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£1.1m funding secured for Llantrisant's historic Guildhall

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Leader has welcomed the news that Llantrisant’s historic Guildhall is to be transformed into a state-of-the-art Visitors’ Centre, thanks to a £1.1m funding package.

Cllr Andrew Morgan and senior officers from the local authority have supported and endorsed the efforts of the Llantrisant Town Trust throughout its campaign to secure the much-needed investment.

Photograph by http://www.walesonline.co.uk

They threw their weight behind the important campaign, knowing the importance of celebrating the rich history and heritage of the Medieval town – considered a jewel in the crown of the county borough’s tourism offer – while also securing investment for the future.

The Freemen of Llantrisant have worked tirelessly for over six years to secure a funding package needed to begin an exciting project at the Guildhall to benefit the communities of Llantrisant and beyond.

The recent confirmation from Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw of a £33,000 grant from the Welsh Government’s Visit Wales programme was the final piece of a complex funding jigsaw, unlocking grants already awarded.

Funding already secured includes£768,500 from the the Heritage Lottery Fund and investment from Cadw, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Llantrisant Community Council, local businesses and individuals and Llantrisant Town Trust.

Professional advice and support has been lent throughout by the Council, including senior officials and those working in Regeneration, Heritage and Tourism.

As a result of the funding, the Guildhall will be transformed into a key element of the visitor experience to Llantrisant, which is already a strong tourist destination thanks to its unique mix of shops and eateries and rich, fascinating history and heritage.

The Council works closely across the county borough to enhance and introduce key tourism investment, including the introduction of a Heritage Trail in Llantrisant and works to open up the stunning public rights of way that surround the town.

 Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, Cllr Andrew Morgan said, “Rhondda Cynon Taf Council continues to provide a range of support to numerous groups and organisation in respect of development and regeneration projects.

 The project has the potential to become another valuable visitor attraction for Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The Regeneration and Heritage Services of the Council have been pleased to work with Llantrisant Town Trust on this important project which will certainly benefit Llantrisant and the wider community and we wish them the very best in taking this scheme forward to completion.”

Assembly Member Mick Antoniw said: “This is a tremendously exciting project and will add to the unique and vibrant visitor attractions our constituency already offers. 

“I congratulate the Trust on their success on making this ambitious project a reality and look forward to seeing the Guildhall fully restored splendour and playing a central role in the Llantrisant community.”

Work on restoring the Grade II listed building is due to commence in the summer with a proposed eight-month construction period.

When completed the Guildhall will form part of a major tourism boost aimed at bringing more visitors to South Wales as spearheaded by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

The Guildhall hall has been in the care of the Llantrisant Town Trust since 1889 who were given responsibility for its protection on behalf of the Freemen of the town, reflecting the town’s interesting history as a “free borough”, or corporate town.

The iconic structure was rebuilt in 1773 on medieval foundations dating from the 14th century and has been used as a court room, cells and even a school in its long life.

Once completed the new visitors’ centre will house state-of-the-art exhibition space, research and IT suite for genealogy studies, interactive exhibitions to stimulate visitor experiences for all age groups, historic artifacts, documentation and photographs celebrating Llantrisant’s glorious past.

With a rolling programme of events, workshops, learning opportunities and exhibitions, the Trust will create a major community hub bringing more visitors into the borough while also providing a first-class facility for people in the immediate area to benefit from.

The two-storey Guild Hall, which stands in the shadow of the Norman Castle on the crest of the  hill, is capable of permanently  housing the artifacts of the Trust.

These include the solid silver 1633 Town Mace which is older than that used in the House of Commons, the Loving Cup made by Aspreys of London, copies of 1424 Charter, the bound Freemans Rolls from 1654 to the present time along with a large archive of local history.

Some of the unique stories associated with Llantrisant include the legacy of the longbowmen and their role in the victory at the Battle of Crecy in 1346. Also as the place where King Edward II was imprisoned; the birthplace to a Lord Mayor of London and the world’s shortest man.

It is also known as the hometown of the notorious Dr William Price whose druidic ceremonies on a Llantrisant hilltop led to the passing of the Cremation Act in the UK over a century ago.
Martin Hooker from Llantrisant Town Trust said “This funding will allow us to now fully realise our exciting plans to develop the building into a significant heritage centre for the region. 

“The renovated Guildhall will not just be about the history of the Freemen. The story of Llantrisant is a fascinating one and at long last we have the ability to tell it in the most engaging and fascinating way.”

 

More information on the Guildhall Project:

 

  • The building will become a repository for digitised heritage assets, including both genealogy material held by the Trust, and material such as photographs and stories that community members will be invited to bring for scanning or recording to create a collection related to the town.
  • Volunteers will be trained in digitisation skills and heritage learning under a professionally qualified Activity and Volunteer Coordinator.
  • An exhibition will be created within the restored Guildhall to allow for the display of the ceremonial mace, charter and other chattels. This would allow these historic items to be displayed to the public for the first time since 1889.
  • As part of the project, the archives of Llantrisant's freemen will be digitised to create an online resource. Images of the town and oral histories will also be gathered as part of the creation of this resource.
  • Training will be provided for volunteers in digitisation skills and in facilitating learning under a qualified activities officer.
  • The project plans to work with local schools and colleges to make the Guildhall relevant and useful to the curriculum. Exhibition and activity spaces have been designed to accommodate school group sessions which are interactive and include role play.