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Station Quarter North, Southampton

This week saw the delivery and installation of the first bespoke cast concrete units to site. Wilson Massie of Balfour Beatty Living Places has let me use his images taken during the works to install. Balfour Beatty Services are delivering and installing all the project on site.

The units are manufactured by CCP Ltd – Cornish Concrete Products, nr Truro.

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

 

Station Quarter North, Southampton

Yesterday, Tuesday 17th March saw the first of the Type C cast benches arrive on site to be crane-lifted into place at Station Quarter North.

Balfour Beatty Living Places – Services Division are doing a great job in regard to the installation and delivery of the whole project on site.

‘Outside Wyndham Court a great deal of the footpath and landscaping is down and this gives a glimpse of how the scheme is going to look. Block paving of the public car park has started, trees are in and yesterday the first of the new bespoke stone benches was crane lifted into place.’  Taken from the Southampton Station Quarter update bulletin, 18th March 2015, Balfour Beatty Living Places.

Wyndham Place as seen from Wyndham Court showing Southampton Central Station Quarter Regeneration project. Image: Wilson Massie, Balfour Beatty Living Places.

Wyndham Place as seen from Wyndham Court showing Southampton Central Station Quarter Regeneration project. Image: Wilson Massie, Balfour Beatty Living Places.

Wyndham Place, Southampton seen from Commercial Road looking west showing Southampton Central Station Quarter Regeneration project. Bespoke Cast Concrete benches during installation. Image: Matt Dyer, Senior Project Engineer, Balfour Beatty Living Places - Services Division.

Wyndham Place, Southampton seen from Commercial Road looking west showing Southampton Central Station Quarter Regeneration project. Bespoke Cast Concrete benches during installation. Image: Matt Dyer, Senior Project Engineer, Balfour Beatty Living Places – Services Division.

Bespoke benches during installation. Unfortunately, one of the 6 units has a lighter finish than the others. This can be remedied post installation on site by the manufacturer CPP Ltd.

Station Quarter North, Southampton

On Thursday 12th March I flew down to Newquay to visit CCP Ltd – Cornish Concrete Products –  to review production on the first set of bespoke benches for Southampton Station Quarter.  I was meeting up with Simon Taylor, Urban Design Manager – Southampton Highways Partnership, Balfour Beatty Living Places, who is the Design Manager for the Station Quarter project. Simon met me at Newquay Airport & we drove down to Bissoe to CCP’s manufacturing plant.

Gatwick Airport to Newquay with Flybe - around 55mins - not bad !

Gatwick Airport to Newquay with Flybe – around 55mins – not bad !

I left Ramsgate on High Speed 1 for London, St Pancras, then by Tube to Victoria to pick up the Gatwick Express & Gatwick to Newquay by Twin Prop and from there by car to Bissoe – easy ! A great day – but one delay along the way could have been a disaster – fortunately it was brilliant.

Great views of Southampton and the Isle of Wight on the flight down.  Image: Christopher Tipping

Great views of Southampton and the Isle of Wight on the flight down.
Image: Christopher Tipping

The units below are the first to be manufactured and are, as such the sample test for the project. We will be looking to iron out any issues presenting at this stage and develop a methodology for ensuring quality control through the production period. The Type C unit – is only one of several bespoke profiles being developed – with each profile there are accompanying bespoke ends and specials to be made.

Southampton Station Quarter - Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter – Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

This is a single unit, part of a six unit seating set for the landscape works. The seating forms part of the interpretation and public art created for the project. The units as seen here have yet to have the etching treatment to expose the surface aggregates, so appear quite light in colour. The finished colour and aggregate mix reflect the multi blend granite paving used throughout the site and is informed by the geology of the site – alluvial gravels – which were at one time quarried nearby in the area now occupied by the Civic Centre. These gravels would have formed the beach of the River Test Estuary, which was – until 175 years ago – to be found where Blechynden Terrace now stands.

Southampton Station Quarter - concrete samples developed with Cornish Concrete Products Ltd for bespoke landscape works. Image: Matt Dyer, Balfour Beatty Services.

