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Friday, July 1, 2022

Classic transport weekend is back at railway after three years


Over 300 vintage and classic cars, buses and other vehicles will herald the return of a much-loved event to Glyndyfrdwy Station on the Llangollen Railway this weekend.

Classic Transport Weekend last took place pre-pandemic in 2019 and in returns in fine style for 2022 with a record number of vehicles in attendance.

A busy timetable of steam, diesel and railcar trains will operate on the railway, centred around the village station of Glyndyfrdwy, where a vintage vehicle rally is held in a large field right next to the station. 

With trains currently running to Carrog and the new station at Corwen not-quite ready to receive trains, a free vintage bus service will operate between Corwen and Glyndyfrdwy to allow visitors to visit the rally from the western end of the Dee Valley.

The event has been organised by two of the railway’s younger volunteers, Tim Hines and George Walker, who are both under 30 years old. 

Tim said: "Taking on an event like this has been a real challenge for us. We have worked closely with Matt Davies, who conceived and ran the event between 2011 and 2019. Matt has been a huge help and very happy to pass his knowledge on to us. 

"After a three-year break due to the pandemic we have had an overwhelming response,  with over 300 vehicles booked to attend the rally at Glyndyfrdwy across the weekend. This will make it our biggest Classic Transport Weekend yet.

"We have trialled online vehicle entries this year, which hasn’t been without its challenges, but it has made the process easier from an administration point of view. Both George and I are really looking forward to the weekend after all the planning that has gone into it and we hope that everyone attending has a great day out - both on the railway and at the rally."

Glyndyfrdwy stationmaster Paul Bailey added: "We’re really looking forward to welcoming lots of visitors to our station again, which has been completely rebuilt by volunteers since it first reopened in 1991. 

"Our tearoom and station bar will be open all weekend for exhibitors and visitors. It’s a great opportunity to see our country station at its busiest, with a wonderful parade of classic cars and buses making their away across the traditional, gated level crossing between the station and signal box.

"Last month we repainted quite a lot of our station furniture in jubilee purple which will be on display for the last time this weekend before we restore them to their original colours."

* Tickets for the event are available in advance from the railway’s website or on the day from station ticket offices. An event flyer and a couple of photos of previous events are attached for your information.

 

Monday, June 27, 2022

llanblogger takes a short break

llanblogger is taking a short break and will be back in about a week's time.

Calls for UK Government to back Ruabon station lifts


* Ken with Cllr Dana Davies and former Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones at Ruabon station.

Community leaders have called on the UK Government to finally back the long-running campaign for lifts at Ruabon Station. 

Member of the Senedd Ken Skates was notified this week that Network Rail will nominate the Ruabon project for the next round of the UK Government’s Access for All programme, and was quick to declare his support. 

But the final say will come down to the UK Government, which has already stopped the project in its tracks twice by refusing to match the Welsh Government’s capital investment. 

The local MS and Ruabon councillor Dana Davies have worked alongside the Friends of Ruabon to campaign for improved access at the station.

The Welsh Government wants lifts installed to help people with mobility issues, families with young children and commuters carrying heavy luggage move between platforms, but the UK Government had twice refused to contribute to the costs even though the work comes under Westminster’s remit. 

Welsh Ministers have asked the UK Department for Transport to urgently prioritise work at Ruabon – with First Minister Mark Drakeford a keen supporter of the plans.

 

Clwyd South MS Mr Skates said: “It has been well documented that the Welsh Labour Government has twice before put money on the table for this long-awaited work to go ahead, even though it’s not a devolved area, and I know the Friends of Ruabon – and many other local people – have been extremely frustrated by the slow progress and false dawns.

 

“I have submitted a letter of support to Network Rail and I’m 100% behind this. The Friends of Ruabon and local campaigners can’t do any more, and the Welsh Government can’t do any more. The First Minister has even asked the UK Department for Transport to prioritise this work. We’ve done all we can – now it’s over the UK Government.”

 

Cllr Davies said: “Some years ago when the Welsh Government first committed to funding half of the project, we celebrated – we thought it was a done deal! We didn’t think there was any way the UK Government would refuse to fund half the cost of such an important project, particularly one it should be paying for in full.”

