Number 10, The Circle, in Tredegar, is a small building with a big place in the social history of the UK – and that is now set to be celebrated through a £500,000 regeneration project.
For decades prior to the setting up of the National Health Service in July 1948, thousands of people living in Tredegar were able to receive medical care when they required it, through membership of the town’s Medical Aid Society.
The society was famously the blueprint from which Aneurin Bevan – born in the town and its representative in Parliament as MP for Ebbw Vale – developed the idea of the NHS, as minister of health in Labour’s post-Second World War government.
And 10, The Circle was the society’s office for much of its 105-year existence, the place where subscriptions were paid and claims were made, enabling people to be able to access medical care that for many would otherwise have been unaffordable.
In the years since hosting the Medical Aid Society, this unassuming building has occupied a number of other roles, and has also had periods of lying empty.
An old plaque on the wall by its corner door is the only clue for the uninitiated as to its role in the genesis of the NHS.
But the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, which has been involved in other regeneration projects in the town, is now set to convert it into a heritage, education and training centre, having raised £500,000 for the purpose.
The trust has provided match-funding to go with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Townscape Heritage Initiative, the Welsh Government, the European Union’s Building for the Future programme, and a Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council property enhancement grant.
External and internal conservation and refurbishment is required, and the plan is to create a multi-use facility, with a ground floor heritage space for promote the history of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan and Tredegar, with complementary space for education, training and community use.
“Since having been invited to take on this important project in 2017, it has been a struggle to raise all the funding, and in the last few months a race against time to prevent the building being sold at auction and lost to the community,” said Alun Taylor, head of operations for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (Wales).
“However, thanks to the ongoing commitment and financial support from the board of trustees at the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, and the enthusiastic support of partners, we have pressed ahead to purchase the building before all the funding was in place.
“Thankfully we are now ready to make this project a reality, and to help tell the story of the NHS and Aneurin Bevan for all.
“Working alongside partners including Tredegar Local History Museum, Adult Learning Wales, local schools, and town and county councils, we can bring this neglected property back to life, supporting the regeneration of the area and creating an asset that can be used for generations to come.
“We want to give people a space they can work, learn and celebrate the history of Tredegar and the NHS and help regenerate the town centre.”