Another significant step in the revival of the narrow gauge Corris Railway in Mid Wales was achieved on Saturday.
A new traverser at Corris Railway Station was used for the first time to allow a steam engine to run round a set of passenger carriages. This will be a regular feature from the Easter weekend when the line begins its 2022 passenger services.
The first locomotive to be moved on the traverser was the Ruston and Hornsby four wheel diesel hydraulic number 6, which already holds a place in the railway’s history as having worked the initial passenger trains after re-opening between 2003-‘05.
Having passed a live steam test, after annual maintenance, the Corris’ Tattoo 0-4-2 saddle tank locomotive took a train of carriages from Maespoeth Junction to Corris.
After uncoupling from the train, the locomotive ran onto the newly installed traverser, on which it was moved to the new run round loop track. It then ran in reverse to the other end of the coaching stock before the train returned to the junction.
This was the culmination of work which began after the railway had run its 2021 Santa Trains and which saw track relaid between the Braich Goch Farm crossing and the station, where the loop and a new platform were created.
The traverser, constructed by Statfold Engineering, near Tamworth, will allow locomotives to be at the head of their trains in both directions on the railway for the first time since 1948 when the original line closed.
The station rebuild is part of ongoing work to revive the oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales. The original Corris station was demolished in 1968.
Due to site restrictions, it’s impossible to replicate the former station but the new structure will eventually include an overall roof, a feature that made its predecessor an iconic part of the British narrow gauge scene.
Further progress will require considerable funds to be raised via donations and grants. Donations can be made online via www.corris.co.uk or cheques, payable to Corris Railway, can be sent to Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, SY20 9SH.
Corris Railway’s Ruston and Hornsby number 6 testing the new traverser.
Image: Patrick Jolley, Corris Railway.
Bar 45, a new gin bar owned by award-winning local distillery In the Welsh Wind, has opened at 45 St Mary Street, adding to the thriving food and drink scene in Cardigan.
Formerly the Bara Menyn bakehouse, which has relocated to new premises on the corner of St Mary Street and Chancery Lane, Bar 45 is a must for gin lovers.
The bar stocks the full range of In the Welsh Wind and Eccentric gins and offers a carefully selected cocktail menu showcasing the different gins available. Alongside gin, Bar 45 stock a range of bottled and canned beers from local breweries.
Customers can also enjoy a selection of wines by the glass or the bottle and the Bar 45 team has exciting plans for the spring and summer.
Molly Smith, bar supervisor, explains: “It’s been really exciting getting Bar 45 up and running and we’re looking forward to welcoming more people through the doors over the next few months.
“Alongside premium spirits, wines and beers, we offer our gin tasting boards and there are regular opportunities for people to create their own unique bottle of gin in a gin blending experience.
“The courtyard garden will be open for people to enjoy and we’ve got regular cocktail evenings and other events planned. We can also hire the space out for private parties.”
Distillery co-founder and director Ellen Wakelam said: “Opening a bar in this beautiful building is something of a dream for us. After Bara Menyn moved out, it stood empty for some time, so when we had the opportunity to move in, we jumped at the chance.
“It’s a lovely, intimate venue and a great way to bring our award-winning spirits to more people, both locally and to visitors.”
Bar 45 is also open as a bottle shop, so customers can pick up a bottle of locally distilled gin, buy a gin making or gin tasting voucher, or In the Welsh Wind merchandise. Gin Blending experiences are available for people to create their own unique bottle of gin.
Bar 45 is open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 2.30pm to 11pm, with plans to open from 11am in the next few weeks.
Ellen Wakelam and Molly Smith at Bar 45, St Mary Street, Cardigan
Reigning British Rally champion Matt Edwards stormed to a National win at Saturday’s WKD Trained Dogs Rally North Wales after a gruelling day in the forests surrounding the Dolgellau rally base.
Edwards, from Conwy and co-driver Hamish Campbell blasted their FIAT 131 Abarth to a nail-biting Historic category win in the National Rally.
