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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Residents urged to register interest in housing scheme

* An artist's impression of the scheme.
A call has gone out across Denbighshire for eligible residents to register their interest in moving into a £12m landmark extra care housing scheme now under construction.
And such has been the interest already in Awel y Dyffryn in Denbigh, that Grŵp Cynefin, the housing association behind the 66-apartment scheme, has urged would-be tenants to sign up sooner rather than later in order not to miss out.
It is to hold an information day, in Denbigh Museum, on Wednesday 15 May between 2pm and 7pm.
Construction on the site of the derelict former Middle Lane School is due for completion in mid-2020.
Preference for tenancies will be given to Denbighshire residents aged 60 and over.
Awel y Dyffryn will meet the needs of older people who want to live independently in their own homes, but with care and support available 24 hours.
Tenants will be able to access shared facilities including a restaurant; activities room; communal lounges; landscaped gardens and laundry.
Grŵp Cynefin and Denbighshire County Council staff will be on hand at the open day, to explain the specification of apartments, about communal rooms and shared facilities, the services on offer, and also how to apply to be considered for an apartment.
Extra benefits on offer will include intergenerational events to tackle loneliness and mental health, together with other social and leisure activities.
Awel y Dyffryn is Grŵp Cynefin’s fifth extra care scheme, and its second in Denbighshire. Its other, long-established, schemes are located in Bala, Holyhead, Ruthin and Porthmadog.
Its accommodation will comprise 42 two-bedroom and 24 one-bedroom apartments.
Awel y Dyffryn is a joint project between Grŵp Cynefin and Denbighshire County Council, with financial support from the Welsh Government,
Grŵp Cynefin chief executive, Shan Lloyd Williams, said: “Awel y Dyffryn will not only help meet the supported housing needs of older and vulnerable residents in the county.
“A number of years ago, Grŵp Cynefin pledged to provide tenants with more than just housing. So we’ll also be offering many services, events and activities, to help support the overall good health and wellbeing in the wider community.”
Head of housing services, Noela Jones said: “The addition of a quality new housing development alone, is a breath of fresh air to Denbigh town centre, where the former grammar school building had been declining for a number of years.”
Phil Gilroy, Denbighshire County Council’s Head of Community Support Services said: “We are pleased to be working with Grŵp Cynefin on this project which will provide quality housing as well as support residents’ well-being.
“Extra care housing is a key part of our Corporate Plan and making more housing options open to people in Denbighshire is a priority for us.”
Awel y Dyffryn is being developed by local contractor, R L Davies, of Colwyn Bay.

* For more information visit

Monday, April 29, 2019

Ruthin becomes Denbighshire’s first coach-friendly town

* Dignitaries at the awarding of coach-friendly status to Ruthin. 

Ruthin has been declared Denbighshire’s first coach-friendly town - which will be interest to Llangollen which itself attracts many coaches

Ruthin has been awarded Coach Friendly Town status by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT).

It joins the few select places that have also achieved this status in Wales – namely Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, Llandudno and Cardiff.

Heather Williams, Ruthin town councillor and chairman of the working group set up to achieve this status, said:  “A couple of years ago, Denbighshire County Council Tourism Marketing and Events team invited representatives of Denbighshire town/city councils to go on a learning journey to Betws-y-Coed. Whilst there, we had discussions with the Destination Manager of Conwy County Borough Council about how Conwy county had achieved coach friendly status for three towns.

“Following this visit, Ruthin Town Council set up a working group to assess how Ruthin could meet the criteria needed to meet coach friendly status. We are now really pleased to be awarded this prestigious title. We hope that this new status will enable the town to attract more coach tours, and therefore more visitors, to this historic and attractive town.  Ruthin has so much to offer, such as the internationally renowned Craft Centre, the fascinating Gaol and historic timber-framed Nantclwyd y Dre.”

The criteria to achieve coach friendly status includes clear signage for visiting coaches, adequate coach parking provision, facilities for groups and a website providing information for coach groups. 

