A project which seeks to re-engage Cardiff with Flat Holm has secured phase 1 grant funding towards the proposed £1.3m development of the Island.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £152,200 of development phase funding to Flat Holm; A Walk Through Time – a joint project between Cardiff Council, RSPB Cymru and the Flat Holm Society that seeks to breathe new life into the Bristol Channel island to preserve its heritage, protect its rich wildlife and attract more visitors to the site.
Flat Holm is steeped in history and the earliest known visitor to the island was St Cadoc in the 6th Century. During the 18th century, the island's location made it an ideal base for smuggling. It is probably most famous though for being the site of Marconi's first wireless signal transmission over open sea in May 1897.
The project includes extensive renovation of the Grade II-listed Fog Horn Station, stabilisation of the Grade II-listed cholera hospital and laundry buildings, as well as repair works to the Victorian water catchment system on the Island. Environmental development is planned to improve habitats for Lesser Black-Backed Gulls and maritime flora and there will also be on-site interpretation to take visitors on a journey through the history of the island.
In addition to the Island works, the project also includes plans for a large scale public engagement venture on the mainland to promote Flat Holm. The proposed events, outdoor photographic exhibition, links with local attractions and large scale sculpture on Cardiff Bay Barrage will bring the sounds and stories of the Island through time to Cardiff residents and visitors.
The project will also provide opportunities for more school groups, communities and tourists to engage with or visit the island alongside increased volunteer engagement offering more opportunities to experience living and working on this gem of an Island.
The £152,200 award is the first of two phases of funding to develop and deliver the £1.3m project, with the potential of around £800,000 of HLF funding in total if successful at round two.
Running parallel to the project will be the reinstatement of the jetty, a vital structure for servicing and bringing visitors to the island, thanks to a £385,000 grant from the Landfill Communities Fund. Repair of the jetty is vital to renewing the access arrangements to the island following deterioration and damage from weather and tidal conditions over many years and will serve to support the planned HLF project.
Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Peter Bradbury said:
“This is fantastic news for the Council and our partners in the conservation and development of Flat Holm.
“Flat Holm is a unique attraction and one of our city's hidden treasures so I'm delighted that we have been successful in gaining the development phase funding that will enable us to take the first step in breathing new life into the island to attract both local people and visitors to the Welsh capital.
“We're very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, and of course, all those who play the National Lottery, for this funding which will help us to renovate key island buildings and improve the natural habitats for wildlife on the island while giving people the opportunity to find out more about the fascinating history of the place.”
Richard Bellamy, Head of HLF in Wales, said:
“Our natural heritage is a most precious resource and, thanks to National Lottery players, HLF grants have helped to protect an amazing range of landscapes, habitats, and species of plants and animals. HLF is delighted to support the Flat Holm: A Walk Through Time project which will stimulate people's interest in the natural world and so help them conserve it for future generations.”
RSPB Cymru Director, Katie-jo Luxton, of said:
“We're delighted that the partnership has secured this development grant. Flat Holm offers a unique opportunity to experience island wildlife and heritage on the doorstep of our capital city, set within the internationally important Severn Estuary. We look forward to working with partners during the development phase.”
Bridget Box, Secretary, Flat Holm Society, said:
“This is marvellous news! Our thanks go to everyone who worked so hard to secure this essential funding. The immediate future of the island with its unique history and habitats is secure and the Flat Holm Society looks forward to working with our Partners at the Council and the RSPB to continue important conservation and maintenance work, as well as making the island a first-class visitor attraction.”