Talyllyn Railway ran a special slate train on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the announcement of the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The railway is named as part of the new World Heritage Site because it was the first Welsh narrow gauge slate railway to be designed for steam haulage from the outset and the world’s first preserved railway.
Taking up the story of the special train, general manager Stuart Williams said: “When the agenda of the UNESCO meeting was published, it was realised that the announcement of success, or otherwise, of the Northwest Wales Slate Landscape bid would be made round midday on July 28.
“It was therefore suggested that we ought to celebrate any potential success by running a special train which included some of our original and replica slate wagons and also our original brake van, hauled by one of our original locomotives No.2 ‘Dolgoch’.
“The arrangements were made in secret in case it was thought we had any inside knowledge but, like everyone else, we had to wait for the announcement on the day.
“The tension in the office increased during the morning, particularly when the live stream of the meeting went down, but fortunately it was back up in time for the announcement.
“Then we could give the go ahead for the train and get out the bunting and balloons to celebrate. This has been a long road and we would like to pay tribute to the team at Gwynedd Council for all their hard work during the long bid process.”
UNESCO World Heritage Site status recognises the role of the Welsh slate industry in not only producing slate that has “roofed the world”, but also in developing innovative technologies, including narrow gauge railways, that have spread across the globe.
It also recognises the role of the slate industry in preserving Welsh culture and language. The Ffestiniog Railway was also one of the key elements of the successful bid.
Ian Drummond, Talyllyn Railway’s Heritage Working Group chair, said: “This inscription is the end of a long road for everyone involved in the bid process. We are already seeing benefits, not only on the railway but also in the local communities, as projects have been undertaken to emphasise, interpret and, in some cases, restore the heritage of the slate industry and its contribution to the history of the area.
“We are delighted to have played a role in the process so far, and the railway will now be one of the main ‘hubs’ of the Heritage Site, giving people the opportunity to understand more of the heritage and culture of this wonderful area.”
Anthony Coulls, senior curator of the Railway Museum in York and long-serving Talyllyn Railway volunteer, added: “The recognition of Talyllyn Railway’s role, both as a pioneer narrow gauge slate railway and as the world’s first preserved railway, is richly deserved.
“The railway now takes its place alongside the Darjeeling Railway in India and the Semmering Railway in Austria as railways recognised as having World Heritage Status, something that will also apply to the Ffestiniog Railway. This is therefore a day to be celebrated by all in the international Heritage Railway movement.”
The celebratory slate train ran from Tywyn Wharf Station to Brynglas and back, carrying a special headboard which had been produced for the occasion. Locomotive No.2 was driven by James Foster with Anthony Coulls as fireman and Ian Drummond as guard.
Talyllyn Railway’s general manager Stuart Williams (right) with the crew, ‘quarrymen’ and celebratory train at Tywyn Wharf Station.
(Photo: Barbara Fuller)
The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth has been gifted three iconic works by the celebrated local artist Mary Lloyd Jones.
The Aberystwyth based artist is well known for her vibrant, abstract, dynamic and expressionist Welsh landscapes and is heavily influenced in her works by the cultural and geographic history of Wales.
Born in Devil’s Bridge in 1934, she trained at the Cardiff College of Art in the 1950s, after which she returned to her beloved Ceredigion landscape, which has always had a deep influence on her works, as can be seen in the emotive ‘Ponterwyd/Gaia’ work, one of the recently gifted works to the library.
“The subject of my work is the natural world and my own identity, clouds, shadows, rocky strata, field patterns and wildernesses,” said Mary.
Throughout the summer, there will be an opportunity to see this work on display in the Gregynog Gallery at the library.
As the other gifted paintings, two triptych oil works, ‘Barclodiad y Gawres’ and ‘Bryn Celli Ddu’, were created especially for an exhibition of the artist’s works in the library’s iconic Gregynog Gallery in 2006, it is fitting that they have found a home there.
