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Margam Country Park among UK’s top ten – again

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The top ten rating comes after a UK-wide “People’s Vote” organised by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy to find the country’s ten best Green Flag Award-winning parks and green spaces.

The Green Flag Award scheme is the annual international quality standard for parks and green spaces. 

Following this year’s awards, in which Margam Country Park was once again the recipient of a prestigious Green Flag, members of the British public were invited to take part in the “People’s Choice” vote for their favourite park with tens of thousands joining in. 

Margam Country Park emerged as the only park in Wales to be voted into the country’s top ten. It follows a similar outcome of last year’s People’s Choice vote in which Margam also made it into the UK’s prestigious top ten parks and green spaces list.

Since the start of the pandemic, parks have played an important role for communities the length and breadth of the UK. Research conducted by Keep Britain Tidy earlier in the year showed that more than nine in ten people (93%) think that parks and green spaces are extremely important to their local community.

Now, those communities have spoken with the announcement of the winners in the 2021 People’s Choice Awards, the voting for which was held during October 2021.

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Cllr Peter Rees, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, said: “Thanks to the tireless work of our amazing staff and volunteers, Margam Country Park is a great place for recreation, sports, play, and relaxation and has yet again been shown, by a public vote, to be one of the very best in Britain.

“I’d like to thank everyone who voted for Margam Park and I am delighted it has once again been recognised in the Green Flag People’s Choice Awards. The park is such an important landmark both for our local residents and visitors and this award shows just how much people value it.”

Joining Margam Park in the People’s Choice ten most popular parks and green space are:

  • Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets
  • Cassiobury Park, Watford
  • Eoropie Park, Isle of Lewis
  • Strathaven Park, South Lanarkshire
  • University of Essex Wivenhoe Park, Colchester
  • Valentines Park, Ilford
  • Warley Woods, Smethwick
  • Telford Town Park, Telford
  • National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire

Commenting on the result, International Green Flag Award Manager Paul Todd said: “Congratulations to our ten worthy winners!

“The Green Flag Award includes some of the country’s best-known and iconic parks as well as community green spaces and university campuses.

“To be voted one of the nation’s favourite parks is a real achievement and testament to all the hard work done by the thousands of parks staff and volunteers up and down the country who work tirelessly to make their parks fantastic places that everyone can enjoy.”

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Lead image: Margam Castle (Image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Margam

Fishpond Power: Margam Country Park turbine restoration creates renewable energy source

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The historic turbine house located in Margam Country Park has been restored to once again provide electricity for the Margam Estate.

The Turbine house was built in 1891 for Emily Charlotte Talbot, who commissioned the development of a hydro-electric scheme powered by a nearby fishpond.

The original turbine generated enough electricity to power 400 lamps. It is thought Margam Castle was the second domestic dwelling to have electricity in Britain at that time.

During the 1950s, the original turbine was removed and taken to South Africa. The replacement turbine has now been fully restored after being neglected for many years.

The restored turbine can now produce approximately 25KW of renewable energy which will be used to power the buildings on the Margam Estate, including the prestigious on-site wedding venue, The Orangery.

The hydro-electric scheme creates no emissions while in service and any unspent energy will be fed back to the National Grid. The project will bring savings to the operation of the country park, reduce the carbon footprint and provide an educational resource for local residents, visitors and schools.

The Margam Park fishpond (Image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

Cllr Peter Rees, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, said: “This project neatly combines part of Margam’s history with the council’s modern day Decarbonisation and Renewable Energy (DARE) strategy and I’d like to thank everyone involved in bringing this valuable renewable energy source back to life.”

The turbine restoration project was overseen by Neath Port Talbot Council, with support from Cadw and the Friends of Margam Country Park who worked closely with Heidra, the company responsible for restoring the ancient turbine.

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Steve Ritchie from Heidra said: “Heidra was delighted to be asked by Neath Port Talbot Council to refurbish the 1920s hydro-electric system at Margam Country Park. The turbine, which originally powered the castle electrics before the National Grid existed, has now been upgraded with a modern control and efficient electric generator to supply both heat and clean green electricity to power the Park.”

In addition to housing the turbine, the building will also be used as a workshop and exhibition space for the Friends of Margam Park.

The turbine is open to the public to view, which will help promote and give an insight into the important development of modern-day renewable energy generators.

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