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Swansea Firm to Build One of the City’s Key Regeneration Projects

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John Weaver Contractors has been appointed main contractor for the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks powerhouse and outbuildings redevelopment.

The business was awarded the contract by Swansea Council after a rigorous Europe-wide competitive tender process.

Over the next few years the location will be transformed for future generations.

The site will include the renovation of the historic Powerhouse building. Wales’s Penderyn Distillery will expand there and fit it out as a new distillery and visitor centre.

Swansea Council is overseeing the transformation as part of its plans to regenerate the lower River Tawe corridor. Construction is due to start this summer.

Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said:

“We want to make the riverside corridor a key to unlocking Swansea’s great future potential.

“The copperworks is a major part of our history and this site will play a powerful role in our future.

“I’m glad that we have local construction expertise to help us do that. John Weaver Contractors is a Swansea family firm with over a century of combined construction experience and their bid for this work offered us the best package when considering cost, experience and timeframe.”

Terry Edwards, managing director of John Weaver Contractors, said:

“We are delighted to have been awarded another prestigious project which is so close to our headquarters in Hafod.

“Our embedded conservation teams are focused on ensuring existing landmarks and heritage buildings such as the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks are brought back to life and enjoyed by future generations for years to come.

“The local knowledge of our in-house craftsmen and artisans means they understand not only the finer technical details when it comes to conserving buildings, but also the heart and soul of the structures that are temporarily in our care.

“We look forward to partnering with Swansea Council and Penderyn Distillery on what will be another landmark for the city for years to come.

“The copperworks was key to Swansea’s great industrial past; we’re glad to be playing a role in ensuring it offers the city big things in the future.”

Construction work is expected to take place through 2020 and 2021, with Penderyn Whisky planning to open there in 2022.

John Weaver Contractors has previously worked on the copperworks site, restoring the iconic Musgrave Engine House and Vivian Engine House in a £700,000 project funded by the council, Cadw, Welsh Government Transforming Towns and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Around four years ago the firm completed a £6.7m refurbishment of Swansea’s Grade II listed Glynn Vivian Art Gallery complete with new extensions.

The Lower Swansea Valley became the world leading centre for copper smelting in the 18th century. The Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site is of international importance, becoming the world's largest copperworks in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century.

The council secured a £3.75m National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for the expansive Hafod-Morfa site’s transformation work, with additional works to other historical buildings in the vicinity funded by Welsh Government Transforming Towns funding.

The council worked with partners – including Penderyn Whisky and Swansea University – to create the National Lottery Heritage Fund bid.

Hafod-Morfa Copperworks – the past, present and future

The copperworks site dates back to 1809, comprises 12.5 acres on the west bank of the Tawe and is linked to the city centre by the new 1.7km Morfa Distributor Road.

In its heyday, copper ore from as far afield as North America, Cuba, Australia and South America was smelted at the site, putting Swansea at the centre of a global web of copper trading connections.

Plans for the disused site opposite the Liberty Stadium, include:

  • a new-build Penderyn Distillery visitor centre with shop, tasting bar, exhibition space and toilets;
  • the creation of a distillery, offices and VIP bar in the fully refurbished Grade Two Listed powerhouse building;
  • a new barrel store in part of the Grade Two Listed rolling mill now used as the Swansea Museums collections store;
  • a new-build covered walkway connecting the refurbished powerhouse, new-build visitor centre and barrel store;
  • landscaping;
  • parking spaces;

Restoration of the former works gates, porter’s lodge and weighbridge offices.

The distillery plans to open its Penderyn Experience whisky tour on the site. It would educate visitors about distilling and the site’s history and could attract more than 50,000 people a year.