The Iron Room is situated in the village of Eglwysfach in North Ceredigion on the main A487 trunk road; the exterior of the building is made of corrugated iron and is Grade 2 listed by CADW. The building which was formerly a church hall is owned by the St Davids Diocesan Board of Finance, but it had fallen into disrepair, and was in need of refurbishment. To enable the restoration works to go ahead it was necessary for a number of community members to establish a private limited company and register as a charity – The Iron Room (Eglwysfach) Ltd. In May 2012, the St Davids Diocesan Board granted a 25 year full repairing lease to the The Iron Room (Eglwysfach) Ltd at a peppercorn rent.
Work to raise the funding required to renovate the building took place in the community and was eventually sourced from various places including the Community Facility Activity Programme (Welsh Government), CAVO, Ceredigion County Council, and also trusts and private donors. The renovation work on the building took place with the hall being transformed with a new annexe on the west side, disabled toilet facilities, new lighting, restoration of the Victorian stage, updating the kitchen, a new floor and a cinema/lecture installation, as well as new windows and insulation which makes the building far warmer. The building work on the project was completed by a local building company West Wales Restoration, and professional assistance was provided by Catalina Architecture Ltd. Carillion Engineering Ltd cleared the site as part of their voluntary service to the community.
Once most of the renovation to the building had been completed the community realised that no provision had been made for the exterior and garden area of the Iron Room. The outside space was very steep and rocky, with little vegetation on site, and the community were keen to get involved with improving the Iron Room’s surroundings. Therefore an approach was made by the Iron Room Ltd to the Cynnal y Cardi project for support. The Iron Room acts as a community hall for three villages (Furnace, Eglwysfach and Glandyfi) and it was important that the outside area be made safe and attractive for community members of all ages to enjoy. It was also seen as very important to improve the garden area for the benefit of wildlife due to the Iron Room being in the Dyfi Biosphere area and also very nearby the RSPB’s Ynys Hir Nature Reserve. This was achieved by planting a number of flowering plants, trees and shrubs; bat and bird boxes have also been produced by local volunteers and placed on site. The funding provided by the CyC project has also purchased fencing for the garden to help ensure visitors safety – especially of local children on site, and an engraved picnic bench has been purchased to encourage further public use of the garden area. Match funding for the project was provided by local volunteers hours; volunteers have planned the garden design as well as contributing hours to work on preparing the site and planting in the garden.
The volunteers have dedicated a substantial amount of work into the project over the years, which is a credit to them. The public launch of the Iron Room (15th November 2012) by the Bishop of St Davids was a huge success with community members of all ages attending to show their support. The work on the garden will be complete by the end of March 2013. In the mean-time the site is being used regularly by lots of different kinds of community and interest groups from the area, the trustees are ensuring that the price of hire is affordable to local groups and have a lively programme of bookings for 2013.