The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway will return to operating trains over its full length on selected days in September, following a successful reopening in August in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The major Mid Wales tourist attraction resumed services on August 1, five months later than its originally scheduled start of the 2020 season in April, and running over half of the eight-mile line between Llanfair Caereinion and Castle Caereinion.
These services will continue on five days a week throughout September and the line will add special trains all the way to its Welshpool Raven Square terminus on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting on September 9.
Visitors to the scenic heritage attraction will be able once again to experience the full 16-mile journey and enjoy the steam locomotive working hard up the 1 in 29 Golfa bank out of Welshpool, one of the steepest gradients in the British Isles.
This section of the railway has been closed since lockdown in March, but volunteers have worked hard to finish the ‘winter’ maintenance work and bring the line back into service.
“We are delighted that so many visitors enjoyed our trips to Castle Caereinion and back during August, with most of our trains selling out,” said the railway’s general manager Charles Spencer.
“Our September service continues to offer the family-friendly, one-hour return journey to Castle, while we hope enthusiasts will be pleased that we have answered their requests for the full two-hour journey to Welshpool again.”
The special trips to Welshpool will be subject to a modest minimum fare to ensure costs of the longer journey are covered, but a discounted family rate will be available and the child fare is unchanged.
Some spaces on trains to Castle Caereinion continue to be earmarked for advance W&LLR member bookings but initially there will be no free member travel available on the trains to Welshpool.
Advance booking is strongly recommended on all services as capacity is limited to provide social distancing. Visitors can turn up at Llanfair Caereinion in the hope of buying a ticket on the day, but many trains are sold out before the day they run.
All departures are from Llanfair Caereinion for return journeys only and there will be no vehicle access to Raven Square station. Full details and online booking for Castle trains are on the website at www.wllr.org.uk. To book for the specials to Welshpool, call the railway’s office on 01938 810441 from Tuesday to Thursday and at weekends, 9am to 4.30pm.
The Covid-19 measures that have worked well over the past month of operating will continue to be applied. A strict one-way system remains in operation at Llanfair station. The railway’s shop will be open and hot and cold refreshments are available to enjoy in the marquee, take on the train or take away.
Everyone attending the railway, visitors and staff, are required to wear face coverings and all trains will be cleaned between trips. A host of further cleaning measures have been carried out and there will be hand sanitisers widely available.
“All of us at the railway have been both delighted at the number of visitors that have come to ride our trains in August, and gratified at their appreciation of the Covid-19 measures we have taken to keep them safe without spoiling their day out,” added Charles.
“We hope our enhanced services in September will please both families and enthusiasts.”
Plans are in the works for continued train services in October and railway volunteers are also planning how to host Santa safely for his ever popular December visits. Watch the website for announcements.
Trains will be steaming out of Welshpool again in September.
Photo: Dan Abbott, W&LLR
Carrie Canham, Ceredigion Museum curator, said: “The museum is delighted to receive the grant. The digital quilt will record the experiences of the people of Ceredigion during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The project will also give us an opportunity to consult with communities about how we can best serve them going forward, as we learn to live with measures to control the infection rate.”
The museum will be creating two quilts for the ‘Human Threads: Welsh quilts’ exhibition, one physical and one digital. Contributors to the digital quilt have been asked to send in photos, sound pieces, films, poems or drawings, with an explanation of why they sent their contribution, what it means to them and the story it tells.
An artist will work with communities currently under-represented in the museum to make sure their voices are heard.
Rose Thorn sent photos of a quilt to go within the digital quilt. “This design has layers of personal meaning for me: The central triangle marks the colonial slave trade which is part of my ancestral heritage,” she said.
“The Black Lives Matter movement stirred up many black people’s experiences of racism here in the UK. I went on the march in Cardigan with my partner, Marie Lewis and 150 people attended, which was heartening but a lot has to change.
“The period of lockdown has put me deeply in touch with living in the present, my past and thinking about how I want to live in the future.”
Considering the values people feel they may want to leave in the past and those they want to take into our new future will be part of the exhibition process by asking questions of participants and visitors and facilitating discussions between different communities
The museum is still collecting contributions to both quilts. The deadlines for the physical quilt patches and digital quilt are October 2 and November 27 respectively.