Southampton Station Quarter – concrete samples developed with Cornish Concrete Products Ltd for bespoke landscape works. Image: Matt Dyer, Balfour Beatty Services.

We have selected the Blackhill Aggregate – White Cement – Heavy Etch sample to work with –

Southampton Station Quarter - preferred sample developed with Cornish Concrete Products Ltd for bespoke landscape works. Image: Matt Dyer, Balfour Beatty Services

Southampton Station Quarter – preferred sample developed with Cornish Concrete Products Ltd for bespoke landscape works. Image: Matt Dyer, Balfour Beatty Services

Southampton Station Quarter - Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter – Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter - Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units. Bespoke return end unit, showing inverted fibreglass mould.

Southampton Station Quarter – Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units. Bespoke return end unit, showing inverted fibreglass mould.

Southampton Station Quarter - Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter – Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter - Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter – Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

The composite image below, illustrate the evolution of the Type C Bench. The basic section is added to with bespoke and varying ‘ends’, with some units being further cast with lighting recesses.

Type C Bespoke Cast Concrete Bench for Southampton Station Quarter. Drawings by CCP Ltd

Type C Bespoke Cast Concrete Bench for Southampton Station Quarter. Drawings by CCP Ltd

Southampton Station Quarter, Type C Cast Concrete Bench development. Image: Christopher Tipping

Southampton Station Quarter, Type C Cast Concrete Bench development. Image: Christopher Tipping

Bespoke timber mould for the Type C bench fabricated by CCP Ltd. Image: Christopher Tipping

Bespoke timber mould for the Type C bench fabricated by CCP Ltd. Image: Christopher Tipping

Bespoke timber mould for the Type C bench fabricated by CCP Ltd. Image: Christopher Tipping

Bespoke timber mould for the Type C bench fabricated by CCP Ltd. Image: Christopher Tipping

I particularly like to see the timber joinery and craftsmanship which goes into the moulds. No-one else really sees this – and the general public generally have no idea of the work that goes on behind the scenes to achieve the objects they see in the public realm.

 

 

 

Ynysfach Engine House

12th February 2015 – Meeting at the restored Ynysfach Engine House.  

The Engine House was one of a pair of Engine Houses on the Ynysfach Ironworks site. ‘The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd undertook investigations at Merthyr Tydfil College, on the site of the former Ynysfach Ironworks, which began in August 2011 and were completed by January 2012. Archaeologists from the Trust excavated and recorded structures belonging to the former ironworks, which had survived unexpectedly well, buried underneath the college buildings’. 

To see the amazing animated 3D reconstruction of the site. produced as part of the interpretation for the project, press on this link.  A permanent exhibition of this project can be seen at The College, Merthyr Tydfil, which is built upon this site.

 

The restored Ynysfach Engine House, Merthyr Tydfil. Image: Christopher Tipping

The restored Ynysfach Engine House, Merthyr Tydfil. Image: Christopher Tipping

I met withSteve Brewer & Ceinwen Statter , members of the Merthyr Tydfil Historical Society, who operate out of the recently restored Engine House of the former Ynysfach Iron Works.   Mary Owen – Author of book on the New Rectory of Merthyr Tydfil, was mentioned as someone who may have some  insight on Swan Street history. Clive Thomas, the author of a history of Cae-Draw School, was also mentioned. The Merthyr Tydfil Historical Society also publish the Merthyr Historian, which is a 26 Volume history of the town from every source possible. Published from 1976 to the present, it has some engaging and surprising stories, records & contributory essays and images from many individuals. A great resource document ! A set of these publications is available in the Merthyr Tydfil Library.

 

Ynysfach Ironworks by Penry Williams, 1819. http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

Ynysfach Ironworks by Penry Williams, 1819.
http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

The site of the former Ironworks is now mostly occupied by The College, Merthyr Tydfil, the original ironworks being demolished and lost before and during the 1960’s.

The ruins of Ynysfach Iron Works prior to demolition.  http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

The ruins of Ynysfach Iron Works prior to demolition.
http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

Alan George, a local historian who’s website ‘Old Merthyr Tydfil is a brilliant repository of old images of the town and a fantastic resource, also attended the meeting.