Ruthin Town Council added additional information to its website to give practical information and details of attractions and trails/tours for coach companies/group organisers. Further information can be found on the website page

It is hoped that the award for Ruthin will encourage other places in Denbighshire to work on achieving coach friendly status, in order to encourage even more visitors to the county. 

MP highlights Co-op membership successes

* Susan Elan Jones MP with Co-op Group staff and representatives of the Stiwt Theatre and Wrexham Inclusion FC at the Stiwt, Rhos.

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones recently met with Co-op staff and representatives of local projects supported by the company's membership scheme.

Ms Jones, who earlier this month urged Home Office Ministers to bring in tougher laws to protect shopworkers from attacks, visited Rhos Co-op and later held meetings with representatives of the Stiwt Theatre, Wrexham Inclusion Football Club and the Brymbo Heritage Orchard project. 

The MP also heard about the Co-op's nationwide programmes to tackle crime, loneliness and the evils of modern slavery.

She said: "There's a really strong Co-operative tradition in our local area. Like many people around here, I shop regularly at the Co-op and I'm a Co-op member too. 

"I think it's great to see how the Co-op invests in our local community. From funding to restore the Stiwt clock to its former glory to support for the remarkable Wrexham Inclusion FC to grants to help the new Brymbo Heritage Orchard project, the Co-op is doing so much to promote real grassroots community action."  

Michael Gallagher, area manager for the Co-op, said: “We were delighted to welcome Susan Elan Jones MP to our store. 

"The Co-op operates at the heart of local life and it is a special year this year as the Co-op marks its 175th anniversary. 

"At heart. the Co-op is about connecting communities, bringing people together and making a difference. We believe co-operation is as relevant today as it has ever been, and the Co-op is committed to creating and sharing value in the communities which it serves, while tackling the issues which its members and customers care about."         

Under the Co-op's membership scheme, members receive a 5% reward when buying own brand products and the Co-op donates a further 1% to local causes. 

In the last year alone the Co-op returned £79 million to members and their communities – £60 million directly to members and £19 million to over 4,000 community projects across the UK.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Railway launches appeal to buy historic horse-drawn dray

* The historic horse-drawn dray. 
Llangollen Heritage Group has been negotiating the acquisition of a historic horse-drawn dray dating from the turn of the last century. 

And it has launched a crowd-funding appeal to buy and transport it back to the railway for public display and operation during special events. 

The Great Western Railway dray was among the property of a deceased gentleman who formerly worked at the Swindon railway works. 

It was discovered in a domestic garage earlier this year in Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire having been stored there since the early 1960s.

TV's Michael Portillo, a keen supporter of railways, has already voiced his backing for our project.

He said: "I am delighted to hear of the discovery and purchase of a very historic Great Western Railway horse-drawn dray soon to be brought to the Llangollen Railway. It will make a spectacular addition to the heritage artefacts on display and will bring great pleasure to enthusiasts and visitors."

Railway horse-drawn drays were used extensively in the early days of the railways to bring goods to a railhead or take them away. Many thousands of these carts were built before the general advent of commercial motorised traffic.

This rare example was built by the Great Western Railway and bears the works No. 3314. It dates back to the turn of the 1900s.

The design was classified by the Great Western Railway as a “trolley” and refers to the fact that there was no permanent seating arrangement for the drayman, as he was expected to sit on the load.​

* To help the appeal you can donate through the crowd-funding page at:

Saturday, April 27, 2019

New way to run county leisure facilities is planned

Various leisure facilities and functions provided by Denbighshire County Council could soon be delivered via an alternative delivery model.

The proposals for a council-owned not-for-profit trading company, which also involve the International Pavilion in Llangollen which is not owned by the council, could be operational as early as April next year.

Denbighshire’s cabinet is to consider the proposals at its April meeting and make a recommendation to full council in May.