The museum wants the quilt to reflect a broad range of experiences, positive and challenging, across Ceredigion - from those working on the front line and those working at home to those embracing new skills, from parents turned home-school teachers to the older generations adopting online get-togethers and young people partying online.
Contributors can send their voices, videos, photographs, poetry, drawings, soundscapes and songs to firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Fund’s Respond and Reimagine grants offer flexible and responsive funding designed to meet immediate challenges connected to the Covid-19 crisis and reimagine future ways of working.
In the first round, 18 grants were given from a total of 114 applications. Developed in consultation with museums and galleries, the grants meet needs in four priority areas of collections, audiences, digital and workforce. They may also cover costs to support reopening, as well as encouraging creative and innovative projects as organisations look to reopen with fundamentally different operating models.
Respond and Reimagine Grants will provide £1.5m in 2020 to support museums, galleries, historic houses, libraries and archives and non-venue-based visual arts organisations. They are part of Art Fund’s £2m package of funding to support museums through crisis.
The deadline for the latest round of Respond and Reimagine grants was August 17 and a final round will be in the autumn.
Image: Detail from Rose Thorn’s quilt which symbolises the colonial slave trade.
The sparkling Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture in Mid Wales will open its doors to the public again on August Bank Holiday Saturday, August 29 at 10am.
Booking is essential to see the results of a visitor improvement project at the museum, the finalisation of which was affected by Covid-19. The museum is located in the pretty village of Berriew, near Welshpool.
“After months of uncertainty, we are thrilled to have in place safety measures and be able to re-open,” said museum manager Anne-Marie Pope. “As part of keeping everyone safe, we have introduced a 45 minute slot booking system, with spaces for two support or bubble groups per hour.
“This will allow for social distancing and touchpoint cleaning at the end of each hour. We are also planning to keep open for bookings until December, giving everyone a chance to see the literally sparkling results of our visitor improvement project.”
Safety measures were made possible by funding from the Arts Council Wales which, together with resilience funding also from the same organisation and the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries in Wales, have enabled the museum’s survival.
To book tickets visit ticketsource.co.uk/almos or call 0333 666 3366.
The museum will celebrate 30 years of bringing joy through its exhibits, workshops and outreach programmes in 2022.
Andrew Logan became a key figure in the London art scene, alongside David Hockney, Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood and Derek Jarman, in the 1970s.
He hosted such legendary and influential events as the Alternative Miss World -inaugural show in 1972 - and the Valentine’s Day Ball when the Sex Pistols played their first gig.
In the 1970s, icons such as Julie Christie, Mike Oldfield, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithful, Ronnie Lane and Robert Plant, established retreats in the Welsh Marches.
Logan and partner Michael Davies, chair of ALMoS, visited their friends in the Marches many times.
In the late 1980s, they decided to present his work outside of London - in the small rural village of Berriew. This unexpected location became the nation’s first museum dedicated to a living artist.
Picture caption: Some of the exhibits awaiting visitors to the Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture.
The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth will reopen one of its reading rooms from Tuesday, September 1.
By welcoming back its users, the library will provide a limited service and access to its collections, with new measures in place to protect readers, researchers and staff. This will mean limited opening hours, booking system for visitors, one-way routes throughout the building, social distancing and a regular and thorough cleaning schedule.
In addition, the library will operate a quarantine system for our collections as we endeavour to provide safe access to them.
Initially, only reading room services will be available within the building. However, the public may continue to search the library’s collections on its website and make use of its range of online resources.
The library is exploring the possibility of reopening its exhibitions and continuing the education service and volunteering programme in the near future. For the time being, Caffi Pen Dinas will remain closed. However, it is possible that a limited service will be available from mid-September onwards.
The Library’s commercial reprographic services have been available since August 1.
To receive the latest updates, visitors can follow The National Library of Wales on social media or visit its website to access further details on what to expect as the Library reopens after lockdown.
Pedr ap Llwyd, the library’s chief executive and librarian, said: “I am very much looking forward to being able to start welcoming the public back to the reading room from September 1.