Matt Hirst and co-driver Declan Dear made it back-to-back Interclub victories, taking their Ford Fiesta R5 to six fastest times in a fine display during what would be a difficult day of competition for many crews.
The popular motorsport event, sponsored by leading multi-disciplined dog training firm WKD Trained Dogs, returned after a two-year break due to the pandemic with a bumper entry of around 160 crews tackling eight stages of classic Welsh tests in the Dyfi, Gartheiniog and Pantperthog forests.
Organised by Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Car Club, Rally North Wales attracted some of the biggest championships in the UK. The Fuchs Lubricants Motorsport UK British Historic Rally Championship contenders utilised the National event.
Crews in the Pirelli Ravenol Motorsport UK Welsh Rally, ANWCC Forest Rally Championship and Bowler Defender Challenge contested the Interclub section.
Competitors in the MINI Challenge tackled a shorter, more cost-effective rally during the day, only contesting the opening four-stage loop, designed as the perfect introduction to forest rallying.
British champion Matt Edwards has embarked on a Historic campaign in 2022, developing a FIAT 131 Abarth for RSD Developments. He pushed previous Rally North Wales winner Nick Elliott all day long.
Elliott entered the mid-point on top of the leader board, but a puncture set him back, leaving Edwards to take the lead. Despite suspension issues of his own, Edwards performed impeccably over the afternoon tests to score his maiden BHRC victory.
Elliott salvaged second place whilst Hereford’s Roger Chilman and co-driver Patrick Walsh took third after a fierce encounter with Ludlow’s Henri Grehan and Dan Petrie. Both driving Ford Escort’s, just five seconds separated the two after eight blistering stages.
In the Interclub category, Hirst, driving his new Fiesta R5, was locked in a fight with Lampeter’s Dylan Davies and Mark Glenerster in their Skoda Fabia R5. But he had the upper hand to seal his second Rally North Wales win, adding to his 2019 victory and claiming maximum Welsh Rally Championship points in the process
Davies took runner up spot whilst Mitsubishi Mirage R5 pilot Tom Llewellin and co-driver Dale Bowen sealed the final podium spot.
James Bond stunt driver and three-time British champion Mark Higgins secured the Bowler Defender Challenge honours, co-driven by Claire Williams, whilst Mick Smith and Paul Stringer sealed the MINI Challenge victory.
Full results can be found at www.rallynorthwales.co.uk
Image credits Russ Otway - 90Right -
A Mid Wales railway claimed a major accolade and at the Heritage Railway Association (HRA) Annual Awards in Birmingham earlier this month.
To mark 70 years of preservation, Talyllyn Railway was presented with the Manisty Award for Excellence. The most prestigious award given by the HRA, the accolade was presented to honour the enormous contribution that the Tywyn-based narrow gauge line has made to the whole heritage railway sector and the inspiration it has provided to others for seven decades.
His experiences on the Talyllyn inspired him to create the fictitious Skarloey Railway which became the subject of an additional series of children’s books within his ‘Railway Series’.
General manager, Stuart Williams, said the railway was delighted to win the prestigious Peter Manisty Award, celebrating its first 70 years of preservation.
“The award is testament both to the original volunteers who had the vision to rescue the railway from certain closure and to the countless volunteers who have worked over the years to develop and preserve it,” he added.
“Tom Rolt and his protagonists surely would be delighted to know that the preservation movement that they began would blossom into the Heritage Railway movement we all enjoy today.”
Steve Oates, HRA chief executive, said: “This awards event means a huge amount to the heritage rail sector. It’s our chance to celebrate the railways and individuals who have gone above and beyond to deliver the quality, experience, ingenuity and passion that heritage railways depend upon.
“It has also been a great opportunity to look back to the birth of heritage rail and take new inspiration from the massive success that the Talyllyn spearheaded all those years ago.
