Building Harlech Castle’s Visitors Centre

A scheme to build Harlech Castle’s new visitor centre is underway and is likely to take 14 months.

The castle, located in Gwynedd which is over 700 years old, will remain open during the works and the site’s events schedule will function as usual.

However, during construction there will be limited public car parking space adjacent to the castle with most of the existing car park being used as the contractor’s compound. Parking has been very limited throughout the works programme but new signs have been put in place to guide visitors to other car parks in the town.

Cadw is the Welsh Government’s historic environment service; as owners of the site they have appointed R. L. Davies & Son Ltd as contractors for the scheme. The contract was tendered and appointed to R L Davies in July 2013. CADW gained planning permission from Snowdonia National Park Authority in spring 2013.

The contractors arrived on site in September 2013 and began work demolishing the old hotel annex which used to house a tea room. The alterations continued inside the building and a new tea room and terrace has now been built and a brand new visitors centre.

Planning permission has also been gained for the construction of a new access way to the castles gatehouse. CADW and EPT Partnership worked together to design a state of the art bridge leading visitors from the new facilities across to the gatehouse.

The project has been funded by the Welsh Government with support from European Union Convergence Funds. The castle has stayed open throughout the works as they understand how important the castle is to trade in the town and so are trying to minimise disruption.

Deliveries of materials will take place outside normal business hours and we have made alternative arrangements for parking and access.

Premier Construction caught up with Stephen Jones, Project Manager with CADW, to find out more. He said:

We ran into problems on the new build part of the development and it has been delayed by six months. This was because we uncovered an old cemetery dating back to the 16th century which held 18 bodies, as this is a world heritage site. These remains had to be carefully dealt with and are now being analysed by archaeologists.

We are aiming for a BREEAM rating of Excellent so that is an aim for the development.”

CADW hope to increase visitor numbers up to 90,000 every year as a result of the new facilities. The purchase of the hotel and its car park by CADW cost the organization over £30 million.

Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones, added:

“I am pleased that Cadw, through the Heritage Tourism Project, has been able to secure a long-term solution for visitor access and interpretation improvements at Harlech Castle and give the town a welcome boost.

“The Heritage Tourism Project is a vitally important tool as a way of generating imaginative and creative solutions to Wales’ tourism needs.”

AAC Waterproofing Limited

AAC Waterproofing Limited is UK’s sole distributor of Prelasti; a waterproof EPDM membrane which is prefabricated in the firm’s Anglesey factory and delivered to site in one complete piece.

Prefabrication ensures work on site is minimised with all the inherent benefits this brings, from reduced labour requirements, to less time needed to waterproof projects.

With more than 25 years’ professional roofing experience, AAC Waterproofing has been the UK distributor of the Prelasti system for 20 years, throughout which they have supplied and installed a range of prestigious projects across the UK.

Recent works have included Ysgol Bro Dysynni primary school in Gwynedd and refurbishment

works at CaernarfonCastle, Beaumaris Church on Anglesey, and this year the completion of Harlech

Castle Visitor Centre for the Welsh heritage body, Cadw.

AAC Waterproofing Commercial Manager Michael Grant said:

 At Harlech we will manufacture and install a single ply membrane and sedum green roof system. Like the majority of our projects, a lot of the work will be done off site which will significantly reduce installation time on site.

AAC have worked on various projects for RL Davies over the years; Michael added:

We are delighted to have the opportunity once again to work for RL Davies. We enjoy the logistical and conservation challenges that many heritage sites like Harlech Visitor Centre present. Because Prelasti is easy to install and has excellent environmental qualities, it suits this kind of project.

Michael said that recently AAC Waterproofing gained theISO 9001 & 14001:

As a company we pride ourselves in maintaining the highest standards of quality; and so were extremely pleased about this achievement.”


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