The two works are based on the carved, linear designs created by the Celtic Britons on the prehistoric stones ‘Barclodiad y Gawres’ and ‘Bryn Celli Ddu’ on Anglesey, showing the roots of the Welsh language.
Within these works, the artist conveys her thoughts and emotions of belonging to a minority culture and language. As she researched the papers of the Welsh scholars Sir John Rhys and Iolo Morgannwg, which are housed at the library, whilst preparing for the works, she felt it would be a fitting home for the paintings.
“I have tried to show through colour interaction the extraordinary atmosphere and mystery of the stones, and to make a connection with a way of living more than 4,000 years ago,” said Mary.
“Ancient literature and poetry have the highest cultural status in Wales. Poets often expressed in words that which I wish to convey in my compositions. Building a bridge between the visual arts and the art of literature and poetry is something which I try to achieve.”
Morfudd Bevan, the library’s art curator said: “We are tremendously grateful to Mary Lloyd Jones for her fantastic support of the library. The National Library is home to a number of iconic works by the highly respected artist and we are delighted to be able to build on this collection further with this generous gift of works.”
Pedr ap Llwyd, the library’s chief executive and librarian, added: “We as a library are constantly growing and developing our collections and we are delighted to be adding these exciting and valuable works to the National Art Collection.
“We are extremely fortunate of the exceptional friendship and support of the talented artist Mary Lloyd Jones and her work conveys important aspects of Wales and its culture. I look forward to welcoming people to see these wonderful works at the Gregynog Gallery throughout the summer.”
‘Ponterwyd/Gaia’ by Mary Lloyd Jones.
‘Barclodiad y Gawres’ and ‘Bryn Celli Ddu’ which were created especially for an exhibition in the Gregynog Gallery in 2006.
“It’s the perfect quest to get teams of adults, families, groups of friends or holidaymakers working together to solve puzzles whilst providing an immersive experience. Games last about two hours and players are provided with one iPad per team of six and a puzzle pack to solve all riddles.
“They navigate using maps and GPS to find the location of their next challenge. The cost is £60 per slot which is for up to six players and clients can run 10 games per day.”
All Lorna and Jo ask of clients is that they share the marketing by promoting the event on social media and their website. Contact Lorna and Jo on Tel: 01686 449172 or 07963 260373, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beyond Breakout has been running the Magic Portal games for schools before now opening bookings for the Newtown area. To see how the games work, visit https://www.beyondbreakout.co.uk/outdoorgames.html
The company’s indoor escape rooms are located on the fourth floor of Newtown’s Royal Welsh Warehouse, Pryce Jones Building. It also hosts online digital games and live avatar games. For more information, visit https://www.beyondbreakout.co.uk .
Beyond Breakout is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
Beyond Breakout creators Jo Woodall (left) and Lorna Morris.
Mid Wales-based Talyllyn Railway has taken an important step on its journey to becoming carbon neutral by investing in planting trees.
The narrow-gauge heritage railway, which runs between Tywyn and Nant Gwernol, Abergynolwyn, is partnering with Forest Carbon, a company that develops nature-based climate projects in the UK.
The intent of this pioneering partnership is to offset emissions created from coal burnt by the railway’s steam locomotives.
Talyllyn Railway is investing in a carbon-financed woodland scheme based in Breckenhill, Northern Ireland, which has planted 1,688 trees on 1.1 hectares, and is also keen to invest in woodland or peatland restoration projects within Wales.
The railway, in a typical year, consumes 95 tonnes of coal which creates 210 tonnes of CO2e - the equivalent to 127 people on a return flight from London to Los Angeles - although that has been significantly reduced during the pandemic.
Investment in the Breckenhill project, which is validated under the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code, will lead to the sequestration of 322 tonnes of CO2 over the next 50 years.
In partnership with Forest Carbon, the railway is also actively looking for local Welsh-based landowners who might be interested in increasing woodland on their land or participating in peatland restoration projects.
