On 12th September 2018, ERIH-UK held a joint meeting at Rhondda Heritage Park with The Valleys that Changed the World regional route project. The meeting was attended by over 40 delegates representing a range of sites, attractions and organisations.
The programme included the following presentations:
David Anderson, Director General of National Museums Wales, spoke about how his organisation is an instrument for social action and explained how museums can be “culture in action and that it is the uses of culture for learning, creativity and pleasure that defines the quality of a museum and a society”. David gave examples including a Dementia Friendly initiative at Big Pit National Coal Museum (ERIH Anchor Point); a community Garden Project at National Waterfront Museum (ERIH Anchor Point), and the involvement of unemployed people as museum volunteers at NMW sites.
Carole-Anne Davies and Geraint Talfan Davies of the Design Commission for Wales gave a presentation about the Crucible Project in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. This is an exciting project, still in its early stages, to consider how Cyfarthfa Castle (ERIH member site), its extended landscape and built heritage might become an international quality visitor destination and experience. It is considering how these central assets could be connected to other assets throughout Merthyr and beyond to catalyse regeneration and tourism, maximise impact and return real public benefit.
Joanna Turska, Historic England’s Industrial Heritage Support Officer spoke about proposals to establish regional Industrial Heritage Networks in England and the potential benefits they will bring in terms of partnership working, improving capacity and best practice, and project development. The networks will provide a platform for peer to peer support and the intention is that they will be self-sufficient and run by and for the network members themselves.
These presentations were followed by updates from ERIH by Jonathan Lloyd, ERIH Coordinator for UK and Ireland and from The Valleys that Changed the World project by Ruth Taylor-Davies, Project Coordinator.
Following lunch, delegates enjoyed an excellent guided tour of the site, led by a former coal miner.
Rhondda Heritage Park is the site of the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery and is a testament to the coal mining history of the Rhondda Valleys, which until the end of the 20th century was one of the most important coal mining areas in the world - in an area only 16 miles long, Rhondda alone had over 53 working collieries at one time.
Jonathan Lloyd, 13 September 2018