Plans to turn former Brymbo steelworks site into major tourist attraction begin to gather pace
Plans to turn a former iron and steelworks site in Wrexham into a major visitor attraction are beginning to gather pace.
Brymbo steelworks closed its doors in 1990 resulting in the loss of more than 1,100 jobs.
Since then, former workers and local history enthusiasts have been working together to explore ways to celebrate its past.
Brymbo Heritage Trust has already secured more than £3m in lottery funding to repair the 1920s machine shop building and create a parkland.
In November, it applied for a combined total of £6.1m to fully realise its ambitions, which include a visitor centre, shop and business units.
Senior councillors in Wrexham are now being asked to show their backing for the scheme known as ‘Stori Brymbo: A 300 Million Year Journey’, which hinges on the approval of £4.1m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Ahead of their meeting on Tuesday , an executive board member said their endorsement could play a critical role.
Cllr Hugh Jones, lead member for people, said: “After many years of development, extensive consultation with residents and potential delivery partners, Brymbo Heritage Trust is ready to deliver the first phase of its vision for Brymbo Heritage Area.
“The trust’s proposals support a range of council plan priorities, having potential to bring a wide range of benefits to Wrexham, particularly in respect of heritage, tourism, and regeneration.
“The council’s support will enhance the contribution these proposals can make.
“The proposals rely on support from a number of principal funders including the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund and the Welsh Government, all of which are competitive funds.
“Funders place significant value on the involvement and endorsement of local government.”
Executive board members will be asked to approve a letter of support to accompany the bid with a decision expected in March.
If successful, construction work could begin later this year with planning applications recently submitted to the council.
Cllr Jones said the trust may also request an interest free loan from the authority to assist with cash flow at a later date.
One of the main attractions included in the regeneration plans is a fossil forest, which is believed to date back 300 million years.
The fossilised trees were discovered at the site in 2003 during opencast mining and have been awarded special protection due to their national significance.
In a statement outlining the proposals, trust members said they were aiming to restore pride in the steelworks.
They said: “The spaces occupied by the old buildings, their associated structures and landscapes have come to be known locally as Brymbo Heritage Area.
“We’re using our heritage to build a new future, where those spaces are brought back into positive use as ‘Stori Brymbo: A 300 Million Year Journey’.
“The story and the journey it describes are simultaneously historical and forward looking, using our past successes and failures alike to inspire future generations.
“Our driver is the prospect of vibrancy and a restored local sense of pride, identity and place.
“After deliberately patient pre-development and development stages we’re now completely clear how we’ll proceed.”
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme)
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