In the shorter term, the railway has committed to offset its emissions annually through the purchase of verified carbon credits through the Carbon Neutral Britain Climate Fund scheme.
General manager Stuart Williams said: “As a heritage steam railway, for which coal burning steam locomotives are an integral part of the visitor experience, we are keen to make sure we minimise the impact of our operation wherever possible.
“We were attracted to working with Forest Carbon as they offered a long-term solution. The Talyllyn is looking to implement annual offsetting projects to complement this scheme, especially those based in Wales where possible.
“We will be offering our customers the chance to be able to pay a small premium on their ticket price to individually offset their journey and will be encouraging our membership to donate too. Any donations made will be reinvested in similar projects.”
Matthew Hay, from Forest Carbon, said: “We are delighted to be working with Talyllyn Railway to address their climate impact and welcome their investment into UK nature-based solutions by supporting woodland creation at Breckenhill.
“Planting trees, especially native species, delivers a whole host of environmental benefits beyond carbon sequestration, so we really value the contribution of committed organisations like Talyllyn, who are willing to step up and put their money where their mouth is, sustainability wise.”
The railway has already invested in several sustainability projects including a 13kw solar panel installation, electric car chargers at the two main stations and the removal of single use plastics.
It also recently adopted a new environmental policy which covers resource management, water, electricity and biodiversity. The railway appreciates how important it is to be carbon neutral and is constantly looking at ways to improve its environmental credentials.
Talyllyn Railway has invested in planting trees at Breckenhill in Northern Ireland to offset carbon emissions from steam trains.
Rhayader is set to become known as ‘The Outdoors Capital of Wales’ as part of a drive to promote the small Mid Wales town and its businesses as a tourist destination.
The new branding follows a strategic plan written by Spencer David Consultants who have worked closely with Rhayader 2000, an action group that works on the development of Rhayader as a tourism destination, and the town council over the past year.
Town councillor Rhys Thomas led on the branding with Tom Jones, of Hafod Hardware, taking the lead on the logo and design work.
Cllr Thomas, the town council’s portfolio holder for tourism, said: “Building on the new fantastic branding, which has been developed by Tom, we are relaunching our website, https://www.rhayader.co.uk/.
“The site has been designed to encapsulate everything Rhayader has to offer but with a real outdoors theme running through it. Rhayader and district have so much to offer and our community welcomes visitors with open arms.”
Recognising the importance of the tourism sector to shops and businesses in the town, the town council agreed to fund Rhayader 2000 annually in its precept.
Kerena Pugh, Rhayader 2000 chair, said: “The funding from Rhayader Town Council, along with a revitalised membership of Rhayader 2000, has already given us results with this new contemporary website.
“Working together with all the businesses of the town will make Rhayader stronger, more vibrant and will drive our economy for the future.”
The new website will be a hub of information for visitors to access a directory of local activities and amenities. With an up-to-date events page and an interactive map, the site will put visitors in good stead as they begin to explore what Rhayader has to offer.
And there is more to come. A successful bid to Powys County Council and Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns Grant has allowed the town council to use the new branding in COVID-19 signage and a COVID safe tourist information totem for the centre of town.
The new Rhayader website.
The oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales is building a 21st century version of a trio of steam locomotives built at the Falcon Works in Loughborough in 1878 – with one major visual exception.
The cab on Corris Railway’s new Falcon Number 10 will be higher than the original because the average man is now 11cms - four and half inches - taller than in the Victorian era.
One of the original trio of Corris Railway locomotives is still in service on Talyllyn Railway, but Number 3 has been renamed Sir Haydn and now has a higher cab also.
“The new build differs from the originals in some respects, most notably a higher cab to accommodate drivers and firemen who are taller than their Victorian predecessors,” said a Corris Railway spokesman. “
“The new cab does, however, have a similar outline to that carried by the original trio during their time at the Corris.
