An ambitious heritage project featuring attractions dating back millions of years, has received a financial boost from Wrexham Council.
The project, which is being undertaken by the Brymbo Heritage Trust, involves a major restoration project at the Brymbo Iron and Steelworks site, with plans to convert the historical landmark into a ‘vibrant, heritage-led, mixed-use visitor destination and community / enterprise hub’.
The project also includes the exploration and conservation of the nearby Brymbo Fossil Forest; a major site of geological interest with fossils dating back more than 300 million years.
Earlier this year the trust gained support from Wrexham Council, who agreed to back proposals to apply for additional funding to help kick-start the project.
The support saw the trust attract nearly £2,000,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Create your Space program, allowing it to kick-start its Roots to Shoots initiative, which looks at ways of making use of former industrial open spaces in and around the village.
In a report put before councillor this week, it was proposed that Wrexham Council offer further support to the project with a loan of £170,000.
The funding application was approved unanimously by members of the council’s Executive Board, with lead member for communities, partnerships, public protection and community safety, Cllr Hugh Jones, saying Brymbo Steelworks could eventually become a ‘second World Heritage site’ in Wrexham.
He said: “It is good to sit here and be bringing forward a range of projects that are really exciting. In a way I am bringing forward a project on behalf of Brymbo Heritage Trust, the people of Brymbo and the greater area surrounding it.
“Members will see from the report the significant of this project – Brymbo a 300 million year journey. I find it difficult to get my head around that and I always have to look down and check I have got the right number of centuries when I’m making reference to this, because it really is for Wrexham and for the area of great significance.
“We had a speaker from the British Museum who updated us a few months ago. I asked him the question, how significant is this in national terms, and he said very significant. I said in European terms, very significant. In world terms, very significant – I believe we have the potential for a second World Heritage site in Wrexham.”
Cllr Jones added: “What we are asking to do is provide an interest free loan of just £170,000 to enable Brymbo Heritage Trust to deliver the regeneration vision it has for Brymbo.
“It is an exciting project and it is a project which we as a council have played some part in. But the main credit has to go to Brymbo Heritage Trust and the people of the area, the local community and the community council which have supported them in getting this far.
“It gives me great pleasure to move the recommendation, that members authorise a loan of £170,000 together with appropriate level of officer time in support of the project management board.”
Welcoming the report, local member for Brymbo, Cllr Paul Rogers said: “Before I second the recommendation, I would like to add to Cllr Jones’ comments. This has been a very long journey and key milestone in this project.
“The Brymbo Steelworks is of vast importance and this assistance from the council will help regenerate that site and the historic monument in our area.
“I would like to thank the lead member and officers for their support and congratulate the group on everything they have received to date.”
The loan will be repaid to Wrexham Council by the Trust, using funds reclaimed from the Heritage Lottery Fund.