Carmarthen Velodrome first opened on Easter Monday in 1900 and quickly became a hub for cycling in West Wales, attracting thousands of spectators and professional competitors from all over the United Kingdom.
Recent years, however, had seen the popularity of the velodrome wain, in part due to the need for significant improvements to be made to the track. The result was a major redevelopment of the velodrome at an approximate cost of £600,000 that was unveiled to the public in October 2017. Several years of planning went into the redevelopment and this has been rewarded with a hugely positive feedback from the public as well as significant industry recognition. The redevelopment of the velodrome included a complete replacement of the track and the upgrading of floodlights to ensure the track could be used during the winter.
The project was successful at the recent One Voice Wales Innovative Practice National Awards in the ‘Best Heritage Initiative’ category. The work has also been nominated for 3 RICS Awards in the ‘Building Conservation’, ‘Community Benefit’ and ‘Infrastructure’ categories.
The scope of the redevelopment extended beyond simply replacing the track and its successful completion is a testament to the dedication of project team led by Carmarthen Town Council. This team included Carl Morgan, a local specialist conservation surveyor who was key to managing the specialist aspects of the work. The Clerk of Carmarthen Town Council Alun Harries spoke to Premier Construction about the work:
“The project team did a lot of testing work in the run up to the construction phase. The concrete was built on a mound of earth originally so we did laser testing of the sub surface over a period of 12 months purely to establish what exactly we had underneath the concrete that was there.
“We looked at all sorts of different surfaces that would be appropriate for the cycling community to use. We had various concrete and other synthetic surface samples placed at two locations on the track where cyclists came and tested them in all sorts of weather conditions.
“We then went out to tender before deciding what the end product would look like in terms of the surface. This process resulted in us extracting and replacing the old concrete surface with a brand new concrete cycling track rather than repair the old concrete and apply a synthetic coating to it – and this allowed GD Harries & Son the appointed contractor to design and texturise the concrete to suit the needs of the cycling community. We spoke to a lot of concrete specialists from different parts of the country and eventually came up with a surface that was determined to be the right one. The cycling they have done over the winter has vindicated that decision really.”
In addition to the challenges of providing a suitable surface to ride on, the project involved creating a safety fence around the perimeter of the track and a new safety or ‘blue zone’ around the entire inside of the track. Without these two additional safety features it would not have been possible to bring the Velodrome up to the standards required from British Cycling. J&G Fencing Ltd worked closely with Carl Morgan and his team to help with this aspect of the work. The design stipulated that the new posts had to match the position of the existing listed post and rail fence all panels had to be bespoke for each section of the fence adding to the complexity of the work.
The redeveloped Velodrome was re-opened during a public ceremony on Tuesday evening, 24th October, and was attended by hundreds of people. Members of the local Carmarthen based cycling club Towy Riders were the first to test the track.
J&G Fencing Ltd
J&G Fencing Ltd enjoyed the challenges thrown up by this one off project. Working closely with Carl Morgan and his team from Carmarthen Town and County Councils J&G Fencing Ltd were able to help with the design process, while Carl worked closely with the team during the manufacturing stages to ensure the requirements of the cycling body were met.
Tony Price, J&G Fencing Ltd, commented:
“We manufactured the posts in-house at our factory in Bristol and the handrail was bent and formed to the correct shape in the Midlands. Because the design stipulated that the new posts had to match the position of the existing listed post and rail fence, all panels had to be bespoke for each section of the fence adding to the complexity.
“All of these processes were undertaken before the new surface had been laid making the information from Carl critical.”
“During the installation, G D Harries were a pleasure to work with making sure areas were ready to allow us to complete in time for the opening event. This was our first project working with G D Harries and we look forward to working with them again in the future.
“The Velodrome project was a challenge for all parties involved and together we have produced a venue that should provide enjoyment for years to come.”