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The world’s first preserved railway celebrated a significant milestone last week when the 70th anniversary of the first two locomotives purchased by Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society was re-enacted.
The society was formed in 1950 to take over the railway following the death of its owner, Sir Henry Haydn Jones. The railway had just two locomotives - No 1 (Talyllyn) was not in good running order, leaving No 2 (Dolgoch) to provide a regular service.
Therefore Loco 3, later named Sir Haydn and Loco 4, named Edward Thomas after Talyllyn Railway’s former manager, were bought from Corris Railway, which closed in 1948.
Corris Railway, co-incidentally the only other railway in the UK operating on the same gauge - 2ft 3 ins - as Talyllyn, had put its two locomotives in storage at Machynlleth.
They were transported to Tywyn on the mainline and off-loaded onto the Talyllyn tracks by a crane from the original BR slate transfer siding near to what is now Wharf station. The locos were then coupled to No 2 and taken to their new base in the engine shed at Pendre.
Supporters, who were unable to be there due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, watched the re-enactment live on Facebook and it is now also available on Talyllyn Railway’s YouTube channel httnps://www.youtube.com/user/TalyllynRail .
Loco No. 3, built in 1878 by Hughes’ Loco & Tramway Engineering Works Ltd of Loughborough, made its first trip on Talyllyn Railway in July 1951 but, owing to the precarious state of the track, it was little used in the first year.
Loco No. 4, built in 1921 by Kerr, Stuart & Co. Ltd for use on Corris Railway, entered service in 1952 after essential repairs had been carried out by Hunslet Engine Company.
Talyllyn Railway was built in 1865 to transport slate from Bryn Eglwys slate quarry at Abergynolwyn, but also provided a passenger service from Abergynolwyn, where quarry workers and their families lived, to Tywyn, more than six miles away.
Following the quarry’s closure in 1946, Sir Haydn announced his intention to keep the railway open during his lifetime. Following his death in 1950, Mr L. T. C. Rolt and the newly formed preservation society reached an agreement with Sir Haydn’s widow to run the railway.
The railway hopes to re-open soon, with bookings being accepted from May 1 onwards. To celebrate its 100th birthday later this year, Loco No. 4 will be returning to Corris Railway as a guest loco but will be back in Tywyn for another celebration weekend on September 11 and 12.
Locos 2, 3 and 4 at Wharf for the 70th anniversary at Talyllyn Railway.
Photo credit to Barbara Fuller
Locos 3 and 4 at Wharf with Talyllyn Railway and British Rail crew in 1951.
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.
Following an exceptional period of growth, Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub has achieved record figures in February, highlighting the increase in demand for business support for new and existing businesses.
In 28 days, the hub team welcomed more than 450 virtual event attendees with 179 of those being new, completed 21.5 hours of workshops over 10 events, 23 hours of one-to-one support with their business advisor and achieved 100 sign-ups on just one event.
“February was a fantastic month full of inspiring events for the hub. We welcomed new faces and supported so many new businesses,” commented hub manager, Holly Jones.
“We’ve also held our first virtual conference, She Can Start, with over 100 sign-ups, which is a personal best for a single hub event in Newtown. As well as this, we’ve completed a three-day online masterclass dedicated to building websites, launched a five-week Instagram workshop that is seeing 80 plus attendees sign up each week, and we’re getting ready to reopen the hub for co-working as soon as government restrictions ease.”
However, it’s not just February that’s been successful for the hub. Over the last 12 months, three new members of staff have been employed to support the increased demand for hub services.
Lucie Andrews has joined as the new Enterprise Hub engagement coordinator. She is responsible for co-ordinating and promoting a comprehensive engagement programme for the hub, as well as engaging with the community and establishing key relationships.
Co-ordinators. Their role is to be the first point of contact to new clients and to signpost them to the various services the Hub offers.
Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub is 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.
The ‘She Can Start’ virtual conference held by Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub.
Julian was senior partner in Wales Holidays, a letting agency for more than 500 self-catering cottages, from 1978 to 2013, recognising tourism’s wider value and benefit to Wales.
He was volunteer chair of the WTA for eight years from 2002-‘10, a role he relished and was able to represent the industry in the Senedd and Westminster. He was tireless in championing the value and wider economic benefits of tourism.
One of Julian’s most memorable experiences as WTA chair was having afternoon tea and a discussion about tourism with the Prince of Wales on board the Royal train between Carmarthen and Cardiff.
Amongst his many roles, he was a member of the Wales Advisory Tourism Panel from 2007-’11, advising ministers for tourism within the Welsh Government and was also a founder member of the Wales Association of Self Catering Operators (WASCO).
