A special event was held on Thursday, 6th June to officially open the new Edwardian style Great Western heritage Station at the Vale of Rheidol Railway which is Phase 1 of the £2.2 million project named ‘Wales to the World’.
Special guests and businesses involved in the redevelopment were invited to attend the grand opening where they were entertained by the local secondary school brass band and refreshments before the official speeches.
Lord Elis-Thomas, Welsh Government Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport cut the ribbon to officially open the new Aberystwyth terminus.
Guests were then treated with a trip up the valley on the train to Devil’s Bridge where they were greeted by the local primary school choir.
Lunch was served at the Hafod Hotel before guests departed back to Aberystwyth.
A fantastic day was had by everyone even when the weather did it’s best to try and spoil the speeches and ceremony, but the sun shone for the rest of the day.
The project is a funding collaboration between the Vale of Rheidol Railway and Visit Wales utilising £1.6 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the EU funded TAD Destination Program and the TMF Regeneration Fund. The railway is providing 35% of the revenue to support the project whilst the remaining amount will come directly from grant funding.
Robert Gambrill, CEO of The Vale of Rheidol Railway said “The Vale of Rheidol is very pleased to have completed its first phase of the TAD program and wishes to praise the hard work of the Visit Wales team in bringing our project to life.
Everyone involved is very proud of the achievements realised over this winter, a credit to everyone involved. We were very pleased to see everyone at the opening and sharing our lovely new station with them.”
The Deputy Minister, said: “The experience here in Aberystwyth is truly fantastic, it celebrates the history of this railway which is extremely important to Wales and our culture; it shows off the spectacular scenery on offer here in Wales and allows its visitors to learn about and watch the vintage steam locomotives which were built back in the 1920s in action.
“Our aim through the Tourism Attractor Destination programme is to focus efforts and investment on key projects in each region so we have a real impact on Wales’ profile in this globally competitive market, this represents a huge funding boost for the sector, which will make a real difference to the products and experiences that Wales has to offer.
“The aim is for these destinations to develop as attractors and give compelling reasons for people to visit Wales or stay in Wales for a holiday. By attracting visitors to these key sites, the surrounding area will also benefit from further business investment and deliver key outcomes in terms of employment and regeneration.”
The next phase of the project will see the old Aberystwyth terminus site re-developed to include a new booking office and carriage storage shed which will be built to allow the priceless collection of historic railway carriages to be stored in a protected environment and aid their long term conservation.
Once the carriage shed is built then phase 3 can begin which will see the old GWR building converted into a museum and multi-purpose facility. The whole project has a target completion date in March 2021.