We discussed the site specific history of the new Bus Station site on Swan Street and references to a building called ‘The Rectory’, which is show on old OS Maps, but is not referred to in any written text I can find. Alan and his colleagues are assisting in researching this. The wider area around Swan Street is also rich in history and community, which needs to be addressed in this contextual study.

The College Merthyr Tydfil as seen from the new Rover Taff Gyratory Link Road. Image: Christopher Tipping

The College Merthyr Tydfil as seen from the new Rover Taff Gyratory Link Road. Image: Christopher Tipping

The College Merthy Tydfil. Image: Christopher Tipping

The College Merthy Tydfil. Image: Christopher Tipping

The new College site – although first developed in the 1960’s – is historically relevant to the Link Bridge project, as not only was this the site of the Ynysfach Ironworks, part of the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, but  the public realm and highway in front of the College and in-between it and the River Taff, was the site of the Glamorganshire Canal.  There was a Lock Gate here, called Parliament Lock.  An Archaeological Report was made by the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust (Contracts Division) to support the Archaeological Watching Brief on Parliament Lock during pipe laying works in October 1995. The Report was prepared for Ove Arup & Partners who carried out the works.The report is really interesting. – click on Parliament Lock, above –

The Glamorganshire Canal and Parliament Lock, Merthyr Tydfil. Image: http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

The Glamorganshire Canal and Parliament Lock, Merthyr Tydfil. Image: http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

Parliament Lock Gate and House is in the bottom right foreground of this image of the Glamorganshire Canal. The bridge, seen at the middle far right of this image, is the Ynysgau Iron Bridge across the River Taff, built in 1799 by Watkin George for the Cyfarthfa Ironworks.

Glamorganshire Canal & Parliament Lock. Detail of OS Public Health Map of 1875 - showing the weirs crossing the Taff. The Canal & Lock are highlighted.  Reproduced from the 1876 Ordnance Survey Map. Collection of Merthyr Tydfil CBC Libraries.

Glamorganshire Canal & Parliament Lock. Detail of OS Public Health Map of 1875 – showing the weirs crossing the Taff. The Canal & Lock are highlighted.
Reproduced from the 1876 Ordnance Survey Map. Collection of Merthyr Tydfil CBC Libraries.

 

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

12th February 2015, Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Cyfarthfa Castle was built in 1825 by William Crawshay. It cost £30,000 and was home to the Crawshay’s until 1889. Merthyr Tydfil Corporation bought it in 1909, and it was turned into a school and museum.

I had a very friendly and engaging visit to the Castle Museum, the former home of the Crawshay Family who owned the Cyfarthfa Ironworks.

Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil. Image: Christopher Tipping

Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil. Image: Christopher Tipping

I met with Kelly Powell – acting Museums Officer, Benjamin Price – Education and Interpretation Officer, Chris Parry – Community Officer and Michelle Lewis – Community Officer.

Images taken from a Cabinet of Iron samples manufactured by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, on display at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery. Images by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Images taken from a Cabinet of Iron samples manufactured by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, on display at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery. Images by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Images taken from a Cabinet of Iron samples manufactured by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, on display at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery. Images by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Images taken from a Cabinet of Iron samples manufactured by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, on display at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery. Images by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Image taken from a Cabinet of Iron & steel samples manufactured by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, on display at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery. Images by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Image taken from a Cabinet of Iron & steel samples manufactured by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, on display at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery. Images by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Image: A Cabinet of Iron samples manufactured by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, on display at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery. Images by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Image: A Cabinet of Iron samples manufactured by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, on display at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery. Images by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Image taken from a Cabinet of Iron & steel samples manufactured by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, on display at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery. Image by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Image taken from a Cabinet of Iron & steel samples manufactured by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, on display at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery. Image by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Samples such as these by the Cyfarthfa Ironworks,  were made for no other reason that to illustrate and show off the skills of the workers in manipulating iron and steel. Many, if not all of these samples were bent cold !

On 27th June 1912, King George V and Queen Mary visited Dowlais Ironworks. A spectactular steel archway – the ‘Goat Mill Arch’, had been erected for the occasion, & decorated with many locally made manufactured steel components, very similar to, if not the same as those on display in the Castle Museum.

