Neath Port Talbot Council has welcomed funding of £1.8m to develop the Cefn Coed Colliery Museum site into a major gateway for the Welsh Government’s Valleys Park Initiative.
The Valleys Park will promote tourism, create jobs and maximise social, economic and environmental advantages by developing a highly visible network of gateways set in uplands, woodlands, nature reserves and country parks, across the South Wales Valleys.
The announcement of the £1.8m from the Welsh Government’s Valleys Taskforce to transform Cefn Coed Colliery at Crynant, in the Dulais Valley, into a “Discovery Gateway” for the ambitious project was made by First Minister Mark Drakeford and Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters when they visited Cefn Coed on Wednesday (September 11th).
The money is in addition to £1.5m which has already been committed by the Welsh Government to the specialist treatment and repair of the historic pithead frames at Cefn Coed.
The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Councillor Rob Jones, welcomed the funding saying: “We are delighted to be working in conjunction with the Welsh Government and the Valleys Task Force on this extremely important project which is aimed at boosting local economies and creating new jobs.”
Councillor Annette Wingrave, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development added: “Our vision for this site is to create an iconic attraction which assists in growing the visitor economy in the area by promoting the important heritage and unique landscape of our valleys areas while putting the local community at the forefront of the attraction.
“We want to achieve this by immersing visitors in a modern and innovative interpretive experience which tells the valleys’ human story in the backdrop of the dramatic valleys landscape and historic pit wheel structures.”
In addition to interpreting the museum in a new way, the proposed development will create visitor facilities, a café offering locally sourced produce, a retail offer including local arts and produce and play provision to attract families.
To achieve this the Council is seeking to strengthen volunteer and community involvement at the museum and place them at the forefront of storytelling.
Through the provision of visitor information, the proposed Cefn Coed Gateway will become a central base to explore the western valleys and other nearby valley attractions and activities.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It’s been great to visit Cefn Coed Mining Museum to learn about the exciting plans for a Discovery Gateway.
“As well as becoming destinations in their own right, Discovery Gateways have a great opportunity to tell the stories of the Valleys and encourage people to explore the surrounding areas, including local towns and villages.”
In addition to Cefn Coed, Parc Penallta in Caerphilly was also announced on Wednesday as another Discovery Gateway site. Investment in a series of Discovery Gateways in the Valleys is seen as crucial to the Valleys Park initiative, the gateways providing safe and welcoming spaces for local communities and visitors alike.