Steam trains are set to return to the Banwy Valley from May 1, as the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway runs its first public services of 2021.
The reopening of the Mid Wales tourist attraction, which remains subject to the continuing easing of Covid restrictions by the Welsh Government, follows five months of closure, during which the Llanfair line’s popular Christmas Santa Specials and February half-term services all fell victim to the lockdown.
The line’s early-season timetable features a variety of one and two-hour return journeys, with new-for-2021 innovations including travelling first class, alongside returning favourites from previous seasons, such as the popular fish-and-chip specials.
Return trips from Llanfair Caereinion to the intermediate station of Castle Caereinion will start from May 1, operating on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, plus every day during the spring half-term holiday between May 31 and June 6.
These one-hour long round trips proved particularly popular with families when the railway ran them last season.
Trains over the full eight-mile line to Welshpool will start running from May 4, the two-hour return trips operating on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Due to current Covid restrictions, all journeys will continue to start from Llanfair Caereinion and visitors will not be able to join the train at Welshpool.
Among several innovations launching this year, every travelling child aged three or over will receive a Discovery book full of interesting facts and activities with their ticket.
Visitors will also now be able to travel in enhanced luxury – the Llanfair line’s former Sierra Leone Railway first-class carriage, with its white leather armchairs, will be rostered on every passenger service.
Tickets for this carriage, which are subject to a supplement, include a free copy of the W&LLR’s newly-released Traveller’s Guide, a glass-bottle soft drink and snacks.
Trains from May 4 will also feature a new breakfast service, departing from Llanfair at 10am or 10.30am, with the ticket price including a breakfast roll and hot drink. Tickets for this service will be limited and must be pre-booked.
Safety of both the railway’s visitors and its volunteer staff remains paramount and the Covid prevention measures that proved so successful in 2020 will continue to be applied.
Intending visitors are being asked to pre-book their tickets through the W&LLR’s new online booking service, https://wllr.digitickets.co.uk, while measures including the wearing of face coverings and social distancing will remain in place.
Over the enforced extended winter break, the railway’s almost entirely volunteer staff have been carrying out essential maintenance, working in small Covid-compliant teams. They are now looking forward to getting back to what they enjoy the most, running trains for their visitors.
“After a difficult 12 months for the railway, we are delighted to welcome visitors back to enjoy our beautiful line from May 1,” said W&LLR general manager James Brett. “Our team are working hard behind the scenes to get everything ready for a Covid-secure operation and we already have much to look forward to in 2021.
“Alongside our core service of steam-hauled heritage trains, we plan to offer a range of new experiences for travellers, combined with the return of two of our historic locomotives from major overhauls.”
Over the coming weeks, the W&LLR will be making further announcements regarding train services later in the season and plans for special events. Latest news will also be found on the newly updated website at www.wllr.org.uk and on the line’s social media feeds.
Visiting Austrian steam locomotive, ‘Zillertal’, is set to be rostered on early-season passenger services at Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway.
Photo: John Travis/W&LLR
>> More information about Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway on Visit Mid Wales
A new, national touring exhibition, which shows how shared processes, skills and values associated with creative making contribute to thriving commons neighbourhoods, is set to be launched in Newtown when galleries are allowed to reopen.
“The commons means: Things we share, Places we share, Systems we share, Ideas we share and Culture we share,” said Peter Barnes, On the Commons co-founder.
This thought-provoking Craftspace exhibition will run at the Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown until June 26. In the meantime, plans are underway to provide a virtual tour of the exhibition via the Craftspace website www.craftspace.co.uk.
The exhibition highlights ‘acts of commoning’ which are shaping the way communities work together to share and steward commonly owned assets and resources.
Through 16 loans and new commissions, artists will bring attention to the issues, contribute their thought leadership and participate in a call to action. These artists provide a powerful commentary on what society stands to gain from acting to protect and reclaim our global commons.
