Page last updated at 06:43 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 07:43 UK

3.4m grant secures house revamp

Sir Roger Jones, Carl Lucas and Dan Clayton-Jones outside Llanelly House
The Heritage Lottery Fund said a 'nationally significant' landmark would be brought back into community use

An historic Grade I listed building has finally secured its future with a £3.4m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant.

Plans to restore the 18th Century Llanelly House in Llanelli have been in the pipeline for a decade.

The derelict townhouse was featured in the first BBC2 Restoration series in 2003 and although losing the final, the £4.9m project earned a high profile.

It is hoped the Georgian building will be ready to welcome its first visitors by January 2012.

Carmarthenshire Heritage Regeneration Trust (CHRT) has been awarded the money, providing a large chunk of the funding needed to create a community heritage centre.

The award was made provisionally a year ago but the final decision has now been taken.

Artist impression of Llanelly House
An artist's impression of how the house will look after its renovation

The trust hopes the house, in the heart of Llanelli town centre, will attract 30,000 visitors in its first year.

There will be themed events, exhibitions and guided tours and school children will be able to experience 18th Century-style food and the work of the servants and the lifestyle of the families who lived there.

The grant will pay for extensive restoration inside and outside the house, and facilities will include exhibition spaces, a cafe-restaurant and community areas, which will include training and meeting rooms.

Local groups, including the Llanelli Historical Society, Llanelli Community Heritage, Llanelli Access Group, and the Welsh Polish Association, have been supporting the project and will use its facilities.

LLANELLY HOUSE HISTORY
The house was the latest contemporary design when it was built in 1714, during the reign of George I, replacing an existing house
It was commissioned by Sir Thomas Stepney, of Llanelli's leading family and a local MP and sat in large grounds
Leading Methodist John Wesley stayed with the Stepney family several times when visiting the town
By the start of the 19th Century, the house had fallen into disrepair. It was converted into a mix of residential and commercial use
It was bought by Llanelli Town Council in 1998, in need of restoration
The house is said to be haunted by a pregnant servant girl, who had killed herself
The project to renovate missed out on a £3.4m first prize on the BBC2 Restoration programme to Manchester's Victoria Baths in 2003

The restoration is part of the town centre regeneration, which includes the £1.5m pedestrianisation of Bridge Street and a planned refurbishment of Llanelli Library opposite.

Dan Clayton-Jones, chair of the HLF Committee for Wales and trustee for Wales, said: "The public showed enormous support for Llanelly House during the BBC Restoration series, voting it the winner of the Wales stage, so we're delighted that lottery funding will save this nationally significant landmark and bring it back into community use.

"Restoring this wonderful house and opening its doors for local residents and visitors to experience, learn and enjoy will help boost further regeneration in the area."

Chair of the CHRT, Sir Roger Jones added: "This is the result of close working between a range of partners - the town council, Carmarthenshire County Council and Trinity University College - all of whom have given their utmost to make this dream come true."

Llanelli Town council leader Carl Lucas called it an "historic day in the life of a truly historic Llanelli building".

He said final preparations could now be completed so work could "start in earnest, and the sooner the better".



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