“After another really tough 12-months, not just for heritage railways but for the whole country, it’s been immensely satisfying to see and hear what a fantastic job volunteers and staff across the industry have been doing. It fills me with pride and with optimism that we will overcome whatever challenges face us next.”
The evening was hosted by Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways general manager Paul Lewin with guest speaker Tim Dunn, of railway documentary fame.
The awards saw a record-breaking number of entries, with more than 75 submissions covering almost every element of railway preservation in the UK.
Heritage Railway Association chairman Brian Simpson presents the Manisty Award for Excellence to Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society chairman Jon Mann watched by (from left) guest speaker Tim Dunn, Talyllyn Railway board member Lis Mann, engineering manager Chris Smith, media creator Luke Ryan, general manager Stuart Williams and Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society member John Robinson.
The Manisty Award for Excellence.
Mid Wales branch of The British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA), which represents 3,000 holiday, residential, tenting, touring and glamping parks across the UK, has a new director.
Dylan Roberts steps up from his previous role as branch secretary to take over from Richard Rhodes, owner of Plas Dolguog Estates Ltd and a director of Garth Holiday Park, Machynlleth, who had been director since 1999.
Mr Roberts, who lives in Bow Street, near Aberystwyth, is a director of Salop Caravan Sites and Bywater Leisure Parks and co-managing director of caravan and motorhome dealership Salop Leisure, which is based in Shrewsbury but has sales centres in Machynlleth and Stourport-on-Severn.
The BH&HPA lobbies and represents members' interests to government and policymakers at all levels. Its strategy is directed by park owners and managers to provide services tailored to the needs of the industry.
Mr Roberts, who has worked for Salop Leisure for 32 years and has been involved in the industry for 39 years, said: “It’s an honour to represent the Mid Wales branch as director and to sit on the board of the BH&HPA.
“I look forward to serving members in Mid Wales to the best of my ability to ensure that their voices are heard on the main board as the industry continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
“It’s important that the association is consulted by governments at all levels when legislation that affects parks is being considered.
“I shall be looking to develop the social side of the branch, providing opportunities for members to meet up, to visit parks and to share ideas and best practice. The BH&HPA seeks to maintain high standards and we are very fortunate here in Mid Wales to have so many top quality parks.”
Praising his predecessor, he said: “Richard has served Mid Wales diligently as director for more than 20 years and has done a sterling job looking after the interests of member parks in the region. I shall endeavour to continue his dedication and hard work to benefit members.”
Mr Roberts is also a director of MWT Cymru and a member of the Caravan and Camping Forum for Wales and the Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum.
A qualified engineer originally from Yorkshire, Mr Rhodes bought Garth Holiday Park after a job he had secured at a technical college in Peru fell through the week before he was due to travel.
He has grown the park from 30 caravans to 149 holiday units which are now run by his youngest son, Edward.
During his time as BH&HPA Mid Wales branch director, Mr Rhodes became closely involved with the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme. With his late wife, Diana, he created Grandma’s Garden at Garth Holiday Park which won a gold award and a special award of distinction from the scheme.
“It has been a privilege to be director since 1999 and I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said. “The BH&HPA has expanded and what a good job it has done to bring parks together to network, which is very important.
“I am happy that Dylan will now add to what I have done as director to continue to strengthen the association.”
During the pandemic, Mr Rhodes has written his life story which he hopes to have published later this year.
Richard Rhodes (right) with an inscribed paperweight from the BH&HPA presented to him by Dylan Roberts, his successor Mid Wales branch director.
Organisers of the Mid Wales Autumn Fayre, which is set to return to the Royal Welsh Showground at Builth Wells on the weekend of October 29-30, are reporting a great response from exhibitors.
The event, organised by Andrew Powell with support from Cambrian Training Company, aims to be a celebration of food and drink, arts and crafts. There will also be a Truck Fest with up to 100 lorries and classic tractors, cars and motorcycles, including motorsports models.
