Grant Award Success! 

Great news! Calon Lan Centre has recently been awarded £44,530 for the renovation of the grounds surrounding Calon Lan Centre. These grounds bear great local and national historical significance yet have required significant work in order to sustain such a natural environment. Now, thanks to the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Grant Scheme, we are now able to restore much of the beauty of the landscape.

This includes work to reinforce trees, gravestones and monuments, Japanese knotweed control, and professional landscaping including natural meandering pathways for optimum community and visitor enjoyment. The project will really help us achieve our main objective which is always to preserve and promote the legacies of the Calon Lan anthem, its author Daniel James, and the history of the Welsh non-conformist movement that spurred its creation.

How will our project directly benefit the Mynyddbach area?

The project will be based entirely within the grounds of the Calon Lan Centre, SA5 7HT and will benefit our local community greatly. We believe it may also restore and reignite a sense of community pride. In a time of reducing community gathering land space, we intend for our grounds to be a significant open space where our diverse local community can gather and enjoy. Calon Lan Centre fully supports biodiversity development and there is bountiful opportunity for this project to protect and nurture the diverse wildlife that is already found in the environment.

As well as benefiting the local community, Calon Lan Centre very much hopes to attract new tourism groups with connections and/or interest in Daniel James, the Welsh freedom movement, or the Calon Lan anthem through choral or literary events and the ongoing heritage project.

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Daniel James, at which point a new local literary festival is planned, which will attract large number of visitors from global Welsh societies and impact future visitor and tourism numbers to the heritage centre.

This landscaping project will be administered and overseen by an appointed project administrator to ensure project milestones are met. The project, as with previous projects, will aim to recruit approximately 20 volunteers for garden work, meal preparation for volunteers, and overall support for the project’s work

The centre’s business plan also intends to welcome and educate local and national schools on the heritage and legacy of the Calon Lan Centre, for which the newly renovated grounds will play an integral part.

What will be the Environmental Enhancements

Specifically, the project aims to bring two acres of previously neglected, run down Mynyddbach grounds and cemetery back into community use by reinforcing unstable trees, checking memorials for safety and undertaking works to make safe, clearing the monuments of scrub, hogweed and Japanese knotweed, and creating natural meandering pathways around monuments. Within the wider landscape, the project aims to take steps to nurture the centre’s biological and green diversity and encourage local volunteers to grow new flora and fauna for the long-term management of the landscaped grounds, artefacts and pathways, bringing the grounds back into the wider community and public use, and caring for the many species of local wildlife in this naturally rich green environment.

The grave stone of Daniel James, author of Calon Lan

Calon Lan Centre is increasingly welcoming local, national and international visitors, visiting choirs and members of the global Welsh community who have been impacted by the Calon Lan anthem, the works of Daniel James (buried in the adjacent cemetery), and the Welsh non-conformist movement that inspired his writings.

How did we identify the need for this project?

As stated by Reverend Grenville Fisher, in 2011; “Calon Lan is our second national anthem” (South Wales Evening Post, 3rd October, 2011). Of course, to the Welsh community, the national appeal to Calon Lan the anthem is clear – it is sung reverently all over Wales in schools, recitals and major sporting events.

Considering the impact of the Calon Lan anthem and the legacy of Daniel James (former member of the chapel, who rests in the chapel grounds), the chapel was literally closed and for sale to bidders in 2011. That the Centre is now operational and actively creating a significant heritage centre is nothing short of a miracle in itself.

Through both observation and informal, verbal surveys, the need for grounds renovation is clear. As stated by Rev. Grenville Fisher in the South Wales Evening Post (Oct 3rd, 2011), “This [chapel’s] history is excellent. It’s very, very important, not just for the history of Swansea, but of Wales and the world in general”.

As stated above, the quality of the grounds of the Calon Lan Centre is integral to the charity’s mission and vision. The capacity for visitors and the community to be able to meander along small pathways between monuments, and see the natural beauty and wildlife surrounding the centre is integral to everything that happens inside the centre’s walls.

In addition, Calon Lan Centre plans for Welsh cultural and literary events to be held inside the centre and grounds. 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Daniel James, and a literary festival is being planned by a committee representing the local authority, local schools and organisations, and the local universities and colleges for this purpose.

Calon Lan Centre’s mission is to host at least one significant event per month. Further, the grounds are the catalyst for the recruitment of voluntary aid that provides a sense of meaning to all those who serve the charity’s vision.

How will the project consider the needs of people who are disadvantaged or excluded?

One key aim of the charity is to inspire a sense of pride in, and ownership of, the project and its mission. The project continues to have the support of the community through groups such as the Community First programme, Shaw Trust, and Swansea Community Volunteers Society (SCVS).

