WORK on the Folly and Shell Grotto have been completed and the attraction will be open to the public on bank holiday Monday, between 11am-3pm.

The last time the Folly was open to the public was before covid and the Grotto has not been open since Christmas.

The Folly’s windows were repaired along with the reconstruction of the staircase and general internal restoration.

Works at the Grotto included the repairing of the roof, internal wall and repainting of the outside fence.

Volunteer Militza Bajec said: “The Grotto was built in the early 1830s as a romantic garden feature, it is understated on the outside but glorious on the inside.

“Molly Hanbury Leigh was a shell collector, and is believed to have been the designer of the interior.

“Deer bones and teeth as well as fossils are used on the floor of the grotto with the walls containing remnants of moss and vegetation as well as calcite crystals.

“The floor is done in star shapes, circles and hearts, it is a Pontypool tradition to go from the Folly to the Grotto on bank holidays.

Free Press Series: Flooring at the Grotto Flooring at the Grotto

Flooring at the Grotto 

“Standing 700ft above sea level and built with local sandstone, it’s considered to be the best surviving grotto in Wales.

“They are both a positive emblem for the town. It is point of home reference, no matter what happens you have the Folly and Grotto.”

Photographic record is kept of the shells in the Grotto so any damage can be restored to as close to the original as possible.

Both the Folly and Grotto are looked after by Pontypool friends who will be manning the sites on Monday, there are no amenities on either location.

Free Press Series: Entrance to the Grotto Entrance to the Grotto

Entrance to the Grotto 

Ms Bajec, volunteer for three months, said: “Pontypool is my hometown and I have such fond memories of this park as my family who’ve passed used to use it.

“People are passionate about coming from Pontypool, you walk into the park and remember things from when you were little.

“I am a carer for my mum at the moment so I am very much at home, by volunteering it is something I can do to give back that is good for your mental health.

“If people are struggling with something – you can do as little or as much as you want. We need more volunteers just to come for two hours on a Saturday, you can bring someone and we’ll provide the equipment you need to litter pick.”

Originally the Folly was built in 1765 by John Hanbury of Park House Pontypool, at the top you can see seven counties on a clear day.

Reconstructed staircase at the Folly 

Due to the ability of the Luftwaffe being able to use the Folly as a navigation point it was demolished in 1940.

Volunteer of 2 months, Phil Barnes, said: “It was attemped to rebuild the Folly in the late 1940s but failed because focus on the time was to build homes.

Free Press Series: Outside the Folly Outside the Folly

Outside the Folly 

“Rebuilding started in 1990 and was reopened in 1994 by the Prince of Wales.

“The dressed stone comes from an old primary school that was demolished.”