A £1.1million transformation of Llantrisant’s historic Guildhall into a heritage and visitors’ centre has enjoyed the seal of approval from politicians.
Pontypridd MP Owen Smith and Mick Antoniw AM joined Deputy Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Cllr Maureen Webber for a tour of the site.
Now in its third month of development, the 14th century court house is being restored to its Georgian period splendour when it was rebuilt in 1773.
The building will become a major tourist attraction and community and education facility that tells the remarkable history of Llantrisant.
Owen Smith, MP for Pontypridd said: “As the local MP and resident of Llantrisant I’m just so pleased to see the Guildhall being restored to its former glory.
“The Freemen, the county council and our community council all deserve congratulations for their hard work in delivering the project that will benefit us all in the town.”
Owned by the Freemen of Llantrisant and managed by the Llantrisant Town Trust, the Guildhall was once the powerhouse of the community and administered the rights and regulations of its Charter from 1346.
During the late 19th century it largely became redundant and has since been used as a court room, nursery school, library, cornmarket, gymnasium and even a nonconformist chapel.
With the exception of monthly meetings being held along with the annual Court Leet ceremony of enrolling new Freeman, the building was empty and in serious decline.
Following six years of tireless fundraising, Llantrisant Town Trust are delivering a package of wide scale improvements to the building, including an extension for disability access and the reinstatement of many of its Georgian features.
Mick Antoniw, Assembly Member for Pontypridd said: “I am delighted to have played a part in making this project a reality. The completed Guildhall project will be a tremendous asset, not only to the local community, but to protecting and promoting Welsh heritage.
“The Guildhall, together with the nearby Royal Mint Experience and other local heritage sites, form the basis of an attractive visitor proposition, which could help boost the local economy."
The restoration is being carried out by the Town Trust’s contractors Bright Futures Consortium. Their project manager Damian Williams of Timeless Trowel gave the group a fascinating guided tour of the building and pointed out its many historic features along with the intricacies of their conservation work to restore it.
The eight-month programme is due for completion in June 2017 when Llantrisant welcomes around 10,000 to the town for its Beating the Bounds ceremony which only occurs every seven years.
Deputy Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, Councillor Maureen Webber, said: “It was a real pleasure to visit the Guildhall to see the excellent progress being made with the Heritage Lottery Funded project.
“I was particularly impressed with the knowledge and enthusiasm shown by the Contractor on the visit - they are clearly very passionate about the building and the work taking place.
“With its rich heritage and the recent opening of the Royal Mint Visitor Centre, the development of the Guildhall is another welcome addition, further putting Llantrisant and Taff Ely on the map as a visitor destination.”
The new heritage and visitors’ centre will house state-of-the-art exhibition space, research and IT suite for genealogy studies, historic artefacts, documentation and photographs.
With a rolling programme of events, workshops and exhibitions, the Guildhall will create a major community hub bringing more visitors into the county borough while also providing a first-class facility for people in the immediate area.
Llantrisant Guildhall Restoration Project is being made possible due to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cadw, Garfield Weston Foundation, Welsh Church Act Fund, Visit Wales, Llantrisant Community Council, Llantrisant Town Trust and public donations.
Professional support has been given by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, which also granted listed building consent for the renovation.
For further details visit www.llantrisant.net