Tag Archives: Wales

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

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