The council-owned trading company would enable the service to trade more commercially, to help sustain the facilities, as well as making savings for the authority of £800,000 in the first year.

Apart from the Pavilion, the facilities proposed to be included are the county’s seven leisure centres as well as the Prestatyn Nova, SC2, Rhyl Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl Events Arena and events function, North Wales Bowls Centre, Rhyl Town Hall, Ruthin Craft Centre, 1891, Café R (Ruthin) and Strategic Leisure.

Whilst the consideration of an alternative delivery model (ADM) is new to the council, many other councils across the UK are already using similar AMDs to deliver a range of functions and the Council has engaged extensively with these as the Denbighshire model has been drawn up.

Graham Boase, corporate director for the Economy and Public Realm, said: “We are very proud of our leisure services in Denbighshire. Investment by the council over the past 10 years has seen visitor numbers increase and our facilities are now first class and up-to-date, comparing favourably with the best leisure facilities in the industry.

“We have recognised the need for on-going investment at times of significant financial challenge, as we can clearly see the benefits to people’s health and well-being. We have also listened to the public as the demand for leisure sessions grew and continues to grow across the council.

“This model will allow a more flexible, innovative and entrepreneurial approach to commercial leisure, whilst allowing the council to retain complete control through the creation of a brand new board that will be responsible for running the company.

“This will ensure the company continues to deliver a high quality leisure provision long into the future, but as the company would be solely owned by the council it will be the council that sets the priorities for the company and the level of service expected to be delivered.

“As such the public should see very little difference in terms of the quality of the services provided or the ‘look and feel’ of the facilities themselves.”

If the business case for the plan is supported by the cabinet they will recommend progressing with the new company to full council in May, after which a number of further decisions will be required over the summer and autumn to ensure the company is set up in a way that provides the council with the necessary controls.

Chairman of the Eisteddfod Dr Rhys Davies said: "The Eisteddfod owns the freehold of the Pavilion and there is a long lease in favour of the county council. Any change to arrangements at the Pavilion would need the Eisteddfod’s permission." 

This position was confirmed by the council whose spokesperson said: “If the proposal is agreed we will enter in negotiations with the owners to negotiate new arrangements that will involve the new company.”

Skoda Karoq follows well in footprints of Yeti

* The Skoda Karoq.

* The all-black cab of the Karoq.

Skoda Karoq road test by Steve Rogers

If Yeti got Skoda started in the SUV race then Karoq is taking over the baton and is flying.

The Yeti had a name as wacky as the vehicle itself and became a huge favourite because of its quirky looks, versatility and value for money.

So should Skoda have given us a Yeti 2? Not really. Things have moved on drastically in the new SUV-crossover world and Karoq is a completely different car. Well, different in as much as it is bigger, has a more mainstream shape and is a lot more sophisticated - overalls versus trendy Chinos and polo shirt.

Karoq has been built for this new world and sits on the Volkswagen group's famed MQB platform, the one that fits uncle Tom Cobbly and all. Golf and Porsche Macan are not bad bed partners so Karoq is in good company.

Where does Karoq sit on the crowded SUV merry-go-round? In size it slots into the lower end of the medium compartment so its, Peugeot 3008, Seat Ateca, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Kia Sportage etc. In truth they are all much of a muchness and the one you choose may well be the company offering the best deal.

Crucially Karoq offers something different from Ateca, its close relative, and does not have to worry about clashing with VW Tiguan which has grown in size and price.

The Skoda has the Volkswagen group's SUV design DNA running right through it so it is middle of the road attractive rather than a head turner. Inside throws up no major surprises either. Compared to a Peugeot 3008 the layout is deadly plain, the plastics might be good quality but the cabin is bereft of colour - apart from black. Yet the layout is spot on. You don't have to go searching around, wherever the hand goes will find the right switch.

The seven-inch touchscreen handles all the major functions apart from the separate heating controls, which is good, and is the focal point that lights up the otherwise bland layout. They call it an infotainment centre now because it houses the radio, navigation, info about the car, Bluetooth and mobile phone paraphernalia. Call it what you will but its performance is exceptional with blurringly fast response times.

