Four-star hotel planned as part of a major redevelopment of a historic beachfront building

An iconic building on Aberystwyth seafront will be able to accommodate hotel guests when a major £36million upgrade is complete.

When completed in mid-2024, the Old College building will provide a major center of learning, heritage, culture and enterprise, as well as four-star hotel accommodation with magnificent views over Cardigan Bay.

In total, the redevelopment will provide activity and event spaces on seven floors and 143 rooms.

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When building work began in the mid-19th century, Old College was intended to become a grand railway hotel, the Castle Hotel.

But when financial difficulties halted construction, the fledgling university bought the site and remodeled the building, opening a college in October 1872 with three teachers and 26 students.

The Grade 1 listed building remained Aberystwyth’s main campus until the 1960s when the majority of teaching moved to the Penglais campus near the National Library of Wales.

Aberystwyth seafront, showing Old College and the pier

Plans for the modernization of the building were first revealed in 2016 and work was due to be completed in time to mark the institution’s 150th anniversary this year. But the Covid-19 pandemic and a series of other delays prevented the project from starting.

The appointment of a main contractor, however, means that work will start in the near future.

Port Talbot-based Andrew Scott Ltd took over the site last week and work began on the project “as soon as all necessary preparatory steps are completed”.

Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “This marks a hugely significant milestone as we deliver on our ambitious plans to breathe new life into this iconic building and establish a cultural and creative hub. milestone for Wales where diverse communities can engage in learning and heritage, share discovery and thrive from enterprise.

“This is indeed a hugely important project for Aberystwyth – both for the university and for the town, economically, socially and culturally.

“The vision has been supported by our partners and alumni who have pledged significant funds to the project.

The iconic Lone Tree at Llyn Padarn, Llanberis, looking towards Snowdonia

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“Our fundraising will now enter a new phase, bigger than ever, in what will very soon be a live building project, reinvigorating our historic Old College.”

The “new” Old College will include a rooftop ballroom and 31 four-star hotel suites, large exhibition and events space, conference rooms, the University Museum and science, business centers and business.

Artists' impressions of how Old College Aberystwyth could be transformed to contain, among other uses, a space centre, library and space for artisans and entrepreneurs
Artist impressions of what the old college might look like when completed

At an event outside Old College, a Welsh oak key was handed over to contractors by Aberystwyth University – symbolizing the transfer of responsibility for the building to start work. The key will be returned to the university once construction is complete.

The university has already secured the vast majority of funding for the project.

However, the university is keeping the Old College Appeal open until construction is complete to raise more money, which will ensure the best possible experience for people visiting Old College and its new attractions.

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