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Historic Swansea building focuses on bright future

One of Swansea's most celebrated old buildings is looking forward to a stellar future in the hands of local people.

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A green space is being created at the heart of a new homes development - and Penllergaer's historic Equatorial Observatory will be its eye catching centrepiece.

Swansea Council sold the 14.58-acre site to local business Enzo's Homes and both have worked with the Penllergare (note: correct) Trust to transfer the observatory to the Trust who will continue to protect and enhance it.

The 167-year-old structure is registered as a scheduled ancient monument by Welsh heritage body Cadw.

It was built in 1851 by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, a renowned botanist and photography pioneer, as a 16th birthday present for daughter Thereza. They lived there in the Penllergare House mansion which no longer stands. It was from the observatory in around 1856 that they took one of the first photographs of the Moon.

The homes now being built around the observatory range from three-bedroom to five-bedroom properties. Three of the five-bedroom homes will replicate the appearance of the mansion house.

Trust deputy chair and managing director Paul Baker said: "The whole site is of great historical significance so we're pleased to be working on it with Swansea Council and Enzo's Homes to ensure its protection for future generations.

"The observatory is one of the site's few remaining 19th century structures and the Trust want to ensure that it remains a monument to the estate's illustrious past.

"The Dillwyn Llewelyn family were passionate amateur scientists - particularly in photography, astronomy and botany - and it's important that the observatory is preserved as a salute to their groundbreaking work."

Last century the estate became a work base for hundreds of local authority staff and later became surplus to the requirements of Swansea Council.

Clive Lloyd, the council's cabinet member for business transformation and performance, said: "I'm thrilled that we've been able to work with the Trust and developer to help retain and improve the observatory.

"We sold the site because we want to be more cost-effective than ever. The scheme will bring new housing to Penllergaer and will accompany the Trust's reinvigoration of the Penllergare Valley Woods."

Enzo Sauro, of Enzo's Homes, said: "We are really excited about this development, which will offer great family homes situated in beautiful and historic surroundings, with easy access to the city of Swansea and the M4 corridor. The interest in the development has been phenomenal." 

Photo Paul Baker, centre, of the Penllergare Trust, at Penllergaer's historic Equatorial Observatory, with Clive Lloyd, right, Swansea Council's cabinet member for business transformation and performance, and Enzo Sauro, of Enzo's Homes. The Trust will care for the observatory.


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