Cafes, restaurants and a marina are wanted for a historic Welsh dock

Plans to restore the historic Brunel Dock at Briton Ferry and turn it into a waterfront area and marina have been revived.

The project – still in its very early stages – first needs to get funding for dredging and repairs to the dock, which would then open up the way for further development.

Working on the business case for the multi-million pound restoration is a group of trustees from the Briton Ferry Brunel Dock Trust.

Trust secretary and ward councillor for the area, Hugh James, said: “This is a very exciting project which could develop trade, and most of all, will improve this area.

“The Brunel-built dock is grade two listed and with its heritage has a huge potential for tourism. Isambard Kingdom Brunel was a genius, one of the most important engineers, if not the most important, who has ever lived.

“There is a great interest in the dock and a strong feeling that something should be done to move the project forward, aiming long-term for a waterfront area and marina.”

The trust has recently appointed some new trustees with professional experience in areas such as marketing and grant applications.

The restoration scheme has also been boosted by support from The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, which organised training for some trustees in February on how best to access grant funding.

Mr James said: “There are now 15 trustees and we are having regular meetings. With support from the local authority and commitment from ourselves, we are hoping it will give birth to the regeneration.”

The dock, which dates back to the 1850s, closed in 1959. In 2009, the Brunel Tower was restored, with more recent work including landscaping work and a coastal path.

Ideas for the dock area include cafes and restaurants, a visitor centre and a floating maritime museum based on Brunel and the industrial heritage of the area and surrounding valleys.

The priority is to carry out repairs to the Brunel walls, access the hidden single floating lock gate designed by Brunel’s father and dredge the outer basin.

Mr James said: “The business case is all about allowing the sea water to flow once again into the inner basin, which is now full of overgrowth and weeds.”