Furnace to Flowers

Taking a lunch break in the '80s at the Pumphouse...

"To my surprise, I found the site covered in bulrushes with wildlife living in the water. These included water boatmen, newts, frogs and resting on the bull rushes, were dragonflies. As I sat there eating my sandwiches, a kingfisher landed on a concrete pillar."

Alan Waite, Steel Works fitter

Furnace to Flowers

"The very early blast furnaces were often built on mountain slopes. Furnace workers would take their lives in their hands as they used a wheelbarrow to take raw materials up the slope to pour in at the top. This would be dangerous as there was usually blowback from the mixture in the furnace - something like a volcano erupting."

Noel Evans - Steel worker

Furnace to Flowers – respecting the past, celebrating the present and creating a bright future for people and wildlife!

In 2015, we entered the Grow Wild competition to work with Kew Gardens and BIG Lottery to develop a flagship site in Wales that showcases native plants and demonstrates how they benefit people as well as wildlife. We made it through to the public vote – and we are delighted that we won the £120k prize. GWT thanks everyone who voted for Furnace to Flowers and supported our campaign.

Over the next couple of years, we plan to transform a 20 hectare corridor running through The Works as far as Festival Park – demonstrating the potential of post-industrial areas to provide homes for many species of wildlife as well as beautiful, peaceful places for people to enjoy.

The Furnace to Flowers project has been developed by our Living Valleys team, based in Ebbw Vale, in collaboration with partners including Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Breaking Barriers Community Arts, Festival Park, Family Integration Project, Barnardos and Aneurin Leisure.

For more information on Ebbw Vale's past, present and future, click on boxes at the bottom of this page.

See Iolo Williams give Furnace to Flowers his support Here!

Michael Sheen pledges his support for the Ebbw Vale project below!

 

 

 

 

 

Progress so far...

Furnace to Flowers is an ambitious project and to be able to achieve it, we have split it into ‘zones’:

Secret Sensory Garden – A secret garden tucked away at the heart of the former steelworks, on the site of its cooling towers and pumphouse. Children and young people helped to design a sensory garden to explore and discover – filling it with sound, colour, texture and fun. We plan to create features such as a sensory wall, secret dens in trees, a splash zone and tunnel with wildflower roof. The minibeast hotel is in place, complete with wildflower roof. More trees have been planted to make it even more secret (as well as providing food and shelter for insects and birds) and lots of wildflowers, like marsh marigold, cowslip, oxeye daisy and wild clematis.


Festival Parklands – This lovely park contains lakes, trees and walkways and has benefitted from an injection of wildflowers. The brick dragon has been revamped, the amphitheatre has been managed for wildflower meadows and the lakeside arena has seen colourful planting, walling topped with flowers such as wild thyme and stonecrop and woodland areas filled with thousands of bluebell bulbs.

Edges with edge - We plan to brighten up the roadsides throughout The Works by creating and managing a series of mini wildflower meadows – great for people and wildlife too. In the first year, we encouraged perennials by planting plugs and cutting and raking grasslands for a long lasting display of colour that will provide lots of food for bees, butterflies, birds and lots more wildlife! After that, we will need to cut and rake areas to make sure that flowers appear every year. We've been managing a local verge (Cwm bypass) like this for a number of years and each year there are more flowers and wildlife to see.

 

Thank you for you support and we look forward to sharing with you how the project is progressing!

 

GWT thanks the volunteers at Ebbw Vale Works Museum for providing all of the historical images and information on the history of the steel works. The museum is open Monday to Fridays from 10am to 4.30pm except on Bank Holidays.

Artist impressions of Furnace to Flowers sites courtesy of Lingard Styles Ltd

Oxeye Daisy photo courtesy of Blair Jones

 

About Grow Wild

Grow Wild inspires communities, friends, neighbours and individuals across the UK to come together to transform local spaces, by sowing, growing and enjoying native wild flowers.

We believe that this simple act of creativity can turn spaces into beautiful, inspiring and colourful wildlife havens; encouraging people to care for and delight in the nature around them.

Any space can be transformed – from balconies to old boots, streets to shared spaces, boxes to buckets. Anything that will hold soil, water and seeds will do: just let your imagination grow wild.

 

Ebbw Vale - Past

cr Ebbw Vale

View of Old North Gate in the 1950s; notice the small WW2 lookout post on the top of the hill

Ebbw Vale - Present

 Surveying for orchids

Ebbw Vale - Future

cr GWT

Festival Park Brick Dragon