THE Llanelli Railway Goods Shed project is being used to train local apprentices and offer Onsite work experience opportunities.

Llanelli MP, Nia Griffiths, has given her seal of approval on the work being undertaken to bring the formerly derelict Grade II listed Llanelli Railway Goods Shed back into use.

Phase one of the project is nearing completion, involving the restoration and conversion of a two-story building at the western end of the shed into a community-based flexible office and meeting space.

Work to restore the historic building has come about thanks to Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust, a volunteer group set up in 2011 with the aim of preserving Llanelli’s industrial heritage.

The project’s overall vision is to transform the shed into a hub for cultural, heritage, community and enterprise activities. The aim is to create a dynamic, welcoming space where Llanelli’s diverse community can use the building in a variety of ways and explore Llanelli’s industrial and cultural heritage.

The restoration work is being undertaken by Ammanford-based construction contractor TRJ Ltd. The construction company is working in partnership with Coleg Sir Gar and Cyfle Building Skills to create apprentice opportunities on the project. It is hoped this partnership will provide many unique training opportunities as well as generating some much-needed employment opportunities in the local area.

The project is also being used as part of the South West Wales Onsite Construction Hub – funded by CITB and coordinated by Cyfle Building Skills – which aims to give individuals the opportunity to have real-life practical work experience in the construction industry with a placement with a local construction firm.

During her visit, Nia Griffiths MP inspected and admired the restoration work completed by the apprentices and trainees working on the project. Ms Griffiths also presented three Onsite Hub trainees with a toolkit worth £150, which is awarded to all Onsite Hub trainees upon successful completion of their work placement.

Two of the three Onsite Hub trainees – carpenter Morgan Richards and plasterer Kieran Jones-Rees – have already gone on to gain full-time apprenticeships with the Cyfle Shared Apprenticeship Scheme and are placed onsite with TRJ for site experience. A third, Ciaran Goddard-Howe, is currently studying a full-time bricklaying course at Coleg Sir Gar in Ammanford.

The Llanelli Railway Goods Shed was originally built in 1875 with at least two subsequent phases of construction in the early part of the 20th Century. It once played a vital role in the development of Llanelli as a major industrial centre but ceased operation in 1966 and became derelict. Thankfully for the renovation project, it has remained structurally sound and is one of the few remaining buildings of its kind left in the UK.

As with the building’s original construction, the renovation project will be completed in several phases. The first phase, set to be completed in the spring, will see the renovation of the old office block into a flexible working space for local businesses, Local Authority employees, and the wider community.

Future phases of the project will include restoration of the main shed, exterior canopy, and surrounding land. The main shed is set to become a café and educational heritage site to engage the community in the area’s industrial past. How the exterior canopy and surrounding land are to be utilised has yet to be determined and are reliant on future funding.

However, it is proposed that they could be used by the community as a space to hold local produce markets and create communal sensory gardens. It is also suggested that raised beds could be built on the surrounding land to provide local people with the opportunity to grow their own plants and vegetables.

Nia Griffiths, MP for Llanelli, said:

“It’s really exciting to see everything coming together on the project. It has funding for the next phase, which will include the café and heritage area within the large shed, and the trust is actively seeking funding to continue the area’s renovation into the outside space.

“I must congratulate everyone who has worked on the project, particularly those trainees and apprentices who have worked so hard to get the Goods Shed to where it is today – on the verge of becoming a viable, useful working space for the local community.”

Owain Jones, Director at TRJ Ltd, said:

“It’s a great privilege to be involved on such a significant building project for Llanelli’s history. The trustees of the Goods Shed Trust have really put their heart and soul into the project. I must also compliment the trainees and apprentices who have worked very hard on the restoration. They have worked very diligently under the tutelage of our senior staff – in many cases starting out as apprentices themselves. I hope they have learned a lot from the experience and will take that knowledge with them into their future careers.”

Anthony Rees, Regional Manager at Cyfle Building Skills, said:

“It has been great to support the resurrection of this historic Llanelli landmark. We are very happy to provide opportunity on the project with our Shared Apprenticeship Scheme and our Onsite Hub work experience programme, which has given some young people, the opportunity to come into the world of work.

“These kinds of opportunities are integral to giving people the chance to acquire more practical skills within the construction sector, and this is vital to fill the skills gap for today and for the near future.”