Featuring both UK based and international artists, the exhibition reflects a commons-based shift in thinking from ‘you’re on your own’ to ‘we’re in this together.’ It will investigate how creativity, making and materials can highlight how acts of commoning are creating thriving communities.
“In a time of extreme disruption from COVID-19, this exhibition provides a mutual resource to find and process meaning out of trauma and loss, to aid recovery,” said Deirdre Figueiredo MBE, director of Craftspace.
“Lockdown has seen a surge in purchase of craft equipment and materials. People have turned to age-old craft skills and making to get by, boost their resilience and engage in acts of collective creativity.
“Increasing privatisation in cities has eroded the commons and local authorities are hard pressed to steward commonly owned spaces and assets. Now more than ever we need commons thinking to rebalance our ways of being, living, working and imagining a more collectively-made and owned future.”
Exhibition themes range from work influenced by historical land based commons, such as the Common Ground Peckham Rye Token project by Alice McLean and Justine Boussard and stained glass ‘Rewilding at the Clootie Tree’ by Pinkie Maclure to fashion commons where Amy Twigger Holroyd shares stitch hacking techniques in Re:Knit Revolution.
Collectively made textiles from the Embroidered Digital Commons, co-ordinated by Ele Carpenter, considers the internet as a shared resource, whilst Lise Bjørne Linnert and Gelawesh Waledkhani investigate ideas of mobile commons with undocumented migrants in Norway.
Sharing resources and ideas, including food production, are explored by Rachael Colley and Jacky Oliver. Linda Brothwell has created a new iteration of her project ‘Acts of Care: Bench Repair’ through repairing benches for public places with beautiful wooden inlays.
Deirdre Nelson maps local acts of commoning around the streets where she lives in Glasgow.
Shane Waltener is making scaffold structures from locally sourced willow, bramble and handmade nettle and flax twine. They are a physical and metaphorical means of thinking through shared resources, issues relating to enclosure and rights of access. He draws attention to craft skills and nature itself, as forms of commons.
“I am creating a performance installation as ‘a symbolic act of repair’, one that prompts us to rethink our connections between land and materials, making a connection between the urban and the rural, learning from nature and landscape and in doing so, rewrite narratives and imaginaries relating to all of the above,” said Shane.
Claudia Rodríguez and Ana Joaquina Ramírez collaborated, supported and supervised by Rosina Santana Castellón, to bring different communities together with a focus on the polluted Santiago river affecting cities and agriculture, in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The polluted water had caused cases of cancer in poor neighbourhoods next to it. This had caused division and suspicion in the community. Nets Project activated the whole community in protest and resulted in a monumental collective weave woven by urbanites and villagers.
The project empowered and engaged many and successfully built bridges among them to create awareness of their rights and a stronger resistance.
Also on show, three artists have worked in response to or co-created with communities in three UK place-based and socially engaged residencies in Birmingham, St Helens and Newtown.
‘We are Commoners’ will tour the UK until September next year. The exhibition will be free to visit. More details at commoners.craftspace.co.uk.
Stained glass ‘Rewilding at the Clootie Tree’ by Pinkie Maclure.
Guild of Commoning by Deirdre Nelson.
Photo Eoin Carey.
The Nets Project Procession by Claudia Rodríguez, Ana Joaquina Ramírez and Rosina Santana Castellón in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Photo: Metztli Cerda.
“For 30 minutes, people can walk from the comfort of their armchair with their own personal tour guide,” explained Stuart Williams, Talyllyn Railway’s general manager.
“They can spend time at the exhibits and areas that they want to look at and ask questions along the way.
“The tour can be booked for a time that suits them, or they can purchase a unique gift for someone else. Customers can also mix and match your tours to suit their interests.”
One tour costs £25, two cost £17.50 each or three cost £15 each. There are individual tours for the Museum, General all areas, The Awdry Study and Locomotives.
