ABOUT THE PROJECT
Brymbo Heritage Project is being driven by local people who are passionate about conserving and celebrating Brymbo’s natural and industrial heritage. Together we are Brymbo Heritage Trust (BHT), a voluntary organisation (and since 2017 a registered charity) that was set up in the 1990s. We’ve grown considerably since then, and have developed a strong vision for the remains of the former iron and steelworks and fossil forest area to play a major role in the area’s ongoing regeneration.
Our progress – 2013 to 2018
In 2013 we were successful in obtaining a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for £97,500 to run an exciting project – Brymbo’s Heritage Renaissance: Building the Momentum – allowing us to bring paid personnel along with us to help turn our vision into a reality.
The Heritage Renaissance project was the crucial first stage in the long term phased development of the former iron and steelworks and fossil forest area into visitor attraction, learning centre and small business hub.
The project celebrated Brymbo’s rich (and internationally significant) heritage, and helped to reconnect the local community with the space so they can help re-vision and deliver its future. The eventual restoration and reuse of the buildings, along with new buildings to help uncover and interpret our 300 million year old fossilised trees will help bring much needed regeneration to the area together with learning, employment and recreation opportunities.
Between 2014 and 2016 we:
- Recorded and published oral histories linked to our industrial and social past
- Produced education resources for schools and working with them to deliver their curriculum
- Developed a programme of events and activities to engage and benefit the community
- Digitised and catalogued documents, photographs and various artefacts
- Built, trained and managed an ever growing team of volunteers
- Developed our initial website and social media presence to support all aspects of the project
- Developed a masterplan for the phased physical development of the site
In late 2015 we also secured £33,000 from the People’s Health Trust (the charitable trust arm of the UK Health Lottery) to further develop our work with volunteers through to the end of 2017. This work helped us reach more people to become volunteers, especially those less likely to get involved.
At the end of 2015 we secured £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop our outline business plan.
In September and December 2016 we submitted major capital funding bids to a range of funders to help us deliver Phase 1 of our master plan (see links below) between now and 2021. One of the key elements of this is the refurbishment of the Machine Shop – the building that you see as you drive or walk past us. TACP architects worked with us to produce this impression of the restored building, fronted by a large open public square:
A second key element of Phase 1 is getting a building over the fossil forest to allow a 5-8 year excavation programme to take place indoors. That building might be fairly modest initially, but Byrom Clarke Roberts architects worked with us in 2016 to imagine what the eventual fossil forest visitor centre building might look like and have produced this concept using leaves as its roof sections:
In March 2017 we secured £1,996,482 from the BIG Lottery’s Create Your Space programme to deliver a 7 year programme that will see many ex-industrial sites in and around Brymbo benefit from reuse – as open space, as walks, as places to meet and enjoy the outdoors. We’ve called this project ‘Roots to Shoots’ and during 2017 and 2018 we’ve made progress in engaging people to work with us to bring these spaces back to life.
Our next steps
By November 2018 we’ve already raised more than £4.2m towards our target of £10m to make the whole of Phase 1 work. During 2019 we’ll be finalising our proposals to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funders, and in doing so we’ll be talking with residents, community groups, partners and stakeholders across the area and beyond to test our proposals out. The big decision comes in January 2020.
In the meantime, we’ll shortly be starting work on the Fossil Forest building and the restoration of the Machine Shop.
Background documents available to download:
Master Plan – Full doc – Sept 2015 (produced by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust)