THE SECOND phase of works to redevelop the old YMCA building in Merthyr Tydfil is nearly finished.
The council has confirmed that phase two of the renovation of the old YMCA building in Pontmorlais is now almost complete.
The four-storey former YMCA, which the council said is a prominent building “of international significance” and a landmark at the northern end of the town centre, was created by leading Welsh architect Sir Percy Thomas in 1911.
The Grade II Listed building, which has been derelict for more than two decades, has now been stabilised and made completely watertight.
Back in March 2022, before works started, an emergency road closure was put in place to allow contractors to undertake structural works on the site after a survey found that a small area at the front of the building needed to be made more secure.
Works during phase two have included timber lintels exchanged for new concrete lintels, the rebuilding of the north section of the building with timber floors and walls to support the new temporary roof, the partial rebuilds of retaining walls, ground anchors installed to secure loose and weak external ground and anchors installed to strengthen the external brick walls.
The works have also seen the existing temporary roof replaced with a new longer-lasting temporary roof, new brick work to the top of the building, terracotta repairs to preserve the existing terracotta blocks, the building completely repointed and treated to reduce the risk of vegetation regrowing, a new metal railing fence installed to match the existing wall memorial and the promenade reinstated for public use.
Phase one was completed in 2014 as part of the Townscape Heritage Initiative, a programme with the aim of bringing historic, derelict buildings in Pontmorlais back into use, funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund and CADW.
When this phase is done, with contractors due to be off-site by the end of January 2024, the project will move towards phase three, which will include looking again at the future use of the building followed by the completion of the works once a suitable use is agreed.
The redevelopment is being funded to the tune of £8.6m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Enterprise Programme, Welsh Government’s Building for the Future and Transforming Towns programmes and the council has previously mentioned plans to turn it into a hub for economic and social activity with 10 separate letting units.
Michelle Symonds, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “It’s great to see the developments at the YMCA building.
“John Weaver Contractors has not only stabilised the building but has also transformed the look of it. It’s now not only much safer, but far more aesthetically pleasing, bringing the beautiful structure closer to its former glory.
“The community aspect of this development has remained key, with 90% of the materials used for this project coming from the local supply chain.
“Local people have also gained employment opportunities, including five placements of people who were previously unemployed, one placement from Merthyr Tydfil Institute for the Blind and seven local apprentices. Stonework repairs to the neighbouring nursing home were also carried out.
“We are now looking forward to the completion of the renovation and a decision on its future use.”
Joan Tamlyn, business development and CSR manager for John Weaver (Contractors) Ltd, said: “We are proud on what community engagement and social value has been offered during our time on the YMCA refurbishment for Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.
“We have been able to engage with over 200 children in YGG Santes Merthyr Tydfil, a local primary school close to the project, offer eight work placements on-site, as well as having all our in-house apprentices gain valuable carpentry, stonework, brickwork and heritage skills on this scheme.
“It’s been important for us to give something back whilst working in the area and have been able to donate funds to the local homeless charity Loaves and Fishes and carry out community activities which have included litter picks and assisting the neighbouring nursing home with stonework repairs, donating labour free of charge.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with the council on this scheme and in the local community.”