As for the content of the cabin, well that's a lot brighter. Yeti was famed for its versatility and Karoq is following in its footsteps.

Let's start with the seats, in particular the three in the back which are individual and slide, recline, and come out altogether although I couldn't work out how to do it even after the reading the handbook instructions.

Skoda prides itself on the Simply Clever promotional tag so Karoq is littered with thoughtful touches. The sealed mini rubbish bin that slots into the door pocket is perfect for discarding sweet papers and such like, then there is the removable torch in the side wall of the boot, a reversible rubber boot cover, pop up shelf on the backs of the front seats along with a variety of handy hooks along the side walls.

Karoq offers four-wheel drive, something else that sets it apart from Ateca, and as expected drives particularly well doing its best to cushion passengers from the many and numerous road blemishes.

I still think Ateca has the best driving dynamics of any SUV in this class but the Skoda will not disappoint and neither will the engine range.

My test car was powered by the impressive two litre diesel and was averaging 46 mpg according to the long term computer read out and nothing had changed after I had finished my stint.

As a caravaner this would be my choice but with diesel power in the doldrums there are good petrol options, in particular the 1.5TSI which is an absolute cracker.

There is only one minor snag that needs attention. The speedometer has no 30 mph digit presumably because the standard calibration is for kilometres. Selecting the digital speedo from the menu in the binnacle means you can use nothing else. A separate readout would solve the problem for UK drivers.

So yet another great car from Skoda and just the job if you are looking for something a bit smaller and cheaper than big brother Kodiaq.

Karoq SE L 4x4
2.0 TDI; 147bhp
0-62mph 8.7secs; 121mpg
56.5mpg combined
Emissions: 132g/km. Road tax £140
Insurance group 15
Price: £28,110

Friday, April 26, 2019

Eisteddfod gets £19,000 grant for heritage project

* The eisteddfod field in 1952.
Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £19,900 for an exciting heritage project, Archiving the Past.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will be the first step in collating and digitalising the wealth of archive material relating to the festival so that it can be enjoyed by all.
Supported through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project will enable the eisteddfod to employ an archivist who will work with volunteers and children from Dinas Brân School to bring the history of the festival to life. 
Work will include developing a sustainable and expandable online archive system, educational resources and displays for use in the community and a short film about the history of the eisteddfod.
The first International Musical Eisteddfod was held in Llangollen in 1947 as a way of bringing people together after the horrors of the Second World War. 

Over the 70 year history of the festival a huge array of photographs, documents, audio and video has been generated and distributed across the globe.

This project will begin the process of identifying and bringing together in one location this wealth of archive material so that it is much more accessible and can be investigated by all that have an interest.
Commenting on the award, Barrie Potter, chair of the Archive Committee, said: “We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players and are confident the project will ensure that the history of Llangollen Eisteddfod is preserved and celebrated."
Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Wales, Richard Bellamy, said: "Archives have never been more important. They provide such a valuable resource for anyone who wants to delve into their past. 

"Thanks to National Lottery players, the National Lottery Heritage Fund is able to support projects such as Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod – Archiving the Past that are bursting with information about what life was like and how that has shaped who we are today.”

Programme of outdoor events unveiled

* A number of the events will be held at Plas Newydd.

The Clwydian Range & Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is promoting a series of events and activities in the area over the next month or so. They are:

Thursday May 2: 10am-1pm

Community Miles Route Sun Bank.

Meet outside the Tourist Information Centre in Castle Street, Llangollen for a guided walk of 4.5 miles around the countryside of Llangollen visiting Castell Dinas Bran.

May 4-6:

Llangollen Walking Festival, all within the Clwydian Range & Dee Valley AONB and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tuesday May 7:

Go Wild in the Dell. Curious Creatures. At Plas Newydd. Re-wild you child by taking part in nature-based activities. All you need is outdoor  clothing and wellies. Parents stay and play.

