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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 16:23 GMT
Lottery aid for heritage centre
Brian Hall
Brian Hall at Stepaside Heritage Centre
More than 500,000 is to be spent restoring a 19th Century industrial complex in west Wales.

The 28-acre site in Pleasant Valley, near Stepaside, once housed a thriving ironworks and colliery.

But production ceased in the 1930s and many of the buildings were left to fall into ruins.

Now the site is being developed into a tourism and heritage centre by Pembrokeshire Council.

The authority, which took ownership of the land in 1996, has received funding for the project from sources including Objective One, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Welsh monuments agency Cadw and the Welsh Development Agency.

It is envisaged that the work which will be carried out will further add to the enjoyment and experience of this beautiful part of Pembrokeshire
Brian Hall

Work will begin in the summer on consolidating many of the buildings on the site, all of which have ancient monument status.

Interpretation boards and trails will also be added, along with improved visitor access.

Council cabinet member with responsibility for environment and transportation, Brian Hall, said the park was an important part of Pembrokeshire's industrial heritage.

"It is an exciting project," he said.

"Since the 1930s, there has been no production on the site, and the industrial remains have been left by previous owners to become derelict.

"The heritage park is a popular place with local people and visitors alike.

"It is envisaged that the work which will be carried out will further add to the enjoyment and experience of this beautiful part of Pembrokeshire," he added.

Coal mining

Phase One of the project, which comprised landscaping and tree-planting, was completed two years ago.

Research by Cambia Archaeology was also carried out at the time - the team will now be invited back to continue their studies.

The Welsh archaeological trust has already produced stone-by-stone drawings of the major buildings.

Coal mining in the Saundersfoot area may have begun as early as the 14th Century, and grew to become one of the main industries in the locality by the 16th Century.

By the end of the 18th Century, it is likely that ironstone was also being worked commercially.

The growing demand for these minerals led to the development of Saundersfoot harbour, and the presence of coal and iron ore undoubtedly led to the development of the Stepaside ironworks.

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