Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Lynne Neagle and MS for Cardiff North Julie Morgan officially open Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs with the Reservoir Action Group
The Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Lynne Neagle and MS for Cardiff North Julie Morgan, joined Chairman of Glas Cymru Alastair Lyons and CEO of Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water Peter Perry in North Cardiff last Thursday (7 September 2023) to officially open Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs.
The current Chair and former Chair of the Reservoir Action Group (RAG) – Richard Cowie and Andrew Hill – were special guests at the event, with the family of the original Chair Ted Thurgood and several members of the group that fought for nearly two decades to save the site from becoming a housing estate, also attending.
Dwr Cymru’s newest visitor attraction opened to the public at the beginning of the summer holiday season as a hub for health and wellbeing and a haven for wildlife. Built in the late-19th century, Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs are a Victorian landmark – covering 110 acres of green and blue space and home to amazing flora and fauna – offering an oasis of calm in Cardiff.
Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs came under threat in 2001 and members of the local community formed the Reservoir Action Group (RAG), successfully campaigning for almost two decades to save the reservoirs from being demolished to make way for a housing development. The original Chair of RAG Ted Thurgood sadly passed away in 2019. A meeting room at the reservoirs has been named in his honour. At the event, the former Chair of RAG, Andrew Hill, paid tribute to Ted.
Andrew Hill said: “At the news that Llanishen Reservoir was under threat, Ted – using his skills of organisation and publicity – set up a committee of concerned local people and thus RAG was formed. Ted chaired RAG successfully, gaining over 2000 members who raised money for our ‘David and Goliath’ fight with Western Power Distribution, which lasted for nearly two decades. Ewart Parkinson the past Director of Planning for Cardiff and South Glamorgan was an immense help and a steadfast supporter of RAG. It is sad that Ted and Ewart are not here to witness this magnificent achievement.
“Not only is the reservoir a magnificent publicly accessible amenity, but it is also part of the great 1880’s Brecon to Cardiff water supply scheme designed by the water engineer John Williams. The upper two reservoir structures were designated as nationally important historic structures and listed by the Welsh Government. RAG produced the research which led to Llanishen being added to that list in 2010. This gave it and its setting protection against damage or destruction.
“Richard Cowie took over as Chair of RAG in 2013 and with its very able and active committee, has been involved during the last ten years in the regeneration of this city-wide facility. It is remarkable that Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water had the vision and foresight to achieve the re-birth of Llanishen and is wonderful to formally open this magnificent new building today.”
Speaking at the event, Chair of Glas Cymru Alastair Lyons thanked partners, funders, staff, and contractors who had made the opening of the site possible.
Alastair Lyons said: “Looking around this beautiful site, it’s hard to believe that it was almost destroyed. We’re enormously grateful to the many people in the local community who rallied together to form the Reservoir Action Group and campaigned tirelessly to save it. Since taking over Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs in 2016, we’ve been working with RAG and other key partners to ensure that this ecologically important site could be protected so that the health and wellbeing benefits are enjoyed for generations to come.
“Funding this work has been possible because of our status as a not-for-shareholder company as this allows us to deploy the reserves that, in a shareholder company would flow out as dividends, back into the business to the benefit of customers and the communities we serve.”
The redevelopment of Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs is backed with £932k of funding from the Welsh Government’s ‘Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being (ENRaW) scheme towards the paths and the green infrastructure. Thanks to a £202k Community Woodland grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with the Welsh Government, the woodlands have been brought into active management and enhanced for people and wildlife.
The Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle said: “I am delighted to open Lisvane and Llanishen reservoirs. This has been eagerly awaited and will be an asset to the community and those visiting the area. Over recent years, Wales has seen a substantial growth in outdoor and water-centred activity. Being able to access green spaces and water environments in our cities is important for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. As a government we fully support water activities and encourage everyone to enjoy the water safely.
“There are so many opportunities for people to explore our great outdoors and I encourage everyone to take some time to appreciate and enjoy the biodiversity that can be found right here in our capital city.”
Julie Morgan, Member of the Senedd for Cardiff North, added: “I’m so pleased to open the Llanishen and Lisvane Reservoirs, a wonderful community space. I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of the Reservoir Action Group and all those involved over the last 22 years.
“Not only is this a beautiful space to be enjoyed by the local community, but it is also an important ecological site, housing the very important Waxcap Mushrooms and a huge amount of biodiversity. The water sports and activities offer fantastic opportunities to engage with the site and I encourage people to make the most of them.”
For information, please visit www.lisvane-llanishen.com