30 July 2017
2 July 2017
The installation, entitled Slate or State, is on display in the Grand Hall of Penrhyn Castle from 1 July until 5 November 2017.
“This sculpture was developed as part of a year-long residency by artists Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich. It is a symbolic object; its form is drawn from Victorian paintings and sketches of Penrhyn Quarry, the quarry once owned by Lord Penrhyn.
“The choice of material for the sculpture draws inspiration from the history of protest, and large-scale inflatables that since the 1920s have taken to the streets in collective actions that have called for a fairer society.
“Walker and Bromwich are known internationally for their large-scale participatory events and exhibitions that invite audiences to imagine better worlds. Their residency at Penrhyn Castle was the final act of a three-year collaboration between Arts Council Wales and the National Trust, and their brief was to “interrogate the castle’s controversial history, the stories surrounding it and its relationship with local communities”.
“Walker and Bromwich have worked with individuals, schools and community groups in the quarry town of Bethesda to develop this sculptural work. This sculpture was the focal point of a symbolic event that paid tribute to the local community, which staged the longest strike in British industrial history.
“On 1 July 2017 the Penrhyn Choir processed this sculpture from Bethesda into the Grand Hall. During this performance the original demands of the Great Strike, combined with demands of today, were sung by the choir: colliding in time two points in history where working conditions have been at the forefront of social change.”
– Sara Roberts, Curator
14 May 2017
In 1884 a four-mile-long, single track branch line of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) from Bangor to Bethesda opened to passengers, linking to the Chester and Holyhead main line just outside Bangor. The route included Dinas Tunnel, a 297-yard-long (272 m), single-bore tunnel approached from the Bangor (northern) end through a sheer-faced rock cutting. On exiting the tunnel at the Bethesda (southern) end, the track crossed the Ogwen river over the Bryn Bella Viaduct. Increasing competition from buses led to the closing of passenger services on the branch line in 1951, with the line finally closing to all traffic in 1963.
In 2016 Gwynedd Council set aside £200,000 and secured an additional £230,000 from the Welsh Government in order to develop the disused tunnel so as to open a new section of the Lon Las Ogwen ‘multi-user’ path. This 11-mile-long cycle route follows parts of the trackbeds of the narrow-gauge Penrhyn Quarry Railway and the standard-gauge LNWR branch line and has until now been interrupted by a mile-long detour around the tunnel by road.
The development work was carried out by Trawsfynydd-based contractor G H James and involved: securing the rockface in the cutting; lighting the tunnel; installing safety railings on the viaduct parapets; and clearing and surfacing the path. The new 800-metre-long section of the route opened in May 2017.
23 August 2016
With its roots dating back to the founding of the Antiquarian Society of Perth in 1784, Perth Museum and Art Gallery is one of the oldest museums in the UK. The museum owns a collection of more than half a million items. The museum building, originally known as The Monument, was designed by amateur architect David Morison (c1792-1855), who was Secretary of the Perth’s Literary and Antiquarian Society. The building opened in 1824 and was donated by the Society to the city of Perth in 1915 on the condition that it remained in use as a public museum or library. An extension, designed by Perth architects Smart Stewart Mitchell, to the original building was completed in 1935.
2 May 2016
Erw Feiriol Cemetery in Llanfairfechan is in the care of Conwy County Borough Council. The land for the cemetery was purchased by The Burial Board of Llanfairfechan after the parish passed a resolution to provide a local burial ground in 1878.
2 May 2016
The English translation of the place name Llanfairfechan is little church of St Mary. St Mary’s parish church was built there on the site of an earlier church in 1849. It was designed by diocesan architect Henry Kennedy (1814-1898). Kennedy was born in London and settled in Bangor after training as an architect. His career in church architecture was prolific and spanned some 50 years. The old parish church, which is a Grade II listed building, closed in 1999. The historic dedication to St Mary was then transferred to the nearby Christ Church. The latter, which is also a Grade II listed building, was built in 1864, the construction being funded by landowner John Platt (1817-1872) of Bryn-y-Neuadd Hall. As an anglican place of worship, it was built to cater for English tourists visiting the town and also to oppose to the growing number of nonconformist chapels in the area.
19 March 2016
Plas Ty Coch is a Grade II listed early 19th century villa overlooking the Menai Strait on the north-eastern outskirts of Caernarfon. An associated tunnel, also Grade II listed, links the villa with farm buildings on the other side of Bangor Road and is dated 1807. The mansion may have been built around the same time and first appears on local maps in 1841. It was later divided into two separate properties – the main, square-plan villa, and the long service wing to the North East, the latter becoming known as Ty Coch Farmhouse.
