North West Wales

£3.3m for Caernarfon's slate quayside regeneration

The Island Site, Caernarfon

Ambitious plans to regenerate the quayside of a Gwynedd town are set to be backed by a cash injection of £3.3m.

The Island Site project hopes to turn derelict buildings on Caernarfon's slate quay into a new artisan quarter.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has earmarked the funding, with its chairwoman Baroness Kay Andrews visiting on Friday.

One scheme already taking shape has seen a forge lit for the first time in a decade at an old ironworks.

The plan is to turn the former Brunswick works into a community forge, with people learning blacksmith skills and creating an arts business selling metalwork.

The works were sited on the quay for a century before moving to an industrial site on the edge of town.

They most famously produced the ironwork used to decorate the coffin of the Unknown Soldier buried at Westminster Abbey in 1920 but its old buildings have fallen into complete disrepair.

Image copyright Getty Images/Hulton Archive

"It's all about getting people involved in regeneration, bring the arts alive by doing something together as a community," said Ceri Phillips, art associate with the initiative Stamp, which is helping co-ordinate the Island Forge project.

"The slate quay used to be where the hustle and bustle was in the town. There used to be the sound of working - of grafting - and it's nice to see that coming back into the area and that people are becoming involved and the community is involved in it."

Image caption Some images of the old works on display at the forge now

But the forge is just part of the wider scheme, which is being driven by the town's Harbour Trust.

"Local food and drink producers, micro-brewers, artisan bakers, baristas and artists are now helping shape modern north Wales in the way iron workers and slate miners once did - and we want to play our part in making sure they have a regenerated, modern setting in which to do it," said its chairman, Ioan Thomas.

Baroness Andrews added: "This ambitious project for a national landmark site is a perfect example of how our past can become an economic driver for today, creating new jobs, more visitors and a real sense of pride for the people who call Caernarfon home."

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