Eight years ago, members of the Church started the journey to save St Elvan's Church for all the people who live and work in Aberdare and who love this Christian place and it's style of Worship. On February
News Release 2016
Lottery cash boost for church known as the ‘Cathedral of the Valleys’
A landmark Valleys church earmarked for an innovative £800,000 make-over has won an important investment boost.
St Elvan’s Church in Aberdare has been awarded a grant of £55,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for its development plans which centre on the creation of a community heritage space to provide a more welcoming facility for all who live in the Cynon Valley and beyond.
The award from the HLF marks the first stage of funding won by the ambitious project which aims to transform the building which towers as an iconic landmark above the town.
The plans include creating space for a cafe area inside the church, an arts and craft area, an exhibition area, additional rooms on mezzanine levels for community use and the provision of interactive history facilities.
Some of the extra space will be created by the removal of the pews which will also create scope for theatre groups, concerts and major town celebrations.
It is envisaged that the cafe would be located in the green aisle with a mezzanine floor above containing a room for hire for community groups. The exhibition space will be created in the north aisle.
St Michael’s Chapel, which has a memorial to the fallen of World War One and World War Two, will offer interactive history facilities. Audio facilities will also be located inside the church for people to listen to the town’s history as told through its beautiful stained glass windows and artefacts.
Over the last three years the church has staged during December, week-long daily performances of ‘Christmas the Story’ involving many community groups. In the summer months the church opens to the public on Saturday mornings from 11am to 2pm. News Release continued.
The Vicar of Aberdare the Revd Robert Davies said, “The Heritage Lottery Fund is providing our Valley and its community with the exciting prospect of a development that will offer a positive future for all who have need of the kind of facilities our project will provide.
“The scheme will give a further boost to the town and compliment Rhondda Cynon Taff’s regeneration programme. Many people have supported our bid and we thank them all but Ann Clwyd MP, Dr Mitchell, Head of St John's High School, and Christine Chapman AM deserve a particular mention.”
Richard Bellamy, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales said, “St Elvan’s Church has a rich and varied history stretching back over many centuries and the project will provide new opportunities for local people to get involved in the project. We have awarded a first round pass in recognition of the project’s potential to engage both locals and visitors and the benefits it could bring to the local area.”
About the Heritage Lottery Fund:
HLF is the UK’s largest dedicated funder of heritage:
• This year it will invest £430million on a broad range of projects - from museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions
• HLF has supported more than 38000 projects allocating over £6.6 billion across the UK since the establishment of the National Lottery in 1994
• In Wales HLF has invested over £323 million and supported over 2,300 projects in local communities all over the country.
• Find more information at www.hlf.org.uk and follow us on Twitter @HLFCymru.
The story 2016... This year we continued our out- reach work for the project into the comunity, with meetings early in the year.
Plans have been drawn up and displayed at the Back of S. Elvans showing the layout of the Heritage exhibition.
New contacts with Museum goups such as, St Fagans Textile group, Swansea University's department of stainglass, Conservation Wales, and Glamorgan Archives have added to our own historical archive. We are indebted also to private individuals from all over the world for there interest in the WW1 memorial and for adding to our archives of social history.
Also on display at the back of S Elvan's are the Architectural layouts showing the proposed changes to the interior. These were (and can) be seen by the public.
They were shown to the Diocesan Advisory committee, The Victorian Society and Cadw.
Archbishop Barry also popped in to give us his thumbs up which was much appreciated.
We received permission from the Vice Chancellor a week before christmas that all the plans had been approved and that therefore the project would be able to move on into 2017.
Many surveys of the exterior and interior structure of the Church have taken place, but there is still alot to be sorted out espeicially with electrics , heating and plumbing ! Permission for work on the path down to the town is also pending.
Further finances must also be applied for and this takes time.
ALL in all the steering group are optimistic that the 'hands on' building work will start early in 2018. It doen't seem that far away.............
2017..........This year has kept the steering group on a knife edge. We had to overcome dissappointments which ensued from Grant bodies whose money were diverted elsewhere due to Brexit. This led us into difficulties with deadlines, that had to be reset again and again. The delay towards our 'goal' was not veiwed lightly and was very draining as each deadline came and went with little progress. Applications for 'match funding' put us once again amongst fierce competition from other worthy projects. It also gave us further opportunities to check and double check business and budget plans . As time has gone on, the committee engaged with partnerships and projects with the Cynon Valley Museum, Aberdare Community school and St John Baptist School and Maesynnon Special school. We also increased our volunteers from the community and started a gardening volunteer group to clear St Elvan's grounds and to prepare for a garden project in the future. Our other outreach projects have continued and are gathering pace. This year more people have visited St Elvan's on Open Saturdays throughout the summer espeicially visitors from America, Canada and Australia. They are seeking information about ancestors who originally came from Aberdare and perhaps worshipped or got married in St Johns or St Elvans. The Steering group have continued learning from different contacts such as Conservation Wales, The Costume and Textile Society, forging links with St Fagins Museum Cardiff . Links continue with Valley Ambassadors and TVTRTW . Conferences for the advancement of Valley's Tourism and Aberdare's Business and Tourism Association are very important forums for understanding both local and national trends.
2018 OCTOBER WORK STARTS ON THE EXTERIOR OF THE BUILDING.