Wednesday May 8:

Bwlch y Groes short walk.

Meet in the westbound layby at Glyndyfrdwy LL21 9HN.
Discover efforts to conserve the declining curlew population.

Sunday May 12:

Guided walk Valle Crucis Abbey and the Pillar of Eliseg.
Meet ast Llantysilio Green car park.

Join the Friends of the Clwydian Range & Dee Valley AONB to explore the abbey and 9th century pillar taking in part of the World Heritage Site and industry that linked the canal.

Thursday May 16: 7.30-10pm

Evening walk to Biddulph Tower.

Meet in the Market Street car park in Llangollen.
Join a leisurely four-mile evening stroll to enjoy the setting sun, the calls of the curlew and far-reaching views of the Dee Valley from the ruins of Biddulph Tower. Booking required.


Summer Trail at Plas Newydd.

Learn about the typical year for the Ladies of Llangollen by finding clues and answering questions, Prize of completion. Cost is £2.50 each.

Nature Week Tuesday June 4: 4-5.30pm

Go Wild in the Dell. Tremendous Trees at Plas Newydd.

Re-wild your child with nature-based activities. All you need is outdoor clothing and wellies. Parents play and stay.

* For bookable events, go to: and search: Clwydian Range & Dee Valley AONB. To contact Clwydian Range & Dee Valley AONB, call 01824 712757.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Clwyd South Tories tell Theresa May to go

Members of the Clwyd South Conservative Association, which covers Llangollen, yesterday "overwhelmingly" supported a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May.

Association chairman Gareth Baines said: "The overwhelming vote of no confidence by ordinary Conservative grass roots members in Clwyd South should send a clear and unequivocal message to Theresa May: go now.

"Whilst Clwyd South may have been the first association nationwide to hold such a vote, I’ve been inundated with contact from other associations who now seek to follow our lead."

He added: "Coupled with polling from Conservative Home, which shows Mrs May to be the least popular Prime Minister ever, it’s clear the overwhelming majority wish for Mrs May to stand down before she does anymore damage to the country, or to the party.

"Yesterday’s vote was preceded by an open and amicable debate, where various issues regarding Mrs May’s leadership were aired, mostly around things not related to Brexit. 

"It is clear, through her own actions, Mrs May has lost the support and goodwill of grass roots Conservatives in Clwyd South and across the country."

Busy April for Llangollen Inner Wheel Club

April has been a busy month for Llangollen Inner Wheel members.

It began with an inter-club meeting when Bethan Mascarenhas, daughter of club member Carol, gave a talk on Celtic Myths and Legends.

* Enid Law has been selected
as  Association President for
Great Britain and Northern Ireland
An experienced performer, she delighted members with her tales which were enlivened by lovely singing.

Several members then joined Llangollen Rotary Club to host students from Manchester University for the annual international weekend. 

This project has been a feature of the Rotary and Inner Wheel year for over 40 years, and it is always a pleasure, and sometimes a humbling experience, to get to know splendid young people from all over the world and to give them a break from their studies in the lovely scenery of Llangollen. 

Immediately afterwards, many members headed for Cardiff for the annual nationwide conference of Inner Wheel members, and it was a special delight to be there when Llangollen member Enid Law was invited on stage as the Association President for Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the coming year.  

This is the first time that a member of the Llangollen Club has been elected to this prestigious and important post. 

Members will all be supporting Enid in her many duties and have wished her well in her important year.

In the meantime club members are looking forward to an interesting meeting on May 6th at the Hand Hotel when Wendy Davies will be speaking about hats. There is certainly plenty of variety at Llangollen Inner Wheel.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Police appeal over stolen dog

* Flora the German Shepherd has been stolen from the Llangollen area.
The Leader is reporting online this morning (Wednesday) that North Wales Police have sent out an appeal after a one-year-old dog was stolen from the Llangollen area.
Police are trying to track her down and taken to social media to ask for any information that may help them.
The appeal was tweeted out via the NWP Wrexham Rural Twitter account, which read:
“Have you seen Flora? She's a 1 year old #GermanShepherd. Kennel Club registered and micro-chipped, she was reported stolen from the #Llangollen area on 31/3/19. Anyone with information please call us on 101 quoting ref. X053652.”

£10,000 marketing campaign up for grabs

Charities, social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations in Wales will have the chance to win a £10,000 video marketing campaign as part of the brand new Rockadove Third Sector Prize, launched last week. 
Leading Welsh video production agency Rockadove is giving away the £10,000 video project as part of the company's tenth year celebrations. 
Working in partnership with Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), the prize will see a third sector organisation supported with a complete video marketing campaign worth £10,000 - devised, scripted, produced, distributed and evaluated by Rockadove - totally free of charge. 
rockadove 1
* Phil Fiander (left) and Lloyd Morgan launching the prize. 
Lloyd Morgan, Rockadove's owner and managing director, announced the prize at WCVA's gofod3 event last week (21 March), saying: 'We wanted to do something special to kick start our tenth year celebrations, so we decided to work with the third sector to showcase just how effective video can be in that space and make a real difference to that organisation in the process. 
'If you are a charity, social enterprise and not-for-profit working in Wales, please get in touch and tell us about your next big project or an issue you face. Or a policy you need to promote. If we think video can help, you could win a complete video campaign. 
'Facebook alone generates around 8 billion video views each day. We want to make sure that Wales' third sector organisations tap into that. We have a fantastic, hard-working third sector here in Wales and we can't wait to get started.' 
rockadove 2

Phil Fiander, Deputy Chief Executive of WCVA said: 'The Rockadove Third Sector Prize is an excellent opportunity for third sector organisations in Wales to tell their story. We know there are some incredible things happening across Wales and it's often the groups in the sector that don't have any budget for video marketing that have the most inspiring stories to tell. WCVA is really excited to be part of this new prize and helping third sector organisations to bring their work to life.' 
Entries received before the 1 May deadline will be shortlisted by the team at Rockadove before the judging panel makes the final decision. 
* For more information and to enter, visit before 6pm on May 1.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Save the planet demo staged in Castle Street

Yesterday (Monday) afternoon saw the first Extinction Rebellion Llangollen meet-up being held in Castle Street.

The message from the protesters was: “Switch to lean, Switch to green, We want all our sources clean!”

* Pictures by courtesy of Cariad Yoga.

Operatic tunes up for Fiddler on the Roof

* Members of the cast of Fiddler on the Roof. Picture by Barrie Potter.

For the first time in 36 years Llangollen Operatic Society is to present the stage version of big screen blockbuster Fiddler on the Roof later this month.

The society last put on the show back in 1983 to great acclaim and a completely new cast bring it back to Llangollen Town Hall from April 30-May 4.  

The Bock, Harnick and Stein classic is set in the early 20th century in a Jewish village in Russia and their centuries old traditions which the village milkman Reb Tevye is determined to hold on to.  

But change is coming and it is difficult to ignore it.

The show features a host of memorable songs, including the show stopper If I Were a Rich Man, Sunrise Sunset and Tradition.

A strong cast is headed by Bill Hughes taking on the role of Tevye.

He comes to Fiddler fresh from his role with the society playing likeable cockney rogue Doolittle in their production of My Fair Lady last year.

There are many new faces in the line up with some coming from as far away as Colwyn Bay to take on key roles.  

A number of talented young performers are also joining the cast from the society's junior section, the Young 'Uns, who recently presented a smash-hit version of Grease in Llangollen.  

Producer Helen Belton said: "We welcome them to Fiddler because they are tomorrow's leads, chorus, producers, directors."
Musical director for the show is Leigh Mason who holds the same role with the famous Fron Male Voice Choir.

Director is Alison Ravenscroft and choreographer is Pamela Williams.