Museum tours include one year’s Friends of the Museum Membership. Book the tours online at https://bit.ly/TRmuseumtours
Enthusiasts can also watch the railway live from the comfort of their armchair thanks to three webcams that have been set up. Those wishing to see even more of the railway can pay an annual subscription of £5 to access Talyllyn Control Centre offers an extra camera and the ability to track the live progress of the trains.
Stuart has developed his video and social media skills during lockdown to keep the public engaged with and informed about railway. A fundraising campaign last year was a great success, collecting more than £130,000 for the railway.
He recently streamed a live video of a 70th anniversary re-enactment event on the railway via Facebook. The event marked 70 years since two ex-Corris Railway locomotives – Locos 3 and 4 - arrived at Tywyn, having been purchased by Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society. The video can be watched on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/TalyllynRail.
Talyllyn Railway Museum.
One of the railway’s locomotives waiting to escape lockdown and return to action.
Building a strong inclusivity and diversity policy in the workplace will be the topic for speaker Andrea Wallbank at Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub’s second Digital No Limits session on Friday, March 26.
Business in Focus senior HR manager Andrea will be advising attendees on improving workplace culture and building an inclusive business.
At the end of 2020, the hub teamed up with Celf-Able, a diverse group of artists in Powys, to launch the series that aims to promote accessibility and inclusion. The second session will focus on promoting inclusivity, diversity and empowerment within the workplace.
The hub will be welcoming Andrea to discuss equality and diversity from a HR perspective. She is an experienced HR manager and consultant, supporting SMEs across Wales in all aspects of people management and employment issues.
She advises businesses on how to develop workplace culture and implement people practices for business change and growth.
“It’s so important to have a strong inclusivity and diversity policy, and I’ll be showing how to actively become a more inclusive employer, as well as strategies for creating a more inclusive workplace,” said Andrea.
Celf-Able, a group of disabled and non-disabled artists, will also be joining the session. Celf-Able provides opportunities for people to get together, reduce isolation and celebrate disability culture.
Director and chair, Sue Patch, will be delivering an informative presentation on ‘Disability Equality’, which will cover everything from the Social Model of Disability to actions to promote inclusion in society and the workplace.
“We’re really excited to be continuing this series in 2021. It’s set to be a really insightful morning with interesting conversation, valuable learning and an opportunity to connect with like-minded people,” said Holly Jones, hub manager for Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub.
An innovative space to incubate and accelerate new and growing businesses based at Royal Welsh Warehouse, Newtown, the hub is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Spaces on this session are fully funded and to register online search ‘Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub’ on Business Wales Event Finder.
The prestigious British Rally Championship (BRC) is set to return with a revised calendar of events. The iconic Oulton Park Circuit will provide the Motorsport UK British Rally Championship with a history-making opening round of the 2021 season as the series commences with the Neil Howard Stages in association with Graham Coffey & Co. Solicitors on 31st May.
Despite announcing its six-round calendar of events just last week (16th March), British Rally Championship organisers have since been offered the opportunity to open the season at the Cheshire circuit in May, bringing an additional asphalt event to the schedule.
Opening the series during the past two years, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally switches to October 30, providing imposing forest stages made famous by Wales Rally GB from its base in Llandudno.
BRC manager Iain Campbell said: “It’s been an extremely tough time for all forms of motorsport over the past 12 months or so and the British Rally Championship hasn’t escaped the challenges caused by the pandemic.
“But we have been working very hard behind the scenes to create a calendar worthy of the British Championship title and I truly believe we have come up with an exciting, challenging yet cost-effective offering for our BRC top-flight, Juniors and National competitors.
“I’d like to thank all of the events in the calendar that have worked with us and it goes without saying that we are all looking forward to finally getting the season underway.”
Regulations and registrations for the eagerly anticipated new season will be available soon. All the latest championship news can be found at www.britishrallychampionship.co.uk
Aberdovey-based Tom Cave in action in the British Rally Championship in 2019.
