Rhondda Heritage Park
The Rhondda Heritage Park based at the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery, Trehafod, is one of the top heritage and cultural visitor attractions in South Wales and provides a fun and interesting day out for individuals, groups, school children and students.
Facilities include the 'Shift in Time' Guided Tour, Black Gold Multi Media Exhibition, Artefacts Museum, Energy Zone Adventure Playground, Conference Facilities, an Art Gallery and a Restaurant. Rhondda Heritage Park is also accessible for disabled visitors - with assistance. Reserved car parking, unisex toilets, ramps and lifts to first floor. AV Loops and multilingual headsets are also available if required.
Development commenced in 1987 after the then Secretary of State for Wales, the Right Honourable Peter Walker MP, included the Park in his three year programme for tackling the problems which existed in the South Wales Valleys - ‘A Programme for the People’. In that programme the Welsh Office committed approximately £2.2 million to the project and this was matched by the organising partnership producing a capital development budget of just over £4.4 million to create the first phase of the overall scheme which in 1986 had been estimated at around £9 million. Other funds have been received from the Countryside Council, the European Community, Industry and Business.
In July 1989 the Visitor Centre opened to the public once the stores building of the Lewis Merthyr colliery, the Visitor Centre provides a unique setting for the temporary exhibition galleries, gift shop and restaurant. When the Centre opened it was only introduced to provide a taste of things to come for the local and regional communities, but as more than 50% of its visitors came from outside Wales, the Visitor Centre became a permanent feature at the Park.
During 1989 and 1990, work continued on the Lewis Merthyr site to create the first stage of ‘Black Gold - the Story of Coal’, in the refurbished and restored pithead buildings. This opened in May 1991 and attracted over 35,000 visitors in its first year of operation. ‘Black Gold’ uses state of the art audio-visual and exhibition techniques to tell the story of people who lived and worked in the Rhondda.
In May 1993, the next stage of development at the Park opened with the action-packed children’s play area, ‘Trefor & Bertie’s Energy Zone’. Exploring the energy cycle in a unique, fun and educational way The Energy Zone provides a new dimension at the Park.
Further development has been concentrated at Lewis Merthyr site and the extension to the Visitor Centre, offering improved facilities for visitors opened in the Spring of 1994. The extended Visitor Centre includes and indoor village street, artefact exhibition galleries, the temporary exhibition gallery, restaurant and gift shop.
And finally the latest stage of the development, the new underground tour, A Shift in Time opened to the public in July 1994. A Shift in Time includes a cage ride to ‘Pit Bottom’, guided tour through the underground roadways of the Lewis Merthyr colliery pre-mechanisation and the working coalface. To complete the underground tour there is an exiting finale - a mysterious and unforgettable route back to the surface.
For more information see: http://www.rhonddaheritagepark.com/