The first phase of work has begun on a project to restore and renovate one of Wales’ last remaining Miners Welfare Halls.
Hughes Architects has been appointed to produce architectural designs that will lead to the transformation of Cefn Fforest Miners Institute in Blackwood, South Wales. A community group is raising funds to save the heritage building and bring it back into community use.
Richard Lewis, an Architect and Director at architectural and planning consultants, Hughes Architects, said the objective was to save the historic building from further decay by modernising and renovating it to a high standard for a range of community uses.
“There are just 48 out of 200 miners institute buildings left standing in Wales and Cefn Fforest is one of them. The trustees of the institute have worked hard to towards saving this important heritage asset and to bring it back into a fulfilling use for the local community,” he said.
Our expertise in conservation architecture will help restore the building
“We’re pleased to have been appointed to work with the group on detailed plans that will lead to its full restoration and transformation into a community asset.
“The building, known locally as the ‘stute’, was designed and built in an Art Deco style. It’s an amazing structure that is not just important to the local community, but to the built environment because of its architectural heritage.”
Hughes Architects was chosen by the trustees because of their experience in conservation architecture and work on heritage buildings, including Grade I and Grade II listed structures.
The practice has worked with the National Trust, Church in Wales, CADW and others on conservation projects. Out of 42,000 architects in the UK, Managing Director and Principal Architect, Doug Hughes, is just one of 176 Conservation Architects registered on RIBA’s Conservation Register.
Secretary of the Charity Trustees, Terence Evans, said: “This is the third major milestone for us, the first two being achieving charity status and securing the lease of the building. Whilst securing funding is not a given, the appointment of Hughes Architects will demonstrate to funders and individual doners that we have detailed plans and will show exactly what any money they give us will be spent on.
“For the last two years a dedicated group of volunteers have been working to clean up the building, make it watertight and repair some of the deterioration that has taken place in recent years. Having Hughes Architects on board will help us to build on that good work and take us on to the next level.”
The institute was completed in 1932 after local miners personally subscribed to its costs. It was commissioned in 1927 and the foundation stones were laid in 1930.
It will become a hub for health, wellbeing and community use
It was built to benefit the community for self-education, social welfare, and recreation. Since the demise of the UK coal industry buildings such as the institute have fallen into disrepair.
Hughes Architects are currently undertaking a comprehensive survey of the building and will then work on designs that suit the trustees vision for it future in the community. These include providing a centre of excellence for improving the health, wellbeing, and quality of life for the community.
A local fundraising campaign is underway to raise money for the restoration work, as well as applications for grant fundiung. More details about the project can be found at https://bit.ly/3IxYgIU .