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The St Athan's site has been derelict for years but is now up for sale with planning permission in place. In the past this unique site was a thriving holiday village, offering the sons of coal miners of the south Wales valleys a free break, swapping the noise and pollution of living by the pit with time spent in the fresh air near the beaches of the Vale of Glamorgan. The sound of excited youngsters splashing in the swimming pool or a stampede of feet rushing to the canteen for supper would fill the air. Known as St Athan's Boys' Village, now the only sounds are the wind-whistling through broken windows and masonry tumbling off buildings from what's left of the once well-loved site.
After years of vandalism, theft and trespassing since it closed permanently in the site has descended into a derelict state. The site has also suffered a of arson attacks over the years including an incident in May which claimed a of the administration and support buildings. And as with any derelict and spooky-looking windswept site, the stories of hauntings and unexplained sightings have surrounded the location and have grown as unsubstantiated urban myths. The holiday camp was built in by two local visionaries; philanthropist David Davies, the grandson of the celebrated industrialist of the same name who built Barry Docks, and decorated World War I hero Captain John Glynn-Jones.
It was run by the Boys' Club Movement for the poorest youngsters from the valleys to spend some time enjoying being outdoors, playing sport and spending time together. In its heyday, the three-and-a-half acre site's main buildings were a dormitory block for between to boys, a canteen building, a church, a gymnasium, and numerous support buildings, all centred around the war memorial in the middle of a lawned courtyard. The cenotaph was put in place to remember the young men of the south Wales collieries who lost their lives fighting in the two world wars.
Outdoor facilities included cricket pitches and a swimming pool. Over the decades, the holiday camp was also used as a youth hostel, apprentice training centre and a military base during the Second World War, as well as a facility for local children to enjoy during the long summer holidays. The site has had a of royal visits during its lifetime including the H M Queen Mother when she attended the rededication of the onsite church in The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, met the staff at the camp and their children on a visit to the area in But as the coal mining industry began to decline, so did the camp, and for the past few decades it has been abandoned and left to fall into disrepair.
The history of the sale of the site includes as an unsuccessful auction lot in , and the five remaining buildings being offered individually for sale in when outline planning was granted for five detached homes that were never built.
Now, the site is on the market looking for a new owner to breathe life into the remaining buildings, which are due to be either converted or demolished to make way for 15 new homes as per the approved outline plans. According to the estate agent selling the property, in outline planning permission subject to a Section agreement was granted for the demolition of the former dormitory block and fire damaged buildings and the renovation of the church and caretaker's bungalow into residential dwellings.
After a campaign by local residents, in the war memorial was granted a Grade II listing from Cadw as 'a testament to the role the Boys' Village and the Boys' Club movement played in improving the life of the mining communities of south Wales'.
The well-loved memorial is the pivotal centrepoint around which the new homes will be constructed. Situated just outside the Vale of Glamorgan village of West Aberthaw, the new homes will be well-placed for commuting to Cowbridge which is about six miles away and Cardiff, approximately 15 miles away. By Joanne Ridout Property Editor. Get the latest property market news straight to your inbox Invalid Something went wrong, please try again later. Up We use your -up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you.
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Inside the abandoned boys' holiday camp that's being transformed into new homes