Wales

Support for campaign to reopen Taffs Well hot spring

Taffs Well spring in the 1930s (picture Pentyrch and District Local History Society)
Image caption The well reopened in 1930 after years of decline and a swimming pool was later built making use of the spring waters

Villagers are backing a campaign to revive a hot spring whose waters are believed to have once attracted the Romans.

The waters of Taffs Well, near Cardiff, have proved fashionable at various periods in history.

But the site of the well, once used for bathing because of its supposed healing powers, has fallen into disrepair.

Residents are backing calls for the waters to be brought back into use to bring in visitors.

Christine and Rob Murrell, who run the Taffs Well Inn which was opened in the late 19th Century to cater for such visitors, say it is a missed opportunity.

Mrs Murrell said: "It looks very sad at the moment and it's got a long history.

"It's on the same line as Bath spa and when you look at what they've done in Bath and what they've done in Wales...

"It's the only thermal spring in Wales. It's been sadly neglected and it's in very poor condition. It's called Taffs Well because of the well and it's sad to see it."

The couple have started a petition, which has attracted two hundred signatures and will be handed to Rhondda Cynon Taf council (RCT) early next year, calling for the site to be revamped and reopened as a thermal spring.

'Prime site'

"People talk about regeneration and bringing business into Wales and there's a prime site here not being invested in and neglected," she said.

RCT announced plans to revive the spring's fortunes in 2005 but drainage at the site, next to the River Taff, has proved problematic.

While it is unlikely that visitors will be able to try the waters in the near future, it is hoped the area can be improved.

"There have been initial discussions around the renovation of the well at Taffs Well Park and a revised landscaping scheme be introduced at the entrance to the well," said an RCT spokesperson.

Image caption The well's waters drew visitors for their supposed healing powers

"To date, the only works that have taken place have been around the renewal of the drainage outlet/overflow to the well."

The council said this work had cost about £25,000, some £10,000 more than originally predicted, due to "complications with the location and type of work required".

"The drainage has been problematic for several years and, now that we feel the situation has been overcome, we will be looking at ways in which we can landscape the area and create an attractive feature of the well which will hopefully welcome visitors," said the council.

Little is known about the well's early history but it is referred to in an 1833 book as "sometimes called ffynnon dwym or the tepid well".

A huge flood in 1799 is said to have uncovered Roman masonry, which disappeared following further surges from the River Taff.

Swimming pool

The well is thought to have been used mainly by locals until the mid-18th Century but its popularity grew following stories of its healing powers.

Its fortunes faded into the 20th Century but it reopened in 1930 and a swimming pool was later built alongside, using the well's water.

Don Llewellyn who was born and bred in nearby Pentyrch, but learned to swim in the pool as a young boy, said: "Going back to my childhood, there was a swimming pool that the local unemployed people built using water from the well."

Image caption Christine Murrell would like to see the well used to attract visitors to the village

Mr Llewellyn, chairman of Pentyrch and District Local History Society, said: "That's where I learned to swim and all my contemporaries learned to swim as well.

"Sadly, they don't make use of the well. What a wonderful tourist attraction it could be."

He said the old swimming pool was 17yds (15.5m) in length, 3ft (0.9m) in the shallow end and 5ft (1.5m) in the deep end.

"Taffs Well were the ruffians down there and used to throw us in - some of us learned to swim because of that," he laughed.

The swimming pool was filled and landscaped during a redevelopment of the site in the mid-1990s.

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