to the public. The modern exhibition will raise awareness of the pivotal role that Wales played in the history of narrow gauge railways and is a great addition to an already highly popular Welsh attraction.”

As well as £1.6 million of funding from the European Regional Development Fund and £256,000 from the Welsh Government, the project received £300,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund, administered on behalf of the Welsh Government by the National Lottery Community Fund.

The project also received £100,000 from the Railway Heritage Trust towards the atrium and reconstruction of the portico entrance.

Invited guests enjoyed a private look inside the museum, whilst being entertained by Aberystwyth-based professional string quartet Da’l Ati. Guests then boarded the train for a ride to Devil’s Bridge for a buffet lunch, provided by the Two Hoots Tea Room.

“It was fantastic to invite our funders, contractors and friends to the opening day to thank them and showcase the finished building,” added Llŷr.

The venue will be open daily until the start of November. Entry is £5 for adults, £3 for children or free for those travelling on the train.

The museum is also being used as a hub for community events throughout the year, including live music and lunchtime concerts. The space is also available for private functions and events, with further details are available from the railway.

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