There can be a future for Saron

From early times up to the present day Troedyrhiw has always enjoyed a well deserved reputation in the Merthyr valley for the vigour of its cultural and community life. As one 19th century observer commented, this place is ‘a star of the first magnitude.
Today Communities First, Troedyrhiw Boys and Girls Club, Scouts, Afon Taf School and a number of other groups and individuals are active in the village. Their work can be regarded as being a natural continuation of that begun by previous generations but in ways which are in tune with the needs of the modern world.

From the rich chapel based life of the 19th and early 20th centuries; through local responses to the economic depression of the 1920’s and 1930’s; to the optimism and relative prosperity of the post-war years and up to today’s more unsettled times Troedyrhiw people have always displayed a highly developed community spirit.
Although several areas of Troedyrhiw are in obvious need of environmental improvement there is one small corner of the village which is currently in such a critical condition that immediate and effective action is urgently required. This place is the site of the former Saron chapel and its graveyard in Chapel Street. The sad condition of this location is completely at odds with its history and with what it could and should be now and in the future.
It is clear that there now exists what is probably the final opportunity to conserve and rescue the site in a way which is sensitive to its past and viable for the long term. In the first instance a plan of action in which local people work with Merthyr Borough Council and other agencies to secure a lasting solution to this problem would seem to be called for.

There are numerous examples from throughout the UK of successful projects of the type which has been proposed here. In most cases financial backing has been obtained from sources such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Civic Trust. In this case the Welsh Assembly Communities First Initiative announcement of a ‘cash boost’ over the next few years of £4.5 million for the Merthyr area of which £715 thousand has been earmarked for Troedyrhiw would appear to offer a possible source of funding. In addition, there is some evidence that there were monies left in trust when Saron chapel closed in 1983. Their original and current value, the trustees and their whereabouts are unclear . It is known, however, that a local resident, quite properly in the circumstances, was able to access a significant sum from this fund to part finance the building of a secondary barrier to prevent a Saron retaining wall from collapsing onto his property.

The aims of any initiative of the type being suggested would be likely to include:-

1. To restore a derelict site, removing an eyesore and creating an amenity.
2. To stabilise and make safe areas of structural damage.
3. To discourage antisocial behaviour by promoting positive attitudes.
4. To provide a low maintenance future.
5. To find an appropriate use which is in keeping with historical use.
6. To engage local people of all ages in a useful community project.
7. To provide a focus for appropriate educational activities related to local history and environmental issues.
8. To leave a legacy which future generations will be grateful for.
9. To foster a sense of community pride.

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