Interwoven into the Calon Lan Centre’s ability to invite the elderly in our community and those in isolation (including local refugees and asylum seekers), is to simplify access and one’s ability to walk around and enjoy the grounds to expand the existing provision for the elderly beyond tea afternoons and encouraging talks. Indeed, the hope is that the elderly may increasingly tell their story to the younger generations, extending the vision and mission of the charity organically. This is made all the more possible by the restoration of the beauty of the surrounding grounds.

How might volunteers be involved in this project?

This project aims to enable community work for approximately 20 local volunteers for the project, who will help to work alongside the professional project team to clear, maintain, and support the landscaping and grounds work. This will inspire further maintenance of the grounds and gardens and for the growth and preparation of ongoing produce project for the Calon Lan Centre kitchens through increased activity around the centre’s existing commercial Poly Foil greenhouse that is currently partially obscured by grounds needing landscaping.

There has been a faithful community of volunteers who have been meeting regularly inside the Calon Lan Centre since the building’s restoration, who’s passion it is to see the entire project’s complete restoration. Calon Lan Centre, located inside Mynyddbach Chapel, is also home to two local choirs. It is frequently used by the BBC and other productions as recording studios due to its secluded location and first class acoustics. This will only increase with the improved landscaped green facilities. Indeed, once the grounds are restored, plans are underway to increase marketing efforts to attract choirs to the Calon Lan Centre, which will attract members of the community and generate local enthusiasm.

There is also a large group of local community and international members who are called ‘friends of Mynyddbach’ who have long demonstrated their unwavering support of the work and shall continue to act as an informal ‘steering group’ for this project. The group have been consulted throughout the ongoing renovation. Calon Lan Centre fully intends to involve these friends in the project and beyond.

Lastly (mentioned above) the Calon Lan Centre’s poly tunnel greenhouse and raised beds area are run by volunteers to provide produce for the charity’s kitchen which currently runs a luncheon club primarily for the elderly and to provide regular meals for asylum seekers who have to attend the nearby Government offices.

How will you provide for Welsh speakers in the delivery of your project?

Calon Lan Centre has a unique position with regard to the preservation of the Welsh language, not least due to the fact that Calon Lan, Wales’ unofficial second national anthem, written by Daniel James (better known by his Welsh bardic name, Gwyrosydd, meaning ‘the truth will stand’), a member of the Chapel, is still to this day, sung in Welsh inside national stadiums and venues throughout Wales. Calon Lan anthem is a uniting force for the Welsh, generationally and globally. Daniel James was a member of Mynyddbach Chapel and rests in its cemetery, which is part of the landscaping renovation project.

Additionally, a weekly meeting held inside the Calon Lan Centre is held predominantly in Welsh and also part of the programme involves a regular coffee morning for Welsh learners.

Rev. Grenville Fisher, Trustee of the Calon Lan Centre has for a long time addressed school groups, community groups and local organisations on the value of Welsh speaking services and events and will do so throughout the project’s progress, clearly explaining the work, it’s importance, and its significance in the ongoing development of the Calon Lan Centre and presentation of its legacy.

Further, Calon Lan Centre has frequently hosted and organised annual events held in the Welsh language such as Cawl Acan, Gymanfa Ganu, Nosan Lawen and more. Also, on 20th March, 2019, the centre was pleased to host the Eisteddfod, an annual event that is organised and run by Urdd Gobaith Cymru (aka Urdd). Plans are being made for more Welsh events to take place, not least to commemorate Gwyrosydd’s 100 year centenary of his death, with a 4-day literary festival held in the buildings and improved grounds.

From the above evidence, it is clear to see the importance of the Welsh language and culture interwoven into the project. The wider marketing plan plans to give the Welsh language equal billing alongside the English language in all Website and social media content. This is in line with the Calon Lan Centre’s overall mission and vision

What difference can this project will make?

Schools and community groups will benefit from enhanced knowledge of the roots of Welsh culture. Daniel James and the Calon Lan anthem is part of Wales’ legacy to the world, and a testimony to be increasingly shared – all his works have largely been published in Welsh but are very shareable due to their appeal to higher values. The community will benefit from increased space to walk amongst the memorials, and an increase in visitors through new events will bring further appreciation of the grounds.

Plans to invite and speak to local schools and community groups are linked to the restoration work being completed. Additionally, Calon Lan Centre intends to host events such as Cawl Acan, Gymanfa Ganu, Nosan Lawen and more. Plans are being made for more Welsh events to take place, not least to commemorate Gwyrosydd’s 100 year centenary of his death, with a 4-day literary festival held in the buildings and improved grounds.

Economically, Calon Lan Centre hopes to increasingly attract visitors to the centre, stimulating spend in the nearby region. Socially, this is an extremely significant cultural restoration project that will open land space for the community to enjoy. Environmentally, the green space hosts wonderful wildlife, which the project will enhance.