Sioned Williams, Plaid Cymru MS for South Wales West has backed calls from the public for a museum in Neath to showcase its rich history.
Sioned Williams, whose Senedd office is in Neath Town Centre, said:
“Neath and its surrounding communities have a long, rich and colourful history. Few areas can boast of palaeolithic sites, a Roman fort, Norman castle, Cistercian abbey and Tudor mansion, as well as a wide range of industrial sites and links to key figures from each period.”
“On top of that we have a rich cultural and sporting history too, with acting legends, as well as football and rugby icons coming from the area. Any other town with such an expansive legacy would have a museum dedicated towards telling this story.”
Neath did have a museum, however following the renovation of the Gwyn Hall much of what was contained within its collection was placed in storage and is now no longer on public display.
The wider county borough is also served by Cefn Coed Colliery Museum (temporarily closed) the South Wales Miners Museum, and Margam Stones Museum. Previously there was also the 1940s Museum, the Welsh Area Fire Engine Restoration Society’s Museum of Fire, and the iconic Baked Bean Museum of Excellence.
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council are currently undertaking a review of all properties they own or lease, with the aim of reducing their footprint and saving on running and maintenance costs. The Council has also recently consulted on their draft Cultural Strategy, which outlines their vision of Neath Port Talbot becoming “a nationally recognised destination with a reputation for high quality and varied offer of arts, heritage and culture.”
Recently, a petition has been launched calling for the old Neath Library to be used to house a museum for the town and it has quickly gained hundreds of signatures.
Sioned Williams MS added:
“I back the call to use the old Neath Library as a Museum 100%, and have written to Neath Port Talbot Council to ask what their plans are for the old library, and to voice my support for a museum. In their response, they told me that the future use of the old museum has not yet been decided.
“I believe Neath and the surrounding area would benefit greatly from a town centre museum, which could tell the remarkable and unique history of Neath to both residents and visitors, and I urge the council to use the centrally located and historic library building to do so. If that building is not suitable, then I hope it is retained for community usage and that a suitable venue is identified in the near future.”