Heritage project links Denbigh town to its historic past

Friday 19 December 2014

The Denbigh Town – Castle Link project has linked the past and the present with a series of innovative artworks and route improvements as part of the Heritage Tourism Project

  • Picture of a sculpture by Joss Smith

    A sculpture by Joss Smith

  • Picture of the window artwork on Broomhill Lane by Ann Catrin Evans and Dyfed Wyn Jones

    Broomhill Lane window artwork by Ann Catrin Evans and Dyfed Wyn Jones

  • Picture of a sculpture by Joss Smith

    A sculpture by Joss Smith

The Denbigh Town – Castle Link project has been developed to attract more visitors to the town and give them reason to stay longer which in turn will support the local businesses and help develop the local economy.

The project builds on the great work recently undertaken by Cadw at Denbigh Castle one of Denbigh’s main historic tourist attractions. £610,000 of funding from Cadw’s Heritage Tourism Project provided a new purpose-built visitor centre and new interpretation as well as making the town wall walks more easily accessible. Both projects form part of Cadw’s £19 million Heritage Tourism Project which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government.

This latest project focuses on Broomhill Lane having transformed it into an interesting and exciting route between the town centre and the castle and the castle walls; one of Denbigh’s best kept secrets. By making the lane more appealing, it will encourage visitors to use the route to make their way between the town centre, the castle and the castle walls. Research shows that currently not all visitors to the castle visit the town centre and not all visitors to the town centre even know about the castle and the castle walls.

The improvement in the appearance of the lane, transforming it into the principal route will create a better visitor offer and help continue Denbigh’s journey in becoming a well-known visitor destination.

The project has included providing better vehicle signage to the castle and between the castle and the town centre. However, the most exciting part of the project is the installation of several pieces of artwork.

The project’s steering group, representing the town council, the tourism and business groups, Denbighshire County Council and Cadw, appointed five artists who were commissioned to interpret the feasibility study for Broomhill Lane that Denbigh Tourism Group carried out before the start of this project. The results of that study showed that the people of Denbigh favoured the broom flower theme and so that features heavily in the artwork.

Two Welsh artists, Ann Catrin Evans from Caernarvon and Dyfed Wyn Jones from Denbigh, have made attractive new window grilles, new decorative overhead lights and a striking new sign to point the way up Broomhill Lane from the town centre. Ann and Dyfed have used designs based on the broom flower, the Denbigh ‘key’ and local history. Following a branding exercise, the key has recently become the new logo for Denbigh.

Dyfed says, "Ann and I were very excited to be chosen for this work as we both come from North Wales (I am from Denbigh). We enjoyed working together on the project, researching and designing around the history of Denbigh to come up with work that will tell a little bit of the rich history of this town."

Rebecca Gouldson, based in Bristol and with family still living in Ruthin, has designed new utility covers. There are so many utility covers along the footpath of Broomhill Lane that the steering group thought it would be exciting to make the covers part of the overall experience. Rebecca has used historic maps of Denbigh to influence her designs and has incorporated important historical details such as the railway, the glove making industry and well known historical figures such as the author Kate Roberts and Hugh Myddleton.

Welsh poet Rhys Trimble, from Bethesda, has written a Welsh poem and an English poem that have been stencilled along the wall of the lane.
Finally sculptor, Joss Smith, from London, has produced an eye catching sculpture placed at the turn in the lane at Temple Bar Gardens which can be seen from the High Street. He has also produced two smaller sculptures that ‘fly’ out of the wall part way up the lane. Joss’ designs are based on the Welsh mythological Mabinogion’s character, Blodeuwedd and the nine flowers of power. One of the flowers is a broom flower.

Joss describes his practice as being “informed by a history of sculpture and I gain inspiration from many genres. I have a relatively formal approach to works for public sites and consider scale, angles of approach, prevalent building materials and their colour as well as history and heritage to define themes. Increasingly I recognise in my work an attempt to make something which will retain meaning and transcend time.”

All of the artwork has been carefully thought out to make people want to see what’s next and thereby walk up or down the lane making the journey between the castle and the town centre easier, interesting and exciting. Councillor Gwyneth Kensler said, ‘This is a very exciting project and is just what Denbigh needs to help showcase its important history and its attractive town centre. We need to promote Denbigh as a tourist destination to bring more visitors to the town to support the local economy. I’m sure this project will help to do just that.’