Julian remained active in his retirement, using his vast knowledge to provide content and itineraries for MWT Cymru and the Visit Mid Wales website.
WTA’s current volunteer chair, Andrew Campbell said: “Julian’s passing is a very sad loss to tourism in Wales. He was a most influential figure who strove to make a difference and succeeded.
“When I became WTA chair, he reached out to wish me well, a gesture fully in keeping with his gentlemanly approach to life... courteous and thoughtful at all times, qualities that define our industry.”
Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru’s chief executive, who worked closely with Julian for decades, said: “The tourism sector in Wales has benefited greatly from Julian’s wisdom and passion for more than 40 years.
“He was a Life Member of Mid Wales Tourism and we were all delighted when he was awarded an OBE in 2006 in recognition of his contribution to tourism and. We shall all miss Julian.”
Jonathan Jones, CBE, former Visit Wales tourism and marketing director and chief executive of the former Wales Tourist Board, said: “Julian was so influential in the world of self-catering and also the wider tourism field.
“Although very softly spoken, he had an iron will and a great business brain. Wales tourism is a poorer place without him.”
Picture caption: The late Julian Burrell.
Menter Mon’s Wage Subsidy Scheme is restarting on the 1st of April 2021.
This scheme is to help with taking on new staff age 25+ in Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd, and Anglesey (who meet the qualifying criteria) Please see links below to more information about the scheme.
Based on the Living Wage rate, Menter Mon will pay 50% of their wage for up to 26 weeks.
Certain conditions apply, including the person must be 25 + and currently unemployed.
If you would like to discuss the scheme further please contact Rachel on 07881 873 087 or email Rachel@mentermon.com
From March 27, when the ‘stay local’ travel restrictions will also be lifted by the Welsh Government, people living within Wales will be able to enjoy a holiday break within the country. Only one household from within Wales can book to stay in accommodation.
Visitors from other UK nations will still have to abide by their restrictions, meaning that non-essential travel to Wales and overnight stays are not allowed until April 12 at the earliest.
Val Hawkins, MWT’s chief executive, said: “We welcome the Welsh Government’s announcement which will allow our members with self-contained accommodation, including caravan parks, to reopen to visitors from within Wales in time for Easter.
“Wales is the first country in the UK to relax the Covid-19 restrictions in this way and that is due to the hard work and discipline of local communities within Wales to drive down the infection rate.
“Some of our members with self-contained accommodation have been gearing up to reopen in time for Easter, but not all will be reopening, as there are still significant restrictions in place.
“Our advice to people who plan to visit Mid Wales after March 27 is to ensure that you book directly with self-contained accommodation that has Covid-secure measures in place and has ‘Good to go’ accreditation.
“The safety of local communities is the first priority for all our members. Self-contained accommodation will only be allowed to take bookings from a single household until the restrictions are further relaxed.
“Whilst there will still be significant restrictions in place, it’s a long-awaited opportunity for people living within Wales, who have been in the current lockdown for three months, to escape to the outdoors and there is nowhere better than Mid Wales to boost your health and wellbeing.
“We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Mid Wales from other parts of the UK when it’s safe to do so.”
Picture caption: Val Hawkins welcomes the Welsh Government’s announcement.
Several areas of Ceredigion could soon have access to some of the fastest internet speeds in the UK following a number of suppliers proposing Fibre to the Premises projects (FTTP) across the County.
This comes following a pilot project launched by UK Government last year, the Broadband Upgrade Fund. Through the hard work and dedication of several Community Coordinators and with the support of Ceredigion County Council Officers, suppliers have outlined plans to make ultra-reliable and gigabit-capable full fibre broadband available to hundreds homes and businesses across Ceredigion.
A number of communities have been identified by private suppliers for developing potential schemes, and work will be underway in the coming months to further explore and plan developments in the following areas: Llanrhystud, Llanon, Cross Inn, Pennant, Cilcennin, Bethania, Penuwch, Llanwnnen, Llanybydder, Cwrt-Newydd, Tan y Groes, Penrhiw-pal, Ffostrasol, Beulah, Sarnau, Tresaith, Cefn Llwyd, Rhos y Garth, Llanfihangel y Creuddyn, Ystumtuen, Aber Ffrwd, Cwmrheidol, Pontarfynach, Ponterwyd, Pontrhydfendigaid, Goginan, Bow Street, Tal y Bont, Clarach, Borth, Tre’r Ddol and Eglwys Fach.
For each community project area, a Community Co-ordinator has been identified to help facilitate proposals between the private suppliers and local community. The Council encourages everyone to check with their local Community Co-ordinators to confirm if projects will be taking place in their area and if they are eligible to access improved services. Residents and businesses in neighbouring communities can also be included if there is enough demand and are also encouraged to enquire with the local co-ordinators.
