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Plans to revitalise key Swansea heritage site revealed


The plans, with new architect images for the disused site opposite the Liberty Stadium, include:

  • a 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;
  • a new building and covered walkway connecting these buildings.

The transformation would be home to the Penderyn Experience whisky tour that would also educate people about the site’s rich history and could attract more than 50,000 visitors a year.

The application, submitted by Swansea Council, is expected to be published soon. It will then be considered by planners and be subject to the formal planning process.

The scheme, designed by GWP Architecture, will form part of a council application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a £3.75m grant for the work. If granted planning permission, it would use materials appropriate to the historic setting.

The initial phase of works funded by HLF will complete shell and core works, and paves the way for investment from Penderyn to complete the internal fit-out to complete the distillery and visitor attraction.

Since being awarded a £189,600 HLF grant to progress the plans last year, the council has worked with partners – including Penderyn and Swansea University – to create a detailed bid.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “This exciting scheme will further conserve the copperworks site by making use of historically significant buildings in a sensitive and sustainable way. It will incorporate the world-famous Penderyn brand in Swansea.

“It will create jobs, attract visitors and boost the on-going regeneration of the River Tawe corridor.

“We’re determined to work with public and private sector partners to maximise the river’s potential to develop housing, walks, restaurants, water-based activities, landing stations and boat trips between the city centre and the Liberty Stadium.

“Other wonderful plans for this area include a cable car and a high-speed zip wire ride on Kilvey Hill, with a visitor centre, restaurant and viewing platform on top of the hill.”

Penderyn owner Nigel Short said: “The new plans are incredibly exciting for us as a business and for Swansea as a forward-thinking community.

“Penderyn wants to be a part of the regeneration of the copperworks and repeat the success we already have with our Welsh single malt whisky and other products.”

The Penderyn scheme would build on preservation and interpretation work already under way at the Hafod Morfa Copperworks site, thanks to the Cu@Swansea project led by Swansea Council and Swansea University.

The site dates back to 1808, 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.

Professor John Spurr, head of the College of Arts and Humanities at Swansea University, said: “This is wonderful news and shows how Swansea University research is making a positive difference in our city.

“We’re delighted that this exciting and ambitious project has taken a major step forward as it will give an opportunity for more people to learn about Swansea’s illustrious copper heritage and provide a home for our work in heritage research, teaching, and public engagement.”

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for culture, tourism and major projects, said: “Working alongside the university and community volunteers, work on site in recent years has included clearing vegetation, stabilising buildings at risk, improving access for visitors, archaeology fieldwork, new pathways, an audio visual trail and new information panels.

“We’re proud of our heritage in Swansea, with the celebration of our rich history very much part of our culture that resonates with our status as Wales’ city of culture.

“Supply chain opportunities will be available at the copperworks site, sustainable materials and energy efficiency technology will be used, and targeted recruitment and training opportunities will be included in any construction contracts to benefit the disadvantaged in our communities, if our bid to the HLF is successful.”

Other plans include a heritage skills development package during restoration works in areas like lime mortaring, stone masonry and blacksmithing.

GWP Architecture have offices around the UK and a growing specialism within the heritage/visitor attraction and drinks sector. The Hafod project follows the recent successful delivery of the National Horseracing Museum, Newmarket, and the Bombay Sapphire Distillery and Visitor Centre, Hampshire.