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BBC Wales's Nick Palit reports
"The protesters handed in a letter of intent"
 real 56k

BBC Wales's Melanie Doel reports
"Once a proud part of Wales's industrial landscape"
 real 56k

Monday, 25 June, 2001, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
Unique domes demolition begins
Dunlop Domes, Brynmawr
The factory's domes have been praised by architects
Demolition work is under way at the Welsh factory which has been credited with inspiring the design of the Sydney Opera House - despite protests from campaigners.

Wrecking crews began bringing down the unique domes from the former Dunlop Semtex rubber factory in Brynmawr, south Wales, on Monday, to be replaced by a 35m development.

Dunlop Domes, Brynmawr
The decaying factory is still an imposing place
But protesters, who began gathering at the site last week, are still hoping for a last minute reprieve for the site.

Campaign spokesman Clive Caleb said: "We are serving papers to see if we can get the delay we want.

"All we are asking for is a delay so that we can get experts in there to tell us if it is safe and sound and if it is we want the Blaenau Gwent authorities and the Assembly to throw their weight behind it."

The decaying building's nine unusual features are credited as the architectural inspiration for the famous Australian opera house.

Tourist attraction

The campaigners, who number a group of artists, believe the site could become a tourist attraction, which could benefit from last year's decision to give nearby Blaenavon World Heritage Status.

The factory was the first post-war building in the UK to be listed as an historic monument.

It is nearly 20 years since the factory was closed, allowing the building to fall in to disrepair.

Many believe that its poor condition has blighted attempts to attract developers into the town.

New jobs

Now, the local authority is ready to grant permission for a scheme to transform the site with a housing, leisure and commercial development.

The council hopes the project will create around 475 jobs.

Cardiff-based contractor Brunswick Construction will use a long-armed mechanical grab, similar to the machine used to pull down Cardiff Arms Park.

Artists opposed to the demolition said the factory shell could be converted in to a modern art gallery like London's Tate Modern.

They believe it is the most important building in Wales and claim Brynmawr is throwing away its heritage.

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