Already confirmed are a cookery demo kitchen, a pop-up restaurant, street food vendors and a Choir Corner, with choirs performing live over the two days.
Sponsors already confirmed for the event include the Welsh Government, Cambrian Training Company and Castell Howell Foods.
Four halls on the Royal Welsh Showground have been reserved for the two-day event, which was organised by Andrew, with support from Cambrian Training Company, in just five weeks last year, yet still attracted 6,500 visitors.
Andrew is hoping for at least 10,000 visitors this year, with tickets priced at £6 per day, with admission free for children 12 years and under.
More than half 60 exhibitor space in the Food and Drink Hall are booked already and the Arts and Crafts Hall is closing in on 40 exhibitors.
Seventy-five lorries from across Wales took part in last year’s popular Truck Fest, with Mr Powell confident of increasing the number this time. He’s also keen to hear from owners of classic tractors, cars, motorcycles and motorsports vehicles.
Up to 10 Welsh charities will be offered free exhibition space as the Mid Wales Autumn Fayre aims to become the fourth biggest show held on the showground. The closing date for entries is May 31, 2022.
“We are aiming to make this a great weekend for Welsh food and drink, arts and crafts and everyone interested in lorries and classic tractors, cars and motorcycles,” said Andrew, who previously organised the successful Brecon Beacons Food Festival.
“We are delighted with the enthusiastic response from exhibitors since this year’s event dates were announced. We want people to come and have a good time after the challenges of the las two years.
“It’s all about generating money to help the Welsh economy bounce back after the pandemic.”
Arwyn Watkins, Cambrian Training Company’s managing director, said: “We see the Mid Wales Autumn Fayre as a market place for food, crafts and skills and an opportunity for a fun family day out.
“It also creates an environment for parents to have a conversation with their children about career opportunities within the food and drink sector in Wales.”
To book a space or to receive more information about the event, please contact email@example.com or call 07779 012019.
Image credit: Zoe Matthias.
Two stunning and unique exhibitions will feature as Wonderwool Wales 2022 returns next month after an absence of two years during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Buoyed by support from the Wales Cultural Recovery Fund, the organisers are looking forward to welcoming visitors to the 16th show at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells on the weekend of April 23 and 24.
Tickets, costing £12 per day or £22 for the weekend, must be purchased online in advance at www.wonderwoolwales.co.uk. There will be no tickets for sale at the gate.
Celebrating all that’s great about Welsh wool and natural fibres, Wonderwool Wales 2022 will feature special exhibitions in Hall 3. Visitors will have the chance to see work created by Coleg Sir Gâr’s Carmarthen School of Art textiles students and graduates throughout the pandemic and a zany, hand crafted interpretation of Alice in Wonderland.
Lockdowns and disruption did not stop creativity at Carmarthen School of Art. Supported by the art college throughout the pandemic, students kept working on their briefs at home to create exciting and challenging work.
Visitors can expect to see an insight into their design process as well as beautiful textile outcomes in knit, weave and mixed media.
Coleg Sir Gâr’s BA Textile Programme director Nia Lewis said: “Wonderwool Wales has always been hugely supportive of our graduates and we are delighted to have this opportunity to showcase the work undertaken through this time. We are so proud of our students’ resilience and creativity.”
The Wonderwool Wales Bursary has been running for several years, awarded to a BA Textiles Knitting & Weaving graduate.
Show visitors will meet a manic and frantic white rabbit that is always late, a perpetually grinning Cheshire cat and a contemptuous caterpillar. As their adventures are set in Wonderwool, all of the characters are made using felt and fibre.
The characters, scenery and flowers, food, crockery and woodland creatures are made of a mixture of wet and needle felt techniques, knitting and crochet with a bit of sewing and embroidery thrown in.
With several new faces amongst the 210 exhibitors, there will be plenty for visitors to see and do at Wonderwool Wales, which was judged best event in Mid Wales at the inaugural Mid Wales Tourism Awards in 2019.
