Llanyrafon Manor in Cwmbran reopens as heritage centre
A 17th Century manor house in south Wales is to be reopened as a rural heritage centre in a £1.6m restoration project.
Grade II-listed Llanyrafon Manor in Cwmbran's centre will be a tourist attraction celebrating local history.
A cafe, education and training rooms, with space for community events, will be built.
The cost is being met by Torfaen council, Cadw, the Welsh Government and the European Union.
The manor, which had a farm and orchard, is one of the few historic buildings to be found in the centre of Cwmbran, which was transformed by development of the post war new town.
It was damaged by fire and fell into disrepair in the 1970s, but was saved and run as a farming museum in the 1980s.
After the museum closed, local residents campaigned to save the site from development, culminating in the current restoration project.
A special event in Cwmbran on Thursday will launch phase two of the scheme, after funding was previously obtained to make the building safe.
The next stage will refurbish the manor and its grounds to incorporate a cafe, visitor facilities, offices for Torfaen's rural development team and room for other rural businesses.
The council will also appoint of a rural heritage officer to run the manor which is scheduled to open to the public in April 2012.
Local residents are also expected to work as volunteer guides at the attraction.
The project is being co-ordinated by Torfaen council as part of its rural development plan (RDP).
While Torfaen's population is concentrated in the towns of Cwmbran, Pontypool and Blaenavon, councillors are keen to boost the fortunes of the surrounding rural areas.
Torfaen council leader Bob Wellington said: "The RDP is helping to transform the lives of people living and working in our rural communities, through improving diversity and supporting the development of new businesses.
"Our plans for Llanyrafon Manor will encourage even more people to visit this wonderful part of Torfaen and to see for themselves how important our rural communities are."
As well as the latest plans for the manor, the event will also launch A Taste of Torfaen, a scheme to promote local produce, arts and crafts.
Both projects are being backed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.