* Tickets for Fiddler on the Roof are now available online at as well as at the following Llangollen establishments - Jades, Llangollen Oggie and Fine Foods and Gwyn the Butcher.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Llangollen Railway bridges the gap at Corwen

* The work in progress looking across the area towards Corwen.

In the course of a four-day exercise beginning on April 15, a team of Llangollen Railway's Corwen Project volunteers helped local contractor Arwel Dolben with infilling the gap in the railway embankment. 

This has long been seen as the major obstruction in completing the railway line through to the new Corwen terminus.

Many tonnes of infill material have been recovered from the old Ruthin branch embankment and brought round by the dumper loads to the site of the gap.

The infill has required careful layering and rolling to provide a firm base as the level was brought up by 10 feet in places across the width of the former trackbed.

At the end on the first phase of the exercise project manager Richard Dixon-Gough said:
" May I, on behalf of the project team and Llangollen Railway, express my thanks and gratitude to all who have worked so hard over some long days and taken on the physical effort to achieve so much this week.
 "With the support of our contractors we have literally moved mountains and the first phase of the exercise has been virtually completed. Without the input from everyone involved this would not have happened."

The cost of the exercise was met through the Infill the Gap appeal for donations which has raised over £10,000 from supporters and well wishers, with £500 coming from a charity raffle organised by Corwen townsfolk.

Completion of the final phase of the project will continue after Easter. When complete new track will be laid to connect the existing railhead with the loop line in the platform area.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter to all readers!

Town welcomes Nicaraguan visitor

* David McKnight of Llangollen, who organised the event, 
with Johnny Hodgson and Ben Gregory.

Llangollen is renowned for welcoming the world to these shores, and the town once again proved to be an international diplomatic hub as it hosted a highly respected former Nicaraguan government official.

Johnny Hodgson, who was appointed chairman of the Bluefields Commission on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua and is a former elected official in his region, was a guest speaker at a Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign event in the town.

Thirty years after his first visit to Wales Johnny revisited the country to talk about how life had improved on the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast over the last decade, and the impact of last year's violence on his country.

The Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast is a multicultural and multilingual region with its own autonomous government. Johnny drew comparisons between his region of Nicaragua and Wales.

Ben Gregory of the Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign said: "We were extremely glad to welcome Johnny back to Wales. This is his fifth visit to Wales over the last 30 years. 

"He talked about the things that have changed recently - investment in infrastructure, with new roads, and electricity and water being provided to a greater number of people. But he also talked about the challenge posed by reconciliation after last years violence."

* Anybody interested in the Wales-Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign can find more information at 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Council honoured for creation of Centenary Square

Llangollen Civic Society has presented the Town Council with an award in recognition of its foresight in completing the project to build the new Centenary Square. Town Mayor Cllr John Haddy and Deputy Mayor Cllr Isobel Richards are shown receiving the award from the society's chairman Mel Lawrence on behalf of the council. Picture by Peter Jones.

Chapel tearoom serves up successful first year

* Ken Skates AM with owner Sally Roberts, right, and employees Eliza, Abbie and Toni.

A derelict chapel brought back to life with the help of the Welsh Government has celebrated a successful first year as a popular tearoom.

Sally Roberts and Carl Pottenger took on the ambitious project to convert the former Bryn Seion Chapel on Station Road, Trevor, into the Pontcysyllte Chapel Tearoom.

The business launched in February 2018 after a £30,000 Welsh Government grant and was officially opened by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport last June.

Sally recently gave Clwyd South AM Ken Skates a tour of the premises.

He said: “The place looks stunning – Sally and Carl have done an amazing job. They employed a number of highly skilled local craftsmen at the outset and have even matched the woodwork to the original pulpit, which has been preserved as a key centrepiece.”

Mr Skates added: “The area has seen hugely increased visitor numbers since the aqueduct was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourism is a key driver of the local economy here in Clwyd South and businesses like this are vital in terms of offering quality and choice.