“The cab of Number 10 will stand higher than those which were carried by the original Falcon engines on the Corris and by Number 3, now Sir Haydn, when she entered traffic on Talyllyn Railway in the 1950s,” said the Corris Railway spokesman.
“The footplate crew at the time found the height of the cab a problem to fit under. When Sir Haydn received its current cab, the original parts survived and these have been used as guides with the design profile of that for number 10.”
A major milestone in the progress of the new Falcon Number 10 was reached last week when the wheels and motion moved for the first time.
This significant took place courtesy of compressed air, and some temporary pipework fittings, at the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd near Ross-on-Wye. A video of this event can be seen at www.corris.co.uk .
Further fine tuning will be required but all went well on the first run of the new Falcon number 10. The project already has a boiler constructed by Israel Newton and other components made or ready for finishing include the smokebox and its fittings, buffers and chimney.
Volunteer input to the project has also included work on brake gear components and the pony truck for the 0-4-2ST. Cab components have also been produced. However, there is more construction to be done and components, including cab fittings, to be purchased, many of them distinctly expensive to obtain.
The target date for the completion of the locomotive, subject to continued successful fundraising, is September next year when it is planned to appear as the centrepiece of a charity open day at the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd. Subsequently it will enter traffic on the Corris.
The new steam locomotive will be the second to enter service on the revived section of the railway, situated in the beautiful Dulas Valley between Machynlleth and Dolgellau.
The Corris Railways spokesman thanked everyone who has donated money to the project to date and said further donations would be very welcome. Donations can be made online at www.corris.co.uk or cheques, payable to Corris Railway, can be sent to Peter Guest, 38, Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS.
The new Falcon Number 10 will look like Sir Haydn, now in service on Talyllyn Railway with a cab higher than the original.
Picture: Barbara Fuller.
A high quality restaurant with rooms which is developing its own staff team in a historic Mid Wales market town has reported a busy first month.
Chartists 1770 at The Trewythen, located at the former Trewythen Hotel in Llanidloes, has created 16 full and part-time jobs, including six apprenticeships, as part of a £250,000 investment in the new business.
The restaurant with rooms is owned by Cambrian Training Company, leading apprenticeship provider to the hospitality industry in Wales, who are hoping to develop a business template that could possibly be used in other towns in the future.
Faced with a UK-wide recruitment crisis in the hospitality industry, Chartists 1770 at The Trewythen is utilising apprenticeships to grow its own staff guided by experienced team members, including executive hotel manager Jo Davies and her husband, Nick, the executive head chef.
The apprentices are working towards Foundation Apprenticeships and Apprenticeships in licensed hospitality services, food production and cookery and cleaning supervision skills, which are delivered by Cambrian Training Company for the Welsh Government.
The new business is located in a Grade ll listed Georgian building which has been transformed into a restaurant with seven, refurbished, en suite bedrooms, each with free Wifi, flat-screen digital TV, tea and coffee making facilities and a range of toiletries. Large, family rooms accommodate up to five people. Bookings can be made at www.trewythenhotel.wales .
The restaurant, which offers “a dining experience” with table service, has 50 covers including four outdoor dining pods, each with a table for six. The focus is on fresh, seasonal ingredients and drinks from Wales.
The hotel is welcoming bookings and already has some guests booked in for 2022. The restaurant is especially busy, with customers enjoying the outdoor dining pod experience, with steaks and fresh fish proving menu favourites.
Cambrian Training Company’s managing director Arwyn Watkins said: “I am delighted to report that the opening of our new business, Chartists 1770 at The Trewythen, has been very well received and I would like to thank the local community and visitors alike for their support.
“We are at that start of the business journey and are taking a cautious approach because of the lack of an available workforce and the need to develop staff with hospitality skills.
“We are trying to showcase how good a career in the hospitality industry can be and what opportunities there are locally. Unfortunately, there are currently not enough people who consider hospitality as a rewarding career which is something we in the industry must change.