In 1998 Ty Coch Farm was sold for £230,000. In 2000 local developer Chris Goalen had plans to convert the villa into a 10-bedroom hotel and 30-seat restaurant. This was part of a wider scheme to develop both Ty Coch and the adjoining Plas Brereton estate, in which Plas Brereton manor would have been converted into a seven-bedroom hotel and a 96-seat restaurant, outbuildings would have been converted and extended for use as a fitness centre and swimming pool, and the private dock and former dock keeper’s house (‘Beach Cottage’) would also have been restored. Goalen’s plans never came to fruition though and the property together with the nearby Plas Brereton farmhouse were offered for sale in 2008 for £3.95 million. Plas Coch has, however, since remained empty with its condition steadily deteriorating. Its most recent owners, Somerset-based Menai Strait Properties, was voluntarily dissolved in June 2015.
6 March 2016
Caernarfon’s former community hospital Ysbyty Bryn Seiont was featured in 2011 in a previous article, which provided details of its history. In brief, the hospital was founded in 1914 and was closed in 2004 when its services were transferred to the nearby Eryri Hospital. It was thereafter used for administrative purposes until the five-acre site was sold in 2009 to Wrexham-based private-care-home company Pendine Park.
On acquiring the site, the new owners announced their intention of demolishing the old hospital and building ‘Pendine Park Care Centre’, a £4 million dementia centre. A planning application for a 77-bed specialist nursing care facility was submitted in 2011 and approved in 2012. In 2013 further plans were lodged for an additional 16 companion living apartments for couples. Planning officials, however, recommended that permission be denied for this as, they said, it would be equivalent to building 16 new houses in open countryside. Nevertheless, Gwynedd councillors disregarded this and unanimously approved the application.
Building work, overseen by Denbighshire-based construction specialists Carroll Ltd, started in April 2014 and the ‘Bryn Seiont Newydd’ centre opened in October 2015 with the upper-floor accommodation opening at a later stage. The centre has accommodation, divided into eight small units, for 71 residents. The companion living apartments are to open in a second phase of the development. Total investment in the venture has risen from the initial £4 million to £7 million.
The centre has a musician and an artist in residence, with the arts playing an important role in Pendine’s enrichment philosophy. Members of Nantlle Vale Dog Training Club also make regular visits with their dogs as part of a popular pet-therapy programme.
5 March 2016
The history of Colwyn Bay’s Grade II listed pier, which opened in 1900, was covered in more detail in a previous article from five years ago. In the meantime, the historic structure has continued to rot away as the legal wrangling over its ownership has continued and Conwy council has shown little commitment to its preservation and ultimately declared its intention to demolish the pier. The major events in the story to date are summarised in the timeline below.
1899-1900 Pier is built to design by architects Maynall & Littlewood.
1920s Colwyn Bay Urban District Council buys the pier from the original owners the Victoria Pier Company.
1950s The popularity of the pier and its entertainments are in decline.
1960s The local council sells the pier to a Trust House Forte subsidiary.
1970s The pier pavilion, branded as The Dixieland Showbar, is a popular music-concert venue. Parkers Leisure purchases the pier.
1991 The pier closes and subsequently suffers from vandalism and arson.
1994 Mike Paxman buys the pier and undertakes some restoration work.
2003 Steve Hunt buys the pier and undertakes some repairs. The entrance buildings and part of the promenade open with the pavilion being used for special events.
2008 The pier closes when Hunt is declared bankrupt over a dispute with Conwy County Borough Council over business rates and council tax. The pier passes to a bankruptcy trustee.
2011 Estimated costs for a ‘basic renovation’ and demolition are £3.5 million and £1 million, respectively. Conwy council votes to purchase the pier. The trustee ‘disclaims his interest’ in the pier in order to avoid any future liability after part of it fell off onto a public thoroughfare. The pier then passes to the Crown Estate.
2012 In March Conwy council buys the pier for £36,000 using a grant from the Welsh Assembly Government. Ownership is disputed by Hunt, saying that it should have reverted to himself three years after the bankruptcy. In April Mold County Court rules that ownership should be determined at a later hearing. The Heritage Lottery Fund rejects the council’s bid for a £4.9 million grant to restore the structure. In August Cardiff County Court rejects Hunt’s claim of ownership.
2013 In April the High Court in London reserves judgement on Hunt’s appeal against the outcome of Cardiff County Court’s decision. In May the Heritage Lottery Fund awards almost £600,000 to Conwy council to develop restoration plans. With estimated costs of over £15 million to restore the pier, the council votes in December to de-list and demolish it.
2014 Conwy council returns the Heritage Lottery Fund grant in February.
2015 In January the council decides to await the decision of the Heritage Lottery Fund in respect of campaign group Colwyn Victoria Pier Trust’s £9.6 million bid for funding. The campaign group meets with the Heritage Lottery Fund in February. In May the Lottery grant application is rejected on the grounds that given the lack of support from Conwy council the project was deemed to have too high a risk. The council proceeds with its application for listed building consent to demolish the pier. In October, however, the Welsh Assembly Government rejects the council’s demolition request. The High Court rules that it would be ‘inappropriate’ to return the pier to Hunt, who then lodges an appeal against the decision.
2016 Conwy council starts work in January on a second application for consent to demolish Victoria Pier. Estimated costs for demolition are between £1m and £2m.