Image of the Royal Visit to Dowlais in 1912 and the Goat Mill Arch by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Image of the Royal Visit to Dowlais in 1912 and the Goat Mill Arch by permission of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Gallery

Image: Detail of the Royal Visit to Dowlais in 1912 and the steel Goat Mill Arch erected to mark the occasion.  Image by permission of http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

Image: Detail of the Royal Visit to Dowlais in 1912 and the steel Goat Mill Arch erected to mark the occasion. Image by permission of http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

During the same Royal Visit, a triumphant arch of locally mined coal had been erected. It had formed an entrance into Dowlais House, the former home of ironmaster John Josiah Guest and Lady Charlotte Guest, translator of the Mabinogion.

The Coal Arch - erected for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1912. Image by permission of http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

The Coal Arch – erected for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1912. Image by permission of http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

The Coal Arch was still standing in 1956, when a decision was made to demolish the structure. Image by permission of http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

The Coal Arch was still standing in 1956, when a decision was made to demolish the structure. Image by permission of http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/

2015-02-12 14.03.14

Meeting Dr Chris Evans, Professor of History, University of South Wales

12th February 2015 – Treforest, South Wales – the birthplace of SIR TOM JONES !

Treforest Station Railway Footbridge. Image: Christopher Tipping

Treforest Station Railway Footbridge. Image: Christopher Tipping

Treforest Station Railway Footbridge. Image: Christopher Tipping

Treforest Station Railway Footbridge. Image: Christopher Tipping

I met with Dr Chris Evans today to discuss the history of iron production in Merthyr Tydfil and the legacy and impact of this on contemporary Merthyr Tydfil and its aspirations & current regeneration programme. This is in light of contextual research I am doing in regard to the new Bus Station project and Link bridge feasibility study.

Chris is a Professor of History at the University of South Wales, on the Treforest Campus.

We met at Ty Crawshay – Francis Crawshay’s House in Trefforest, now a Museum and Gallery – a part of the University Campus.

Ty Crawshay, Treforest, once the home of Francis Crawshay and now part of the University of South Wales.

Ty Crawshay, Treforest, once the home of Francis Crawshay and now part of the University of South Wales.

We discussed a number of things including:

 Francis Crawshay  – an eccentric member of the Crawshays of Cyfarthfa, who had portraits of his workers painted which was, at the time highly unusual, giving a remarkable insight into the lives of ordinary working people. He was something of a Druidic character, building stone circles and mounds.

 The Upland Landscape of the Brecon Beacons  & its importance in both the past and the future of Merthyr Tydfil. Merthyr is a product of this upland landscape & could make much more of this relationship.

The Taff Trail and how visitors could experience & relate to  Merthyr  as a gateway to the Brecons.

The Creativity and Flair of the great engineers and innovators who were central to the Industrial Revolution in Merthyr not being sufficiently celebrated. Watkin George, William Edwards, William Williams worked at the cutting edge of technology and innovation. Even factory buildings were classically proportioned. Merthyr was a hub of creative knowledge, that became not only world famous, but exported this knowledge all over the world – even sending expertise to set up new Ironworks in Russia for example. The town generated and maintained international contacts, becoming an international crossroads of industry.

Elemental Processes of ironworking – extremely labour intensive. The ability to standardize products and replicate to order under these conditions was testament to the degree of control over processes these manufactories had. Confidence in their technology and how to utilise it successfully

Impact on landscape – early extraction methods included damming rivers and streams and then breaking the dam to allow the raging waters to scour the top soils and expose the iron ore beds. Cinder Tips, & Slag Heaps

Power the control and management of water was at the heart of Merthyrs advancement. Transport was the other – Canals, Tramways, Railways, Roads, River.

Power – Napoleonic Economy & Rise to WealthAtlantic Trade – Iron and Slaves – Dr Chris Evans Research

Anthony Bacon – Founder of Cyfarthfa Iron Works

Ynysgau Iron Bridge lost due to River widening / flood mitigation scheme in the 1960’s.

