A few days ago we were returning to Cardiff on the Head of the Valleys road when we decided to turn off at Ebbw Vale with the intention of visiting the out-of-town shopping centre of Festival Park. Since this led us past what is left of the steel works, I decided to turn off to have a peek and investigate. I didn’t really know what to expect, but apart from the General Offices and a token mill stand there was nothing to be seen. The rest is built up with what looks like community projects (such as a college and a sports hall) or for the moment still bare ground presumably destined for other building projects.
The mill stand I remember being there from the days when it was close to the entrance of the works, but at the time it was sitting in a mini Japanese garden (presumably the result of our technical exchange with Nippon Steel) – a pity nothing survived of this garden. The General Offices were retained because they are a Grade II listed building, and are used to house the Blaenau Gwent offices. Unfortunately the club and the adjacent bowling green disappeared.
It was just before closing time, but I managed to be shown around very quickly around a small museum about the steel works by someone who had worked in the stores when the steel works were still open. I made an endeavour to take a more leisurely look around the museum on another day. But for the moment this was enough – I know time moves on, but I had hoped that there would be more left of what was after all a large chunk of the valley.
At least they now have their own railway station close to the General Offices, which presumably could be done fairly quickly by extending the line from the point where the coils arrived in the works from Port Talbot or Llanwern. Presumably it makes it easier for people living in Ebbw Vale to find work further south should there be none locally.