Ebbw Vale Institute


Ebbw Vale Institute is the oldest Institute in Wales.  It is a Grade II listed building and was built in 1849.  It was in danger of being lost due to the need for extensive refurbishment. In 2007, ProMo Cymru approached the Council to take on the repair and refurbishment, which the owner, Blaenau Gwent CBC, could not commit to funding.  The major task of saving and restoring the historic Institute Building and turning into a sustainable cultural centre of community activity and learning began; which was its original function when it opened its doors as the first educational institute in Wales.  The journey to restore the Institute to its former glory began with initial funding from the Heads of the Valleys Project.



Promo Cymru Ltd, a registered charity, was established in 1982 as South Wales Co-operative Development Association to develop, train and support businesses, utilising co-operative principles and community development aspects wherever possible.  The underpinning themes of ProMo Cymru’s work are to empower, sustain, and develop young people and to sustain and work in partnership with others  the social and economic context for lifelong learning , personal and community development.


The Institute provides the following services:

  • Café – open to the public and offering snacks and meals with free wifi access
  • Training and Workshops – courses include music tuition event, management, art classes and photography. Training facilities can be used for private hire
  • Venue and Licensed Bar – events, concerts, wedding receptions and parties
  • Conference Facilities – full conference facilities including boardroom meeting spaces and breakout rooms
  • Recording Studio – state of the art recording facilities available for tuition, workshops and private hire
  • Rehearsal Rooms – fully equipped music rehearsal rooms and dance studios
  • Video Editing – Apple based video editing suite available for training workshops and private hire
  • Business Incubation – providing hot desk spaces, professional facilities and support for businesses looking to develop and grow

The building is now used for a wide variety of functions including award ceremonies, business meetings, weddings, musical events, training and education, community socialising and much more.

ProMo Cymru work in partnership with a wide range of groups and organisations including Blaenau Gwent  CBC, Communities First, Princes Trust, WEA, Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations, BRFM (community radio station), The Rotary Club, Encorse Academy, Bleanau Gwent Young Stars, Ebbw Vale Operatic Society and Coleg Gwent.


The primary benefits of ProMo Cymru taking ownership of the Ebbw Vale Institute are:

  • The building has been saved as a community facility
  • The change of ownership meant that grant funding could be applied for to not only carry out immediate and necessary work to save the building, but also to refurbish the interior to a high standard including the installation of a café restaurant, a state of the art recording studio, a Main Hall venue for events serving the community and local businesses and training rooms and facilities for educational purposes. As a charity ProMo Cymru have more flexibility in what they can offer in terms of service.  They also have the freedom to apply for grant funding to help maintain and sustain the facility.  This includes the setting up and running of a wide variety of projects including music, drama, adult education and community courses both certified and for pleasure.

Lessons Learned

  • Be flexible in respect of the tenure to transfer
  • The community asset transfer of the EVi required the Council to be more flexible on the tenure they were prepared to transfer. Initially they would only consider a leasehold transfer.  However, the conditions for grant funders investing significant funds such as the Big Lottery specified a freehold transfer.  The Council subsequently ensured that their Community Asset Transfer Policy, whilst making a presumption that transfers would be made on a leasehold basis, still provided the flexibility for a freehold transfer in exceptional circumstances, for example where significant grant funding depended on it.


Manager at EVi

Tel: 01495 708022

This case study is extracted from the Welsh Government National Assets Working Group Making Better Use of our Public Services publication, Community Asset Transfer in Wales – A Best Practice Guide, March 2016

For more information about our Community Asset Transfer 2 Programme Learning Event to Ebbw Vale Institute in May 2017, read the Big Lottery’s Big Blog article here.