Merthyr Tydfil Bus Station and Link Bridge

9th February 2015

I have now made two visits to Merthyr Tydfil & am preparing to go up again this week for two days to meet with the project team and Capita, who will be delivering the Bus Station. Capita recently completed the The River Taff Central Link and Bridge –  a new road system that connects Merthyr Learning Quarter at the existing Penry Street Bridge, through Avenue De Clichy, across the new road bridge located south of Swan Street, and via the new road in front of the College. The new bridge is a major landmark for the town.

The town centre is fascinating & has some wonderful architecture. Just remember to look up above the shop fronts to see the architectural detail! Key anchor buildings are still extant & a good deal of regeneration is breathing new life into these buildings and by default, back into the town centre. The RedHouse, an arts and cultural centre – in the former Town Hall –  is a singular example of great regeneration practice & takes in the adjoining Penderyn Square – As part of the Heritage Quarter development, a new civic square outside the renovated Old Town Hall will be a key focal point for the cultural identity of Merthyr Tydfil.  The square will be a vibrant environment that will host events across the year celebrating the heritage of the town”. 

I have done a lot of walking and am talking to whoever I can to enlighten me on the legacy and heritage of the town, but also about its aspiration and spirit for the future.

I have also been asked to contribute to a feasibility study commissioned by Merthyr Tydfil CBC, to look into replacing the existing footbridge link from the College, to St Tydfil’s Shopping Centre with a new footbridge which also extends to the site of the new Bus Station on Swan Street. The project is being delivered by Mott MacDonald  & Knight Architects.  This pedestrian connectivity is a critical element in unifying the accessibility of trains, buses  and pedestrian routes in the town. It serves also to improve and build upon the visual impact a new footbridge may have as a landmark attraction and destination along the Taff Trail, bringing more tourists and visitors to the town centre.

The site of the new Bus Station on Swan Street. Image: Christoher Tipping

The site of the new Bus Station on Swan Street. Image: Christoher Tipping

This site, on the corner of Swan Street and Avenue de Clichy was until recently, the home of the Hollies Health Centre, which has now moved to state of the art new facilities in the Keir Hardie Health Park at Cyfarthfa. The old buildings have now  been demolished. The old Police Station – right & centre of picture, is also in process of demolition to make way for the Bus Station. The back of the St Tydfil’s Shopping Centre can be see on the left of this image.

The new Bus Station site as seen from the new River Taff Road bridge. Image: Christopher Tipping

The new Bus Station site as seen from the new River Taff Road bridge. Image: Christopher Tipping

360 Panoramic image of the Swan Street site. Residential flats and two schools lie to the south of the site & a sensitive response is imperative. Image: Christopher Tipping

360 Panoramic image of the Swan Street site. Residential flats and two schools lie to the south of the site & a sensitive response is imperative. Image: Christopher Tipping

The current Bus Station off Castle Street. Image: Christopher Tipping

The current Bus Station off Castle Street. Image: Christopher Tipping

This image looks grim, but to be fair, the weather on the day was dreadful ! If you turned around, the views out to the surrounding hills are great, even on a horrible day. Castle Street now leads onto the new River Taff Central Link Road at one end and the Redhouse at the other – both, great examples of the power of regeneration schemes in the town to make credible changes.

The College, Merthyr Tydfil, which opened on September 2nd 2013. Image: Christopher Tipping

The College, Merthyr Tydfil, which opened on September 2nd 2013. Image: Christopher Tipping

Panoramic image of the College at Merthyr Tydfil showing the new road and extensive public realm. The River Taff footbridge is at the far right of this image. Image: Christopher Tipping

Panoramic image of the College at Merthyr Tydfil showing the new road and extensive public realm. The River Taff footbridge is at the far right of this image. Image: Christopher Tipping

This area was the site of the former Ynysfach Ironworks, owned and run by the Crawshay Family of Cyfarthfa Ironworks. The new road seen running through the site  above almost follows the path of the former Glamorganshire Canal, which was fully opennd in 1794 and declined progressively between 1898 & 1951. Much of the Canal route is now buried beneath the A470 Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil Truck Rd.

