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Heritage tours are big hit with Swansea history hunters

(Pic: Friends of Hafod Morfa Copperworks page on Facebook)

A KEY chapter in the story of Swansea’s powerful industrial heritage was a big hit with the public over the weekend.

Volunteers who promote the story of the former Hafod Morfa Copperworks offered informative tours of two historic buildings on the site – and all 180 places were quickly snapped up.

Swansea Council supported the event – organised by the Friends of Hafod Morfa Copperworks – by opening up the Musgrave and Vivian engine houses it helped save in recent years by making them watertight and secure.

Normally, they’re kept closed and safe as they await further development as part of the council’s £1bn regeneration of the city, including the copperworks site.

The weekend event was formally opened by council leader Rob Stewart.

Cllr Stewart said: “It was great to see so many people visit the engine houses; it reaffirmed that we’re right to save some of the city’s most historic buildings for future generations.

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“The Friends play a vital role in promoting the heritage of the copperworks and it was good to work with them on this event.

“We plan to bring the engine houses into use in future years – we’ve secured investment in them to help develop a heritage visitor attraction and cafe.

“Already our work to help Penderyn Distillery create a new base is helping to regenerate the former copperworks site.”

Friends group chairman Tom Henderson said: “Our weekend event was the only time we’ve been able to take members of the public into the newly preserved engine houses – both are icons of the area’s copper-making story.

“It was exciting to welcome so many people there.”

The event was part of the Cadw Open Doors scheme and saw guests take hour-long tours on Saturday and Sunday, guided by members of the Friends group.

The Lower Swansea Valley became the world leading centre for copper smelting in the 18th century. The copperworks area is of international importance, becoming the world’s largest such plant in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century.

Swansea Council is leading its regeneration with the help of expertise from partners and funding from sources such as the UK Government’s Levelling Up programme.

The Musgrave engine house – uniquely – still contains its engine and remains attached to the plate rolling mill it drove.

Normally at present, the only way to access this building is via a ladder. For this event, however, the friends group worked with Penderyn Distillery and Rowecord Total Access to put in place scaffolding steps which allowed access.

Friends group chairman Mr Henderson said: “We thank both businesses for their expertise and funding for this event.”

For details of future copperworks events please email the Friends: [email protected]