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A Hidden Welsh Gem is Unearthed

February 12, 2016

Nestling in a beautiful corner of North East Wales, Glyn Wylfa house and its grounds in Chirk, Wrexham. Originally built in 1899, the Victorian house takes pride of place in its surroundings. The site is now brimming with life thanks to its new status as a thriving social enterprise which boasts a café, visitor centre and a wide range of business and community facilities.

But it could have been a very different story. In the 1960’s the house was bought by the local authority and was used as a council office and maintenance depot until 2005. Left empty, the building fell into disrepair and thieves pounced on the opportunity to strip the property of anything of value and in 2007 there were plans to demolish the house and sell the land.

Driven by their aim of breathing life back into the community and protecting their wonderful local heritage, a dedicated group of residents began campaigning to save the house from demolition.

In 2010, the organisation was registered as a Development Trust and the seven local residents who volunteered to form an interim management committee now make up the Glyn Wylfa Social Enterprise and Development Trust.

64 year old Brian Colley is one of the residents who stepped in to offer his expertise. “The building was in a sorry state with all the windows broken and rain coming in. It had been gutted by thieves and the frontage where the café is now located was completely overgrown and you couldn’t even see the building from the road.”

“In 2011 we secured our first victory with a development grant worth nearly £33,000 from the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) programme. In 2012, we received a second grant of over £600,000 to fully develop the project and transform it into a major tourist attraction and social enterprise.

“That was a real punch the air moment for all of us involved and we would never have got the funding for this type of project elsewhere. This was a fantastic partnership scheme and it was a really innovative way of securing funding to breathe life back into a redundant asset in our community.”

“Three years after the doors opened for business, the results are more than encouraging. Not only has the project brought the community together, it has also boosted the local economy and created much needed employment opportunities. Eleven people are employed in the café, four of them full time, and local young people are employed during weekends and holidays.

Glyn Wylfa - Glyn Wylfa Community Enterprise and Heritage Centre 1“90% of the office space has been rented out to local organisations, including the local constabulary following the closure of the police station. Residents now have the opportunity to have a weekly ‘cuppa with a copper’ to raise any concerns they may have about policing and crime in the area.

“We have breathed life back into a dilapidated site and we are providing local services and provision whilst bringing the community together.

“The community talk about it with pride and 35,000 people have visited us in the last year alone. We have exceeded all of our business plan forecasts for footfall, financial targets and gross profits. The money we make is being pumped back into further developing the facilities.”

Find out about funding available in Wales by visiting our website, following us on Twitter @BigLotteryWales or liking our Facebook page BigLotteryFundWales.

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