South Wales Evening Post - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD YOULE @Youlepost • 01792 545553 richard.youle@me­di­awales.co.uk

A VIS­I­TOR cen­tre and whisky dis­tillery at Swansea’s Hafod-morfa Cop­per­works have taken a ma­jor step for­ward thanks to a £3.5 mil­lion grant from the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund.

The money will help trans­form a derelict site which was once a cen­tre­piece of the city’s global cop­per in­dus­try.

And hav­ing a com­mer­cial part­ner on board is im­por­tant to its suc­cess, ac­cord­ing to Her­itage Lot­tery Fund’s head of her­itage, Richard Bel­lamy.

“I came here in 2015 when the coun­cil was first think­ing of the idea (for the site), and it has been quite a jour­ney,” said Mr Bel­lamy.

“The coun­cil has been very com­mit­ted and I think hav­ing the part­ner – Pen­deryn – is what con­vinced us.

“These build­ings are a sym­bol of Welsh in­dus­trial his­tory. We need to save them, but with­out sus­tain­able, long-term use that’s go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult.”

The grade two-listed pow­er­house at the Hafod-morfa Cop­per­works will be turned into a whisky dis­tillery, bar and of­fices.

A new vis­i­tor cen­tre with a shop, ex­hi­bi­tion space and tast­ing bar will be built next door. And be­yond that, a quar­ter of the grade two-listed rolling mill will be used as whisky bar­rel store.

The build­ings will be linked by a cov­ered walk­way – and fur­ther de­vel­op­ments could fol­low.

Swansea Coun­cil leader Rob Stew­art said: “Thanks to Na­tional Lot­tery play­ers, this ex­cit­ing scheme will create jobs, at­tract visi­tors and boost the on­go­ing re­gen­er­a­tion of the River Tawe cor­ri­dor.”

He said he hoped it would be the start of a wider re­gen­er­a­tion of the 12.5-acre cop­per­works, which also com­prises a lab­o­ra­tory – where the sci­en­tist Michael Fara­day once lec­tured – and en­gine house. Pen­deryn owner Nigel Short de­scribed the plans for the site as in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing.

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

His col­league, Jon Tre­genna, said the com­pany would be in­vest­ing “a lot” in the project but still needed to fi­nalise its plans with the Welsh Gov­ern­ment.

“This has been a great idea from the start,” he said.

“You make whisky us­ing cop­per, and this grant is very ex­cit­ing.”

The coun­cil is to in­vest £1.7 mil­lion in the project, and a bid for Welsh Gov­ern­ment money for in­fra­struc­ture up­grades has been sub­mit­ted.

The cop­per­works date back to 1808.

In its 19th Cen­tury hey­day, cop­per ore from Chile, Aus­tralia and North Amer­ica was smelted at the site, putting Swansea – or Cop­per­opo­lis, as it was known – at the cen­tre of an in­ter­na­tional web of cop­per trad­ing.

Arche­ol­o­gist Dr Alexan­der Lang­lands has been re­search­ing the site as part of a long-stand­ing Swansea Univer­sity in­volve­ment in the re­gen­er­a­tion project.

He said the Cop­per­opo­lis era sig­ni­fied a shift from the days when Wales was just min­ing and pro­cess­ing its own ma­te­ri­als, and that it was im­por­tant for peo­ple in the area to be aware of the site’s im­por­tance.

Dr Lang­lands added that the cop­per­works had changed over time.

“It is a palimpsest of dif­fer­ent phases of de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

Mean­while, work to re­store the walls and the roof of the nearby Mus­grove En­gine House – a sched­uled an­cient mon­u­ment made of cop­per slag and ash bricks – is on­go­ing, thanks to Cadw and coun­cil fund­ing.

The old gantry crane in­side the build­ing has been re­moved and is be­ing re­stored by the Friends of Hafod-morfa Cop­per­works.

Baroness Kay An­drews, chair­woman of the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund in Wales, said: “This will be a mon­u­men­tal change for this his­toric site. The Hafod-morfa cop­per­works, once a thriv­ing in­dus­trial cen­tre, will be given a chance to re­turn to its for­mer glory thanks to Na­tional Lot­tery play­ers.”

Lan­dore coun­cil­lor Mike White used to work at the site when it was oc­cu­pied by York­shire Im­pe­rial Met­als.

The pow­er­house was used as a can­teen. Asked what the food was like there, Mr White said: “Won­der­ful.”

These build­ings are a sym­bol of Welsh in­dus­trial his­tory. We need to save them, but with­out sus­tain­able, long-term use that’s go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult - Her­itage Lot­tery Fund’s head of her­itage, Richard Bel­lamy

How Swansea’s his­toric Hafod-morfa Cop­per­works site could look.

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