Eligible properties within project areas can be upgraded by suppliers through the use of the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme provided by UK Government in addition to the Welsh Government ‘Top Up’ Fund. This means that eligible residential properties and business properties can claim up to £3,000 and £7,000 respectively for the cost of upgrading their current broadband connection. Property owners are not required to contribute to upgrade to FTTP infrastructure, though will be required to pay the usual monthly costs associated with other broadband connections. The more properties sign up to the scheme, the larger the fund available to meet the infrastructure costs.
Councillor Clive Davies, Digital Champion for Ceredigion County Council provided his support for the proposals being developed, stating that “Full fibre or fibre to the premises is more reliable and resilient with consistent speeds. With large lengths of copper cable ceasing to be used over the coming years it is important that as many people and businesses in Ceredigion take up this opportunity. Fibre provides future proofing, capable of meeting growing data needs from new technologies as well as home working and schooling demands”.
“It is important to note that residents and business in these areas have to be proactive to engage with their local co-ordinators and register their interest in the schemes proposed. The Council cannot recommend or support individual projects from private suppliers, but our officers can ensure you are put in touch with the local Community Co-ordinators”.
These countywide fibre projects will be managed and deployed through private suppliers and once members of the public and businesses are aware of range of suppliers now operating in their area through their Community Co-ordinators, enquiries should be directed to them. Council officers will also continue to be pro-active in supporting and providing advice where appropriate.
Further information about the work of the Council and a useful guide to help improve connectivity can be found on the Council website: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/coronavirus-covid-19/5-steps-to-better-connectivity/
For more information, or to find out who your local Community Co-Ordinator is, contact email@example.com
A successful micro distillery near Machynlleth was the toast of Wales at the 2021 World Gin Awards.
Dyfi Distillery, based at Corris Craft Centre, a hub for thriving independent craft producers near Machynlleth, triumphed in all three categories it entered, winning ‘Best in Country’ awards.
The multi-award winning distillery’s Dyfi Original was named Best Welsh Dry Gin, while Pollination Gin scooped Best Welsh Contemporary Gin and Navigation Gin was named the Best Welsh Matured Gin.
In the sister competition, Icons of Gin, Dyfi Distillery was shortlisted for the worldwide award of Craft Producer of the Year.
“We’re a bit bowled over,” said Danny Cameron, who co-founded the distillery with his brother Pete more than five years ago. “Given what thriving and high quality gin producers we have across Wales just now, it’s a remarkable result.”
One of the UK’s most prestigious craft gin producers, the distillery operates from within the Dyfi UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, and is, unusually for a distillery of its size, frequently open to passing visitors.
Pollination Gin, winner of the Best Welsh Contemporary Gin award.
“We are currently working towards reopening as soon as we are able and our plans naturally depend on the coronavirus situation,” said the railway’s marketing manager Oliver Edwards.
“Our volunteers and staff are giving a lot of thought to how we operate responsibly – our experience in 2020 gave us fantastic learning and great visitor feedback which reflected the preparatory efforts of our team.”
The railway will shortly be launching a new website which will feature a wide range of experiences planned on the line for 2021. Highlights of the season are expected to include the return of the 1902-built original locomotive ‘The Earl’ following a major overhaul at the Vale of Rheidol Railway, first-class rides featuring the line’s Sierra Leone Railways Independence Carriage, vintage train days and a host of further events.
Everyone at the railway is closely monitoring the lockdown situation and Government advice – trains will only begin running when it is considered safe to do so. Services will be announced on the website, www.wllr.org.uk, and the railway’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WelshpoolSteamRailway.
James comes to the Llanfair line from the National Tramway Museum at Crich, Derbyshire, where he was facilities and infrastructure manager. He was unanimously selected from more than 100 applicants for the W&LLR post.
The railway’s interview panel was impressed by his management of an overwhelmingly volunteer workforce at Crich, during which he successfully delivered several major projects, and his extensive experience gained across the heritage and tourism sector.
“Over the coming months, I am looking forward to getting to grips with the challenges of the general manager role, meeting the team and leading the organisation forward to future opportunities,” said James.
"I was impressed with the team's careful Covid-safe operations in 2020 - we'll just have to do the same in 2021 to make sure everyone is safe, comfortable and can enjoy their time at the railway.”
James started at Llanfair on February 1, beginning a handover period with Charles who will step down on March 31. After six years in post, Charles insists he won’t be disappearing – he is a qualified fireman on the challenging line and intends to make regular return visits to “shovel some coal on steam engines.”
James Brett (front) will be taking over as Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s general manager from Charles Spencer who is retiring.
Photo: Andrew Charman/W&LLR
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