“For the next 18 months, our apprentices will get a really good grounding and opportunity to learn and demonstrate their skills and hopefully progress. There is nothing to stop them learning at The Trewythen and then progressing within our network or maybe seeking other future opportunities within the business.”
Chartists 1770 at The Trewythen is keen to play its part in establishing Llanidloes, the first town on the River Severn, as a popular tourist destination, at the gateway to the Cambrian Mountains.
Jo and Nick Davies (centre) with their staff outside Chartists 1770 at The Trewythen.
GLTW secretary Ray Reid said: “The Great Little Trains of Wales was started in 1970 to encourage visitors to come to Wales in general and to ride the narrow-gauge railways in particular.
“The addition of Corris Railway to the existing 11 railways makes the GLTW’s Discount and Gold cards even better value and a must have for anyone intending to visit several of the railways during the year.”
Corris Railway is a 2’3” gauge railway and its origins date back to the 1850s. It was initially built to carry slate from the quarries at Corris Uchaf and Aberllefenni in the Dulas Valley. The railway ran until 1948, but preservation began in the 1960s.
Today, it operates regularly with a mix of steam and diesel traction between Maespoeth and Corris, and has exciting plans to extend operations.
Richard Hamilton-Foyn, Corris Railway chairman, said: “When the preservation of the Corris Railway started in 1966, the pioneer volunteers had nothing but one decrepit building to work on.
“Since then, we have purchased land, restored the infrastructure, laid track and built a completely new train with modern recreations of the original Corris Victorian carriages and a Corris steam locomotive.
“As we move into the next phase of the development of the railway with a second steam locomotive, a new station in Corris and a southern extension, we are delighted to have been invited to join the GLTW organisation. We are ready to contribute to the future prosperity of all of the Great Little Trains here in Wales.”
Costing £15, the GLTW Discount Card gives the holder a 20% discount on the price of a return journey on all 12 members railways. The card is valid for one year from the first date of use and there are also discounts for selected accommodation providers close to many member railways.
Cards are available at railway booking offices and online at www.greatlittletrainsofwales.co.uk
The other GLTW members are Bala Lake Railway, Brecon Mountain Railway (Merthyr Tydfil), Fairbourne Railway, Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways (Porthmadog), Llanberis Lake Railway, Snowdon Mountain Railway (Llanberis), Talyllyn Railway (Tywyn), Welshpool and Llanfair Railway (Llanfair Caereinion), Vale of Rheidol Railway (Aberystwyth) and Welsh Highland Heritage Railway (Porthmadog).
As we edge out of lockdown, the Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales (WCRC) is urging businesses in the travel and tourism sector to get protected against cybercrime.
Welsh-based businesses are gearing up for a record-breaking summer with hundreds of thousands of bookings being made through online systems for hotel reservations, car rentals, air travel, restaurants, and cafes etc. And without the necessary protection, organisations leave themselves wide open for cybercriminals to exploit personal data and attack networks.
Paul Peters, Director of the WCRC, which offers local businesses in the region free tools and tips to help improve cyber resilience, said: “Over £2,000 million was spent on tourism in Wales in 2019 and with overseas summer holidays looking increasingly unlikely this year, the sector is expecting an incredible season.
“And yet, with so many people making their bookings online and entrusting their personal information and payment details to private holiday-letting providers, holiday parks, guest houses and hotels, it is crucial these SMEs have cybersecurity measures in place to not only protect themselves but also their customers’ details.”
Such attacks can leave a devastating impact with far-reaching effect. Businesses can suffer from a long list of serious implications, including destruction, alteration, or loss of important files, unauthorised access to sensitive data, loss of billable hours, network access and website access, as well as potential closure, to name a few.
Jim Jones, CEO of North Wales Tourism, said: “As an organisation, we have had to learn the hard way, following a number of incidents relating to cyberattacks against our company. The disruptive experience has made us far more vigilant in protecting our digital assets.
