Councillor Ron Davies, Caerphilly County Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and countryside, has delivered a keynote speech at a major heritage conference in Cardiff.
Cllr Davies spoke to representatives from across the UK at the Association for Heritage Interpretation annual conference.
This year’s theme for the conference was ‘Making the past work for the future: Interpretation for regeneration and communities.’
Cllr Davies said: “I was very pleased to hear that the Association for Heritage Interpretation was holding its annual conference in Wales this year and delighted that during their stay the delegation visited an area dear to my heart – the valleys of the former South Wales Coalfield.”
He told the conference: “Travel the valleys today and you are hard pressed to find evidence of these once mighty industries. We have done a remarkable job in wiping their history from the face of the earth.
“Can we take the stories of the past, and the legacy of the remnants of this powerful economy and turn them to our advantage by the creation of a new industry? Can we rebuild our economy in part by using our heritage to encourage new generations of visitors to see the valleys in different ways?
“All over Wales the increased use of interpretation as a vital tool for economic regeneration has become commonplace over the past twenty years. In the Caerphilly County Borough there are no more working coal mines, little evidence of the ironworks, but we have been lucky in that we have sufficient buildings to tell the story of the area from the Romans through to the present day.”
As well highlighting the importance of interpreting the past, Cllr Davies also challenged the conference to look to the future and consider climate change and the impact on travel and tourism.
He added: “We all have an important part to play in a next phase of development that will encourage communities to value the resources that surround them, make new investments, and use their own localities to bring a new awareness and appreciation of what the past can teach us as we move forward into a less predictable future.”