The show was also Highly Commended for the last two years in the Best Event category at the Let’s Knit British Knitting & Crochet Awards.
The organisers are aiming to fill the halls with beautiful, hand dyed yarns and fibre, along with equipment and quality finished products, giving visitors an opportunity to stock up on supplies.
For those seeking creative inspiration, there will be demonstrations and have-a-go sessions hosted by some exhibitors. When the shopping is done, there will be plenty of tea and coffee stops and a tempting selection of refreshments from Street Food vendors.
Visitors can also pre-book to attend one of the ever-popular Woolschool workshops and learn or perfect their skills with help from an expert.
“We’ve gathered together a range of skilled tutors to lead a choice of four morning and five afternoon workshops on both days,” said Chrissie Menzies, a director of Wonderwool Wales. “The topics have been carefully chosen to appeal to a wide range of interests and levels of ability – there should be something for everyone.”
The Woolschool workshops include the following morning sessions: Spinning with a spindle for beginners led by Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth, Colour wheel Bargello with Tina Francis, Needlefelting with Sam Loughlin from Mum’s Makery and Delightful decorative crochet baby boots with wool felt soles led by Amanda Blackwell from Joe’s Toes.
The topics for the afternoon workshops are: Creative freeform knitting and crochet with Lisette Webley, Core spinning for light and airy textured yarn with Amanda Hannaford, Beautiful bee buttons and brooches with Lydia Needle, Natural weave macrame wall hangings with Alice Thomas and Wet felting – ‘The Solitary Tree’ with Susan Mulcock.
Developed to promote the market for Welsh wool and natural fibres, Wonderwool Wales was first held in 2006 and has grown in scale and popularity alongside a knitting, crochet, felting and textile craft making boom.
Find out more about the 2022 show at www.wonderwoolwales.co.uk or like Wonderwool Wales Ltd on Facebook or follow on Twitter @wonderwoolwales
Some of the characters from the Alice in Wonderwool exhibition.
Teeswater sheep at a previous Wonderwool Wales.
Image by John Teale Photography.
The Dolgellau-based WKD Trained Dogs Rally North Wales returns after a two-year hiatus on Saturday (March 26), boasting a bumper and star-studded entry.
Organised by Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Car Club, Rally North Wales will see around 160 cars tackle eight stages in the Dyfi, Gartheiniog and Pantperthog forests as an impressive line-up of competitors head to the market town for the annual event.
Sponsored by leading multi-disciplined dog training firm WKD Trained Dogs, the rally will see crews flagged away from Gwyndaf Evans Motors at 8.30am before heading out into the woods for 44 miles of competitive action throughout the day.
Bolstered by some of the biggest championships in the UK, the event will welcome the Fuchs Lubricants Motorsport UK British Historic Rally Championship to the region. Often marked as the fans favourite, the series provides a truly classic flavour and boasts an entertaining list of entries set to tackle the rally.
The Pirelli Ravenol Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship brings a wide variety of modern machinery to the fold as does the ANWCC Forest Rally Championship. The impressive Bowler Defender Challenge will tackle their first stage rally of the season in the all-new Land Rover Defender, whilst the BMW Mini Challenge crews tackle a shorter, more cost-effective rally during the day.
Over 60 historics will blast through the forests during the day and the top seeds are Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis in their Ford Escort MKII. With one win already under their belt this season, the pairing was in a league of their own on home soil in February but will be eager to maintain that speed on the super-fast Welsh stages.
Hot on their heels will be two-time Rally North Wales Historic winner Nick Elliott. Also in an Escort, Elliott enjoys an impressive record on the event and will be aiming for a hat-trick of wins with Dave Robson occupying the co-driver’s seat for the event.
They will be chased by 2021 British Historic Rally champions Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons whilst Adrian Hetherington and Ronan O’Neil make the trip across the Irish Sea to tackle the event.