“The tearoom offers a wide range of homemade produce from local suppliers, which helps give such a unique local business a unique local flavour. I’m proud that the Welsh Government was able to help the business get up and running and I hope to see it continue to go from strength to strength.”

Phase two of the project is now under way, with the transformation of the remainder of the building into five bedrooms which will see the tearooms expand to offer bed and breakfast.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Competent Scooby is a bit of a rough rider

* The new Subaru XV.

... and the cab.

Subaru XV road test by Steve Rogers

My old pal Elwyn posted on Facebook... "I must be getting old. Had a lift in a top of the range Subaru. It may well have been a NASA spacecraft for all I knew."

Ex-journo is Elwyn so he has a way with words. He drives his trusty but ageing Land Rover Freelander so Subaru's new compact crossover, the XV, with its futuristic touchscreen facia does have a spaceship look about it.

The conversation took the usual course with test cars and the next question was 'Is it any good'? to which I replied 'yes, but I am disappointed with the harsh ride.'

Hadn't noticed said Elwyn, which was hardly surprising as the XV is smooth enough on well tarred roads.

It got me wondering whether people like me, who drive different cars every week for a living, are too picky. Even my wife, who drives all the test cars, was happy with the Scooby until I mentioned it but conceded the ride was a bit hard after another trip behind the wheel.

The car we had driven before XV was the new Skoda Karoq, another compact SUV and a rival to the Subaru. That is always comfortable whether driving smooth motorways, bumpy B roads or cracked country lanes.

Was I right to put a dampener on Subaru's brightest newcomer? Absolutely. By today's standards the ride is below par, you pick up suspension thump over potholes, feel surface blemishes that should be smoothed over, and put up with more road noise than is the norm.

Some of this will be down to the suspension needs of the permanent four wheel drive system. Most of the new breed of SUVs have an 'on demand' system which is front wheel drive until a computer senses a loss of traction and sends a message to the back wheels to lend a hand. It is a lightweight, more fuel efficient system and useful in slippery conditions but will struggle with some of the tougher jobs the XV can take on.

Subaru has built its foundations on four wheel drive know-how and its sophisticated symmetrical system is the bees knees. You will find the same technology in Forester, Subaru's accomplished go anywhere, tackle anything SUV, so XV comes from good stock.

The compact crossover is a tough old world - Karoq, Toyota CR-V, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V are just a handful of the bright new stars so Subaru had to pull out all the stops with XV.

It is roughly the same size as the old model, apart from being a smidgen longer which gives it a smidgen more boot space, and loading has been made easier with a wider opening. Styling is sharp and is a car that will certainly turn more heads than the slightly bland Karoq.

There is nothing much wrong with the handling either which has a grippy, sporty edge to it, no doubt helped by that stiff suspension (sorry to mention that again) and is backed up by a lively 2-litre petrol engine. It is a bit of a screamer with the revs piled on and progresses smoothly through a six speed automatic gearbox. Steering wheel paddle shifters add to the fun if you want to switch to manual changes. There is a new 1.6 litre petrol available in both trim levels which brings the cost of the car down.

Hats off to Subaru for going the extra mile on safety. Its EyeSight system is about as good as it gets and uses two windscreen mounted cameras to distinguish objects whether they be vehicles, motorbikes, cycles or lane markings and will emergency brake the car if the driver fails to react. I've tried it in controlled conditions in a Forester and is highly effective.

XV's safety screen, the off road credentials and generous spec are the trio of features Subaru hopes will drawer punters to the new model. The top SE Premium wants for nothing with full leather, navigation, heated front seats and automatic dipping headlights stand out features in a very long list. Against its rivals the XV is damn good value but in this company it has to be.

Fast facts
XV SE Premium Lineartronic
2-litre petrol; 153bhp
0-62mpg 10.4seccs; 120mph
40.9mpg combined
Emissions: 155g/km.
First year road tax £500
Insurance group 16
Price: £29,060