“Although the Library has remained digitally open throughout the lockout period, I am well aware that many of our users are keen to be able to return to the building to work. Although the circumstances will have to be different in order to protect everyone, the welcome will be as warm as ever.”
Over the past few months, Hywel Dda Health Board has stored many of its medical records within the library, and NHS staff have made extensive use of the building's car park. The library was delighted to show its support to the NHS by lighting the building blue weekly.
As the home to the nation's memory, the library continues to collect Wales’ Covid Experience. These various records include newspapers, official publications and website content, as well as the nation's personal materials, such as letters, poems and photographs.
Library security staff have worked on site throughout the lock-up period, and many other employees have continued to work from home. A small portion of the library's workforce has started returning to the building since July 20.
The library continues to run a weekly programme of online events and presentations, sharing information on its rich and diverse collections, through the expertise of its curatorial staff.
The National Library of Wales.
Talyllyn Railway in Mid Wales reopened on Saturday after the COVD-19 pandemic lockdown had halted steam train services for 20 weeks.
The first public train since February on the world’s first preserved railway was waved off from Wharf Station, Tywyn by local MP, Liz Saville-Roberts, at 10.30am, with carefully designed social distancing arrangements for travel.
Fittingly, the train was hauled by Locomotive No.2, ‘Dolgoch’, which has been in service on the railway since 1866 and was used for the first ever train in railway preservation in 1951.
David Ventry, Talyllyn Railway Board chairman and safety director, said the railway had run four days of ‘Shakedown’ trains last week to test out all of the risk assessments and the briefings drawn up for staff and volunteers.
General manager, Stuart Williams, said he was delighted that Mrs Saville-Roberts was able to see the first train off, noting that she had the distinction of being the MP with the most heritage railways in her constituency.
As co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Heritage Rail, she said during the CV19 emergency, the group had contacted every MP with a heritage railway in their constituency.
The group wanted to ensure that these “good businesses” got through this season, knowing that heritage railways had been very dependent on the furlough scheme.
Many heritage railways, along with the wider tourism and catering industries, had a business model that was built around having a high summer income which, due to the lockdown, had now lost around 60% or more of this year’s season, she added.
In response to these challenges, Mr Williams said Talyllyn Railway was extending its autumn running season this year and was also making the most of the Government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.
Normally the railway would close at the end of October, but this year trains will run daily until the end of November and passengers will be able to enjoy heated carriages.
The railway will continue operating every day for the rest of this season, but pre-booking is now essential before travelling. For full information check the railway’s website www.talyllyn.co.uk
Essential maintenance has been needed to the railway after several months of disuse, while a host of coronavirus protective measures have been set up.
Initially the railway will operate daily services over half its route, from Llanfair Caereinion to Castle Caereinion. “Because social distancing measures will greatly reduce the capacity of each train, we are running more trains over a shorter distance initially to ensure we can offer rides to as many visitors as possible,” said railway spokesman Andrew Charman.
“We are determined to return to running services over the full line as soon as we can. In the meantime, the Llanfair-Castle section has lovely views along the Banwy River and a steady climb through fields and woodlands, which visitors can enjoy from the large windows in our carriages and on the open-air balconies.”
The initial timetable will consist of four trains per day at 10.30am, 12.10pm, 1.50pm and 3.30pm. Passenger must pre-book tickets through the railway’s website at www.wllr.org.uk .
Train capacity is severely limited and tightly controlled to maintain social distancing, and pre-booking online will be the only way to guarantee being able to travel.
A one-way system is in operation at Llanfair station and all services will be return trips – passengers will not be able to board or alight at Castle Caereinion. On return to Llanfair, the railway’s shop will be open and hot and cold takeaway refreshments available.
All people attending the railway, visitors and staff, will be required to wear face coverings, as on mainline railways, and trains will be cleaned between trips. A host of further cleaning measures have been carried out and there will be hand sanitisers widely available.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of revenue that has resulted from it has proved very challenging,” added Mr Charman. “But in that time we have been most grateful to the donations to our fundraising appeal and the grant aid afforded to us, but equally to the many positive comments, phone messages and emails, telling us how much our trains are missed and hoping we would be opening again soon.”
Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s steam trains are back in service following lockdown.
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