Aberdulais Falls is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) owned by National Trust. It has 400 year old history of industrial use back to 184 – copper ore from Cornwall was smelted. Moved to a Fulling Mill (cloth manufacturing) then to a Corn Mill. They ceased making corn in 1820 and moved to Tin plate iron works in 1830 which remained until 1897. After this it fell into decay. Only Danygraig House, stable & former school for tinplate workers children remained. Eventually it all fell into disrepair and the National Trust took over in 1981 – the site at this time was derelict, overgrown & dangerous. Public access to the falls before NT ownership was denied. Now anyone can visit and if you are touring in Welsh Coast Campervans and are looking for places to park nearby take a look at https://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/motorhomes/articles/general/parking-your-motorhome-in-wales
There were some key areas for conservation and each are steeped in their own history.
Water power was initial catalyst for original industrial development. A new waterwheel was installed where the original one had been.
Provided an important visitor attraction & chance to use site to generate its own electricity – significant savings in costs.
A water turbine was installed. The NT could earn extra income from selling electricity back to the National Grid.
A Water-power project was completed in 1993 at a cost of £850,000. During these works, site interpretation was completed so that the public could have a better understanding of how the site would have worked.
Whilst water-power systems were installed a fish pass was incorporated to enable salmon to return to their spawning grounds.
The was conscious decision not to reconstruct the archaeological features. Rebuilding was only undertaken for structural reasons or to facilitate visitor understanding. The Interpretation’s purpose was to make – “use of external text panels with artists impressions of the way the tinplate works would have appeared.” A Fuller interpretation was displayed in the exhibition this included the whole history of the site and a description of the experience of working in tinplate works.
Abedulais & the Local Community
Locals ideas and values about the site differed. Better use of the facilities was sought such as
- Hosting lectures
- Keep fit groups
It was also decied that the Falls be developed to provide woodland walks & nature trails. Fishing & bird watching are now encouraged along with school trips.
One issue the site has is that the Falls are in close proximity to a housing estate which causes some conflicts such as fly-tipping, vandalism & unauthorised access.
Quality of the visitor experience depends on:
- Signposting to attraction
- Car parking
- Toilet facilities
- Overall interpretation
In the past there was no parking at site, but the NT has leased part of a nearby hotel’s car park. There were however complaints about over use. So now the NT have recently created a dedicated NT car park. Camper Vans are welcome.