Sir Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail, met with the Llanelli Goods Shed Trust to discuss the potential transfer of the historic goods shed to the group for community use.
The Grade II listed facility, situated alongside the west Wales main line to the east of Llanelli station, has been out of operation since 1966. The construction of the goods shed dates back to the 1870s when it was built to meet the increase in demand of the tinplate industries in the area.
As the need for traditional goods sheds at stations diminished, many similar facilities were abandoned and demolished during 1960s and 70s. Therefore, Llanelli is believed to be unique in south Wales in retaining its goods shed – probably due to its size, location and facilities.
Chaired by Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli, the Goods Shed Trust was set up in 2011 with the objective of restoring the shed for the benefit of the local community.
Network Rail has been working closely with the Goods Shed Trust for a number of years as they source funding to enable the transfer of the shed. The Goods Shed Trust’s future plans for the shed include a community arts centre, flexible performance space and a training and skills hub.
Network Rail is also working with the trust to lease the decommissioned Llanelli west signal box, which is also Grade II listed, as a community space to showcase their plans for the shed.
Sir Peter Hendy CBE, chair of Network Rail, said: ‘I’m always keen to explore and support projects like this which see communities play an active role in preserving these iconic structures, for future generations to be able to enjoy and learn more about the history of their local railways.
‘It was a positive visit which saw some productive discussions with the trust about the future of the goods shed.’
Nia Griffith MP commented: ‘It was a huge privilege to welcome Sir Peter Hendy to Llanelli, and he immediately grasped both the potential for the renovated Goods Shed to give a great boost to the community, and to provide opportunities including training, jobs and apprenticeships, as well the huge challenge and costs involved in bringing the Goods Shed back into use.’
Richard Roper, secretary of the Goods Shed Trust added: ‘It was helpful to have some of our strategic partners there, Cllr Mair Stephens from Carmarthenshire County Council, Anthony Rees from Cyfle shared apprenticeship scheme and Tracy Pike MBE from CYCA as we will need all the support we can get from these and our other partners to make the most of this project. We are looking forward to completing our negotiations with Network Rail in the near future, and making a start on site.’