“As we approach a very busy period, especially this summer, and following the lifting of many lockdown restrictions, that tourism businesses in Wales, increase their cyber awareness.”
The WCRC offers tourism providers a few points they should consider when it comes to their online protections. These include the following:
An innovative partnership between the police, private sector and academia has launched in Wales to help businesses protect themselves against cybercrime.
The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales (WCRC) is part of a network of centres being established across the country to provide businesses and organisations, with an affordable way to access cyber security services and consultancy to help protect themselves from attack.
The WCRC offers a range of membership options depending on what level of support businesses need. Core Membership is free and provides businesses with access to a range of resources and tools to help them identify risks and vulnerabilities, as well as providing guidance on the steps they can take to increase their levels of protection. The centre will have physical locations in both the north and the south of Wales to allow for easy access for local business.
The centre is headed up by Director Paul Peters, who is a Temporary Detective Superintendent seconded to the centre.
Paul has been in the police force for over 25 years and has worked across a diverse array of policing functions. As an experienced senior investigating officer (SIO) within one of the Regional Organised Crime Units, he managed serious and complex investigations relating to economic and cyber-crime. He spearheaded a partnership collaboration to create a Cybercrime Prevent package involving education, awareness, and law enforcement support across Wales.
Paul worked closely with businesses across Wales to raise awareness of cyber threats and secure funding from Welsh Government to implement Cyber Protect initiatives across Wales.
Commenting on his directorship, Paul said: “I have seen first-hand the significant threat that businesses across our region face from cyber criminals. I have witnessed the damage a successful attack can do to organisations of all sizes from sole traders to multinational organisations. The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales team is committed to helping local business owners understand more about the threats they face and to help them get better protected.
“The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales brings together the expertise of law enforcement, private industry and academia working together to deliver affordable services to help businesses mitigate their cyber security risks. We have already had a great response from those wanting to be involved with our board and advisory group and we look forward to welcoming many more once we are up and running.”
The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales website is now live and provides businesses with details on guidance available, as well as signing up for one of our membership packages.
“The Core Membership is free and comes with a pack of practical guidance and information to assist companies in identifying their current risks and what they can do to reduce potential problems arising. We are keen that businesses across Wales sign up to take advantage of this.” Paul added.
The WCRC has been funded by the National Police Chiefs’ Council National Cybercrime Programme, which secured £2million of government funding to establish a network on Cyber Resilience Centres (CRCs) across the country. Wales is the seventh region to go live.
Mandy Haeburn-Little CEO of BRIM, the body which advises on establishing and developing the CRCs said: “This is a fundamental and very positive step by policing and represents a new era for cybercrime prevention where policing will work hand in hand with private sector in the alignment of cyber strategies.
“This fulfils so many objectives from the delivery of policing cybercrime objectives, support for all sectors of business and the focus for much needed assistance towards economic growth for business. It is a one-stop-shop for cyber resilience which we have worked very hard to develop with National Police Chiefs’ Council and the support of the Home Office.”
Chief Constable of Gwent Police Pam Kelly, who is the current Chair of the Wales Chief Officer group, added: “The launch of the Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales is a huge step forward for businesses of all sizes to further learn and understand the importance of mobilising a robust cyber strategy.
“Becoming part of the centre is a safety measure that we encourage business owners to make the most of to minimise the potential of digital footprints being compromised. The level of innovation and guidance available shows great commitment from the police force, private sector and academic authorities in protecting the security and buoyancy of Wales’ economy.”
The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales will generate income through the supply of a broad mix of products and services. It is a not-for-profit organisation which means all revenue generated will be invested back into helping to keep businesses across Wales safe.
Businesses can find out more information about the centre and how to get involved at www.wcrcentre.co.uk. To keep updated with all the latest WCRC developments, follow @CRCWales on Twitter or on LinkedIn and sign up to receive the WCRC e-news on the website.
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