WORKS to improve the visitor experience at Blaenavon Ironworks have been given the green light - including shining a new light on its historic railway tracks reports Nick Hartland.

Cadw, which oversees the World Heritage site, wants to excavate and illuminate the buried tracks to help tell the site’s industrial story.

The heritage organisation has been granted planning permission to carry out a series of improvements and resurfacing work to the lower section of the ironworks.

The plans were put forward following concerns about access for people with wheelchairs and prams, alongside

drainage concerns and comments that the tracks were not being properly interpreted for visitors.

The excavations will help preserve the tracks from further deterioration as well as adding to the visitor experience by resetting and lighting them with LED lights.

The iconic balance tower used to lift wagons will also be illuminated with projection lighting, allowing a wide range of effects to support events there.

It is planned that the space could be leased for outdoor community events such as markets, theatrical and music performances and food and drink events.

Last September, sparks flew again at the historic ironworks when hundreds took part after nightfall in a ‘multi-platform theatrical’ space mission there.

Tin Shed Theatre Co’s Rocket Launch Blaenavon was a community outreach production that reached for the stars by following the launch of a space cadet into outer space in search of the source of a strange message beamed to Earth labelled ‘The Blip’.

It started with a procession of hundreds of townspeople to the ironworks and used digital, site specific, documentary/mockumentary film and immersive storytelling to tell the tale.

As part of the new development, the site’s car park will be resurfaced and reintroduced into the main part of the ironworks by removing a wire fence, and replacing it with bollards which can be temporarily removed to increase the size of the outdoor events space.

Parking spaces will be provided in a location away from the heritage setting, but within an “acceptable distance” to the visitor centre, according to a design and access statement.

The plans also include installing new interpretation panels at the ironworks and an electric vehicle charging point, as well as works to improve drainage.

A Torfaen council planning report recommending approval, which was granted, said: “The scheme proposes a range of relatively minor works which would improve both the visitor interpretation of the site and surfacing in the lower section of the site.”