Pioneer community hub opens at Llandeilo station
Also see the Carmarthenshire Herald, July 15th 2016, p. 13
From afar it could be a stranded goods wagon. Close up, it’s a highly insulated wooden building by the approach road to Llandeilo station. Nicknamed ‘The Hub’, it is unique in the UK’s rail network, the first of a hoped-for string of similar buildings at rural stations.
Created for the Heart of Wales Line Development Company, costing around £30,000 and grant-aided by the Welsh Government, the building has a water supply from rain falling on the roof, and a compost toilet independent of mains drainage. LED lighting and low-energy heating tubes also contribute to low running costs.
“We are linking this building to mains electricity,” said project manager Rachel Francis, “but with the help of solar panels a similar building could have an independent electricity supply. “
Built of Welsh timber by David Bamford of Presteigne, Powys, the Hub will be available for local social enterprises and businesses. The first to book are Sara Tommerup and James Scrivens of the Black Mountain Food Hub – a hub within a hub – who will be there on Friday mornings for food producers to deliver and in the afternoons for customers to collect their orders, received via their website, http://www.blackmountainfoodhub.co.uk. A local delivery service is offered too, at £2, and there are plans for Llandovery station to also become a collection point.
“We hope to work with more local food producers,” said Sara. “Currently the Popty Patagonia Bakehouse, Organics to Go, Liliwen Herbs, Llandeilo Country Markets and Black Mountain Wholefoods — all in and around Llandeilo — are our suppliers, and we will also be sourcing butter from the Gwenlas Dairy. At present we are looking especially for more vegetables.”
The Hub could also become a base for day trip and railway-linked package tour operators. The Heart of Wales Line Development Company and Herefordshire-based travel firm Rural Concierge are working on a programme of mini breaks from stations along the line, which links Swansea with Shrewsbury.
More ideas could come from a Friends of Llandeilo Station group, which Heart of Wales Line development officer David Edwards is keen to see created.
For the Heart of Wales Line Development Company, and high-profile railway enthusiasts including Professor Paul Salveson of Huddersfield University, siting The Hub at Llandeilo is the result of months of planning and negotiations – and of confidence that the Heart of Wales line will continue to grow in importance as a transport artery.