'A Search for a Contemporary Figure IV' by Tomos Sparnon and 'I Use(d) to Hurt Myself' by Jasmine Sheckleford are powerful pieces from the new annual exhibition at MOMA.
Launched last November, the exhibition was curated by Mari Elin Jones and Lloyd Roderick and showcases the work of artists under the age of 30 working in Wales.
Tomos Sparnon’s mixed media on canvas explores what it is to be human, reflecting on the conflict between what is visible and invisible, while Jasmine Sheckleford's work, which uses a cyanotype on paper, looks at themes relating to mental health, identity and family.
Pedr ap Llwyd, the library’s chief executive and librarian, said: “We are constantly growing and developing our collections and this work has continued during the pandemic.
“We are delighted to be adding these exciting and valuable works to the National Art Collection, ensuring that our collections are as contemporary as possible. It is vitally important that the library’s collections continually evolve in order to reflect a current and dynamic Wales and its diverse individuals. What better way to do so that than by supporting young artists.”
Emily Bartlett, MOMA’s managing director, said: “We are delighted that the National Library of Wales shares our vision for supporting and recognising the valuable work being created by young artists in Wales, as indeed we are now that these two exciting and remarkable works will become part of the National Art Collection.
“We look forward to working with colleagues at the national library to further develop this partnership, and its support for young Welsh artists, in future years.”
Morfudd Bevan, the library’s art curator, said: “This ground-breaking exhibition provides essential support for young Welsh artists at the outset of their careers. We are therefore extremely proud to be able to support the exhibition and the artists by annually purchasing works of art from the show into the library’s National Art Collection.”
>> Click here for more information about the National Library of Wales
>> Click here for more information about the Museum of Modern Art, Wales (MOMA)
February marks LGBTQ+ History month and Ceredigion Museum has been working with local organisation Aberration to unveil and record fascinating and untold stories of Aberystwyth.
These stories form part of the museum’s ‘It Happened in Aber’ project, which will allow people to listen to the untold stories that have shaped Aberystwyth.
This project was made possible thanks to the ’15-minute heritage’ funding, a partnership between The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.
Carrie Canham, museum curator, said: “For too long the LGBTQ+ community has been marginalised, or even completely concealed, in history. Ceredigion Museum is keen to share the stories that have lurked in the shadows, to celebrate the diversity and rich LGBTQ+ heritage of Aberystwyth with pride.”
The LGBTQ+ stories researched and recorded with by Jane Hoy, of Aberration, include historic and modern-day characters from the town, including famous academics, poets, mariners, dancers and a spy!
“We are delighted to be working so closely with Ceredigion Museum contributing to ‘queering up’ the museum with lively local stories and events,” said Jane.
Aberystwyth has certainly played its part in developing the LGBTQ+ community in West Wales and Sarah and Rosie, founders of Aberystwyth’s ‘Wrecked’ nightclub for women, have documented their fond memories of their venue in the town: “It became a fun and safe haven for lesbians who travelled there from all corners of the county”.
Ceredigion Museum staff and volunteers will be continuing to document stories linked to the LGBTQ+ community, as well as stories linked to specific locations in the town, until April.
From May onwards, The ‘It Happened in Aber’ stories will be available to enjoy in podcast format on the museum’s website as well as forming a digital walking tour of the town, allowing people to listen and enjoy the stories whilst walking around the locations in Aberystwyth.
Councillor Catherine Hughes said: "It's fantastic that Ceredigion Museum is providing us with an opportunity to enjoy the history and the important contribution of the LGBTQ+ community in Aberystwyth. This is such an important project to document our local heritage. We look forward to listening to all the stories."
If you can’t wait until the summer, join this years’ virtual Aberration - Between the Lines event on Friday, February 26 from 7pm, when the ladies of ‘Wrecked’ will be sharing some of their stories.
For further information or to share your untold story, contact Sarah Morton, Ceredigion Museum’s sustainability officer, at Sarah.Morton@ceredigion.gov.uk.
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