National Lottery grant success for the Gunpowder Works

The future of a former Gunpowder Works site, at Glyn-neath in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, has been secured thanks to a National Lottery grant of £659,000. The grant recognises the location as one of the most significant sites of industrial heritage in South Wales. The successful grant will mean work can now start to preserve the remains of the Scheduled Ancient Monument with the aim opening the site to the public by the summer of 2019.

The project, aptly titled ‘Explosive Times’, will ensure that the remains of the Glyn-neath Gunpowder Works – a scheduled ancient monument – are preserved in their unique setting along a mile and a half stretch of the river Mellte and will secure their long term future bringing the site’s remarkable history to life. The remote works deep in the Afon Mellte valley was one of only two sites in Wales to produce blasting powder (known as black powder) used in coal mining and limestone quarrying during the industrial revolution in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. When the site was abandoned in1940 many of the buildings were burnt and demolished because they had been contaminated with black powder – since then the rest have been slowly reclaimed by nature and the surrounding forest.

The National Lottery awarded an initial grant to the National Park Authority in July 2015 to develop the project and the award of this successful round two grant is the result of many year’s hard work from the dedicated project team. Contractors have already started work stabilising the most precarious structures on site. In total the project will conserve 10 buildings and develop interpretation tools of the dramatic ‘Explosive Times’ story to help people understand how the site operated. The project will also help to recognise an important part of the local community’s heritage and provide people with opportunities to experience an exciting conservation project. Just as importantly, the project will also restore the surrounding ancient woodland and the Bannau Brycheiniog Park Society has been particularly involved in developing this area of the project which will mean many rare species will once again be able to thrive here.

Ruth Coulthard, Project Manager for the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority adds;
“The National Lottery grant will result in many exciting opportunities for this significant site to be conserved and celebrated. We look forward to engaging with the local community especially local schools, offering in-school and on-site educational lessons. We will be recruiting for a variety of volunteer posts and a work experience programme for 20 young people from late April /May and we will continue to engage with businesses to make sure the local economy gains maximum benefits from the project on their doorstep.”

Mel Doel, Chairman, Bannau Brycheiniog National park Authority commented;
“We are extremely thankful to the National Lottery for this second grant and for their continued support of the Explosive Times project. This success could not have been achieved alone though and we are particularly grateful for the additional funding received from the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Society, Bannau Brycheiniog Trust, Sustainable Development Fund, Gibbs Trust, Cadw and Natural Resources Wales. The complete cost of delivering the project comes to just over 1 million, making it one of the largest built heritage restoration projects the National Park Authority has ever embarked upon. I speak for everyone here when I say we can’t wait to see how the Gunpowder Works looks as it is brought back to life. This is such an exciting project”

Richard Bellamy, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Wales said;
“Thanks to National Lottery players’ money, this significant grant will allow the National Park Authority to work with the local community to save this unique and important Welsh heritage site. We look forward to seeing the project progress over the next three years, encouraging current and future generations to engage with a site which once thrived.”

To get involved contact or follow the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority on Facebook for project updates @breconbeaconsnationalpark.