Old College project to honour Enigma code-breaker

Joy Welch

Joy Welch

A seminar room in Aberystwyth University’s Old College will be dedicated to the memory of a former student who contributed to breaking the Enigma code during the Second World War.

Joy Welch joined Aberystwyth University in 1946 and studied Economics, Geography and Philosophy before graduating in 1950. She died in 2017.

Now, the Educational Charitable Trust she set up in her name in 1988 has contributed £170,000 towards the Old College project, money which will go towards the Joy Welch Seminar Room.

The award takes the total money raised from individuals, trusts and foundations towards the ambitious project to over £4m.

Together with awards from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund, the Coastal Communities Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund and the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund, this takes the total funds raised to over £30m, making it one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in the history of Aberystwyth University.

Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan, Aberystwyth University’s Executive Lead on the Old College project said: “We are delighted to receive the support of the Joy Welch Educational Charitable Trust and its generous donation towards the Old College project.

“The Old College is such an important building for so many people and their generous support for the project clearly reflects this. Our vision for a major new centre for learning, heritage and culture has also resonated with our major funders. Their support is vital to the transformation of the building into an attraction of national significance that will bring considerable economic benefits to Aberystwyth and the surrounding areas.”

“What has been achieved by our fundraising team is quite remarkable. However, the work goes on as we look to fulfil the potential of this most remarkable Grade 1 listed building.”

Information about the Old College Appeal is available online here.

Joy Welsh

Originally from Galgate near Lancaster, Joy Welch volunteered for the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) in 1943 at the age of 17.

Her work at the WRNS took her to Eastcote, an outpost of Bletchley Park, where she operated the machines used to break the German Enigma code.

In 1988 she established the Joy Welch Educational Charitable Trust and the University became a regular beneficiary, reflecting her fond memories of her time at Aberystwyth.

Her long-term support was recognised in 1998 when she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University.

Over the years, the Trust has provided over £400,000 to fund research at Aberystwyth University and on Founders Day this year the University announced the receipt of a new endowment totalling £3.15m from the Trust.

The new fund will provide a minimum of 12 research grants a year for postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers across all disciplines at Aberystwyth University.

New Life for Old College

The £43m project to breathe new life into Old College will provide a major new centre for learning, heritage, culture and enterprise in three themed zones: World of Knowledge, Culture and Community, and Enterprise and Innovation.

Inspired by the University’s motto, World of Knowledge will include a centre celebrating pioneering Science and Research, a University Museum, a Young People’s zone with youth-led activities to boost skills, aspirations and wellbeing, a 24-7 student study centre and a cutting-edge cinema facility.

Traditionally the beating heart of the Old College, the Quad will provide the focus for the Community and Culture zone’s exhibition galleries that will feature curated displays from the University collections and touring exhibitions from major partners. This zone also includes the UK’s first Centre for Dialogue.

The Enterprise and Innovation zone will provide 12 Creative Business Units and communal spaces to encourage young entrepreneurs in creative and digital businesses.

Once completed the Old College is expected to attract 200,000 visitors and contribute up to £14.5m annually to the local economy, putting it on par with major tourist destinations such as Caernarfon and Conwy castles.

Up to 130 jobs will be created directly and indirectly and there will also be more than 400 volunteering opportunities.  There will be 4* hotel accommodation, bars, cafes and spaces for activities and events across 7 floors and 143 rooms, including a dramatic function room for 200 people with spectacular views across Cardigan Bay.

Phase 1, which involves the Old College itself and the Georgian villas (1 & 2 Marine Terrace), is expected to be completed around the end of 2025.

Phase 2, The Cambria, is expected to be completed by late 2026.