Rally North Wales will also welcome a record-breaking, three-time British Rally Champion Matt Edwards, who will contest his first rally since winning his third British title.
Changing to historic machinery, he drives the spectacular Fiat 131 Abarth with Hamish Campbell on the notes. Their presence will undoubtedly be a huge draw for the fans as the forests echo to the unique machine.
Four-wheel-drive contenders are also in abundance this year with 2019 Interclub event winners Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear heading the field in their Ford Fiesta R5. Having won last time out in an ageing Mitsubishi, Hirst’s new machinery should put him in good stead for 2022.
However, an impressive list of contenders follows on, including Mid Wales based Dylan Davies and Mark Glennerster in their Skoda Fabia R5 and Mitsubishi Mirage R5 pilot Tom Llewellin partnered by Dale Bowen.
A late entry from British Rally Championship contender and 2012 event winner Tom Cave will certainly keep the front-runners on their toes. Dale Furniss will co-drive in the Subaru Impreza.
The Bowler Defender Challenge also brings 14 impressive Land Rovers to the event, with James Bond stunt driver and three-time British Champion Mark Higgins leading the field. Co-driven by Claire Williams, Higgins will contest his first rally in the UK since 2016.
Crews in two-wheel-drive machinery will run at the head of the field in a reverse seeded format, with a short gap separating them from the four-wheel-drive contenders. Spectators will be well catered for, with plenty of opportunities to catch the action throughout the day.
There are superb viewing locations at the Dyfi, Big Ray and Gartheiniog stages with entry to each location costing £10 per car.
Full spectator information and entry list is available on the event website at www.rallynorthwales.co.uk
Matthew Hirst, last year’s Interclub winner in his Evo.
Image credits Russ Otway - 90Right
Corris Railway needs to raise £36,000 to have its new locomotive Falcon number 10 in steam, but not ready for traffic, on September 24.
The date coincides with the 50th anniversary open day of Alan Keef Ltd, of Ross-on-Wye, who are building the new loco. Earlier this year, the railway was forced to pause work while its loco building fund was replenished.
The locomotive’s wheels and motion are complete an, the boiler has been placed in the frames, the cab erected and the smokebox and other components have been manufactured.
To reduce costs, Corris Railway Society volunteers with engineering skills will now make various components, including the saddle tank, fire hole door mechanism, ashpan and finish the cab, amongst other jobs.
Volunteers have already produced components for the brake gear and, during the pause in work at Keef’s, have been working on safety valve components.
Barr and Grosvenor of Wolverhampton has also produced components for the safety valve equipment. Four springs, including spares, for the safety valve assembly have been supplied at a cost of £75 and can be sponsored, along with other components, on the Falcon Locomotive section of the railway’s website www.corris.co.uk .
One-off donations towards the September steaming costs can also be made on the website or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS.
Other components, including air pumps for braking, together with sanding gear and painting, will be required to have the engine in service on the revived section of the railway in the Dulas Valley, north of Machynlleth. An extra £40,000 to be raised for this phase.
If the targets are reached, 2023 will see two Corris Railway owned steam locomotives at work for the first time since the GWR purchased the railway in 1930. There will be a short window before Tattoo 0-4-2ST number 7 falls due for its next 10 year overhaul in 2024.
Work is resuming on steam locomotive Falcon number 10
Jan, who prides herself on her attention to detail, said: “I am very excited about this event and we have already had lots of interest. I love to make traditional puddings and more contemporary sweet treats, so this paired with our winning wines should make for a fantastic evening.”
Situated on the rural Shropshire border with Wales, Kerry Vale Vineyard was planted in 2010, covers six acres of farmland and resides at the eastern tip of the Vale of Kerry.
Tickets for evening are £40 per adult and can be purchased at Kerry Vale Vineyard’s shop, by calling 01588 620627 or online at www.kerryvalevineyard.co.uk.
Janet Cooke with one of her creations.
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