The Welsh Government’s First Minister has described the project to restore Llanelli Railway Goods Shed for community use as an exciting plan for the future of Llanelli.
First Minister Carwyn Jones AM visited the Goods Shed site in Marsh Street to take part in a remembrance service to pay tribute to the 13 men from the Great Western Railway who died during World War One.
He also joined members of the Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust and development partners for a fact-finding tour of the shed building.
Planning permission has been granted for the renovation of the shed and the establishment of a community hub, heritage centre, arts facility and offices.
The First Minister said after his visit: “I think it has got wonderful potential. I’ve seen buildings like this refurbished and brought back into use as offices and different types of accommodation. Buildings like this are tremendous assets for the towns that they are in.
“I think it’s marvellous that the Trust is here to help develop this building and it’s going to be an exciting project for the future.”
Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli and Chair of the Goods Shed Trust, said: “We were all delighted to see the interest the First Minister expressed in the project to restore the Railway Goods Shed here in Llanelli. It’s an ambitious scheme, but one which is important for our town and the surrounding area.
“The project is currently priced at £2.6million and the Trust is working hard to secure funding for the project from a number of sources. We are confident that we have developed a sustainable plan which will save this Grade II Listed building, which is one of the last of its kind, and develop it for community use. We are developing a number of exciting partnerships with other organisations and business to help achieve our goals.”
Ms Griffith added: “One of the things we want to do with the shed is to explore the heritage of Llanelli’s great industrial history.
“We are developing innovative ways of doing that and working closely with local schools to make sure the children of Llanelli understand more about the heritage of their town.
“The remembrance service for former employees of the GWR is just one of the ways we have used to explore the heritage of Llanelli and increase awareness of Llanelli’s industrial history.”
The Rev Eldon Phillips, a trustee of the Goods Shed, conducted the remembrance service which saw temporary memorial plaques (to be replaced later with permanent memorials) unveiled at the Goods Shed.
The service was attended by ceremonial standard bearers from the Royal British Legion and associated veterans’ organisations.
Ms Griffith added: “It was a very solemn occasion, to mark the sad loss of 13 men who worked for the Great Western Railway Company here in Llanelli during World War One.”
The remembrance service was attended by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed Lt Col David Mathias, Deputy Llanelli Town Mayor Suzy Curry and representatives of the Railway Goods Shed Trust, including George Parker, who led the team who carried out the research into the war dead.
The congregation included representatives of the current site owners, Network Rail, and Llanelli Railway Station, school children from Ysgol Penrhos, Coedcae School, Ysgol Maes y Morfa and Bigyn School. They joined civic dignitaries and veterans in laying 13 wreaths at the Goods Shed – one for every name on the memorial.
The First Minister Carwyn Jones laid the first wreath and said: “It is a great honour to be with you all here today to remember all those brave young men who gave their lives all those years ago so we can stand here today and enjoy our freedom.”
Sam Hadley, senior public affairs manager for Network Rail Wales and Borders, said: “We were very proud to play a role in this fitting tribute to the railwaymen of Llanelli who lost their lives in the Great War.
“The First Minister clearly recognised the potential of this historic railway building and we will continue to work collaboratively with the Goods Shed Trust on their plans to restore and reopen the shed for community use.”
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The remembrance service at the shed.
Carwyn Jones addresses the congregation, flanked by Rev Eldon Phillips and Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli.
Bob Thomas, chairman of Llanelli Veterans’ Association, salutes the wreaths at the Goods Shed.
First Minister Carwyn Jones and Llanelli MP Nia Griffith with some of the schoolchildren who took part in the service.
First Minister Carwyn Jones and Llanelli MP Nia Griffith with Llanelli Veterans’ Association.
First Minister Carwyn Jones with members of the Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust.
First Minister Carwyn Jones with members of the Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust inside the main shed hall.