The view upstream from the River Taff Footbridge. towards the Civic Centre.  Image: Christopher Tipping

The view upstream from the River Taff Footbridge. towards the Civic Centre. Image: Christopher Tipping

Where the River Taff meanders to the left in the above image and turns the corner, was the site of the Ynysgau Iron Bridge, one of the first Cast Iron Bridges built anywhere in the world, started in 1799 & completed in 1800. The bridge was designed and built by Watkins George, a brilliant engineer working for Richard Crawshay of Cyfarthfa Ironworks, known as the Iron King. The bridge was constructed for the workforce to cross the Taff to reach the Ironworks. It was dismantled in 1963 and is now stored by Merthyr Tydfil CBC.

Sections and details of the Ynysgau Iron Bridge, dismantled in 1963 and now stored by Merthyr Tydfil CBC. Image: Christopher Tipping

Sections and details of the Ynysgau Iron Bridge, dismantled in 1963 and now stored by Merthyr Tydfil CBC. Image: Christopher Tipping

Communications and advances in transport were critical factors behind the expansion of Iron production during the Industrial Revolution.  Natural water supplies found in the Taff and its tributaries & streams provided the source of power, but this had to be managed and controlled. Innovation and technological advances were the powerhouses.

Merthyr Tydfil may  no  longer claim to be the Iron Capitol of the world, but transport and innovation continues to be the catalyst for change in the area.

The River Taff footbridge crosses just below the weir from the College to St Tydfils Shopping Centre. Image: Christopher Tipping

The River Taff footbridge crosses just below the weir from the College to St Tydfils Shopping Centre. Image: Christopher Tipping

The footbridge was built in the early 1970's but wasn't always covered. The bridge spans not only the River Taff, but the Avenue de Clichy & Wilkinson's Carpark . Image: Christopher Tipping

The footbridge was built in the early 1970’s but wasn’t always covered. The bridge spans not only the River Taff, but the Avenue de Clichy & Wilkinson’s Carpark . Image: Christopher Tipping

Looking downstream from the footbridge the views change between retail carpark, highway and river. Image: Christopher Tipping

Looking downstream from the footbridge the views change between retail carpark, highway and river. Image: Christopher Tipping

This distinct zoning of views as one crosses the bridge could also change considerable during the year. It’s a great feature from where to see the town  – its downfall being that it isn’t particularly good to look at ! A new footbridge would have the potential to exploit this fact too and make the most of the opportunities presented.

 

 

 

 

 

Merthyr Tydfil Bus Station

Great news to end 2014 & a promising start to 2015 !

On 22nd December 2014 I was appointed as the artist to the team for the new bus station at Merthyr Tydfil.

“The appointed artist will work as part of a multi disciplinary design team to look for opportunities to contribute to the design of the bus station both in terms of function and aesthetics. The development of a new Central Bus Station for Merthyr Tydfil is one of the last major regeneration projects for the heart of the town centre.

Through extensive public consultation held in June 2014, the majority of the public recognised the need to relocate the bus station; however concerns were raised over anti-social behaviour, accessibility and close proximity to a residential area. It is critical that the design addresses these concerns whilst looking for a contemporary design that has a unique appearance which is respectful to the surrounding area.

This is an excellent opportunity for an artist to make a real contribution to the design of an important part of the town’s transport infrastructure and a critical building within the townscape. The appointed artist will be expected to bring a new perspective to the design team crossing traditional skills boundaries and linking different design disciplines.” 

Helen Kell, Vibrant and Viable Places Project Manager, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.  Helen will be liaising closely with me, alongside the Public Arts Officer for the project.

I will be collaborating and working alongside Capita Symonds, Mott MacDonald, Arts Council Wales & One Voice, a disability action group based in Merthyr Tydfil as well as local authority agencies and local planning officers.

The brief and scope is wide ranging at this stage, but is focussed on the use of research led contextual studies with which to influence the design process and eventual outcome of the project.

I will be starting work on the project in January 2015 & look forward to working & collaborating with the people of Merthyr Tydfil as soon as possible.

This blog will be made open to everyone involved in the project to review, comment upon & contribute to the programme and research.

 

Notes on Merthyr Tydfil by Christopher Tipping

Notes on Merthyr Tydfil by Christopher Tipping