Volunteers joy as Brymbo Heritage Trust is granted charity status in bid to restore old steelworks site

Reporter:

Jonathan Grieve

Volunteers working to make Brymbo the Ironbridge of North East Wales are jumping for joy after being granted charity status.

Earlier this month, the Leader reported a planning application was received by Wrexham Council requesting permission for the conversion of a former machine shop to an exhibition area, as well as other developments, at the former Brymbo Steelworks site on Blast Road.

The project’s first phase, which is estimated to cost £7.9m and will run until 2021, has six key focus areas.

Those include restoration of the machine shop, a covered excavation space for the fossil forest, a programme of stabilisation and restoration of the ironworks buildings, stabilisation of cupolas and chimneys, development of the site’s frontage and hard landscaping for access.

The submitted plans for the machine shop propose to bring it back into sustainable use as a visitor welcome and interpretation centre which includes a reception point and heritage exhibition.

The plans state the site will also support a heritage skills learning facility and workshop, flexible events/activities space, and provide a number of rentable office/workshop spaces.

Heritage officer Gary Brown said: “We’ve been working towards this for about a year.

“It is a really big step forward for us because it takes us from the amateur footing we have been on for 20 years to a more serious level.

“There are six trustees, all of whom have been involved with the project on a long-term basis.

“We are absolutely delighted. The process that we had to go through is extensive and it is a huge step.”

Mr Brown said being granted charity status meant the £2m Brymbo Heritage Trust was awarded last year would start to flow into the group, which hopes to raise about £10m in total.

The narrow gauge railway application the group plans to submit will entail laying track for a miniature railway at the steelworks by an organisation called Brymbo Mineral Railway, which visitors will be able to ride around the site to learn about the historic industrial railways but also to enjoy as an attraction in its own right.

Since 2013/14, the group has received more than £120,000 in direct funding from the Welsh Government, as well as more than £2m in lottery funding.

Mr Brown added the third annual edition of Brymbo Rocks is due to be held on September 23, with 15 bands performing in the ruins of the steelworks over nine hours.

More than 1,000 people have turned out for the first two events and it is hoped the latest edition will alo be a success.

Tickets cost £10 and are available from the Brymbo Enterprise Centre in Blast Road or online at www.brymbo heritage.co.uk/events/

Email:

jonathan.grieve@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Leader

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