 

While transport is devolved to Wales, responsibility for track, station infrastructure and signalling remains with the UK Government. Over the past 20 years, Wales has received less than 2% of the £100bn+ that that UK Government has spent on rail enhancement – despite having 5% of the population and 11% of the track miles.

 

In 2017, former Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones presented a petition to Parliament on behalf of the Friends of Ruabon calling for action from the UK Government. And in an attempt to incentivise the UK Government to invest in Welsh stations, including Ruabon, the Welsh Government had offered to match-fund vital upgrades. But the UK Government had twice decided against funding for Ruabon, most recently in February 2020.

A factual briefing requested by Mr Skates from the Welsh Government stated: “Welsh Government, following detailed discussions with the rail industry on investment priorities, has twice submitted Ruabon Station as a priority nomination for UK Government investment in step-free access under the non-devolved Access for All programme. 

“The first was a request for a new replacement bridge with lifts, the second for a reduced cost alternative whereby lifts could be fitted to the existing structure. On both occasions, the strong case made for Ruabon was not accepted by the UK Government.”

New round of Loneliness and Social Isolation Grants announced

 


Denbighshire Council for Voluntary Service in partnership with Denbighshire County Council and the Welsh Government has announced a new round of the Loneliness and Social Isolation Grant.

Loneliness and social isolation can be experienced by anyone of any age and any background. 

It is required that the funding awarded is used to meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Increasing opportunities for people to connect 
  • A community infrastructure that supports connected communities
  • Cohesive and supportive communities
  • Building awareness and promoting positive attitudes
  • Mental health

Grants for individual projects are available for the financial years of 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 for up to £5,000 per year. You can apply for one or two years of funding.

To apply for this grant please view the Grant Application Form Here.

Once you have accessed the document please click File in the top left corner and download to get your modifiable version.

 

Information for Applicants: 

  • Please use the DVSC Application Form 
  • Grants for individual projects are for up to £5,000 per financial year 
  • The grants are a rolling programme and funds are limited 


For more information, please contact 01824 702 441 or email office@dvsc.co.uk


Sunday, June 26, 2022

Roadwork alert for Queen Street

Latest local roadworks alert from one.network is:

Queen Street, Denbighshire

28 June - 30 June

 

Delays likely - Traffic control (two-way signals)

 

Description: MJ QUINN TO RENEW JOINT BOX OR FRAME AND COVER...

 

Works location: AT JUNCTION OF BUTLERS HILL AND QUEEN STREET...

 

Public facing description: one.network has automatically assigned a category of Unclassified works to this Works based on the information available. Please note: Works Descriptions are not published by Openreach.

 

Responsibility for works: Openreach

 

Current status: Planned work about to start

 

Works reference: BC006MQONSAWN0SRWD5L183F

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Update on cost of living support payments in Denbighshire

Denbighshire County Council has administered over £3.2 million of cost of living support payments being funded by Welsh Government.

A total of 21,535 people in the county have already received the one off £150 payment. The Welsh Government’s Cost of Living Support Scheme is in place to help residents with cost of living increases and payments will be made to those with properties in Council Tax bands A-D.

Payments will also be made to residents who were in receipt of Council Tax Reduction Scheme Support on February 15, 2022, irrespective of the Council Tax Band, and those with properties in Council Tax Band E where the property has had modifications for disability, reducing the chargeable value to Band D.

Now the Council is encouraging other residents to apply for the funds and an email or text message will be sent to people where the Council has their contact details and a mailshot is being issued to all other qualifying residents, inviting them to apply.

* Applications can be made on the website: www.denbighshire.gov.uk/costofliving.

Councillor Gwyneth Ellis, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets, said: “The Council is administering this scheme on behalf of the Welsh Government and we have been working as quickly as possible to make these payments to our customers.

“Many people have already received payments, but we want to make sure that all those eligible for the payments submit their applications as quickly as possible.

“Payments will be made automatically to the majority of residents paying via direct debit, with the remainder of customers needing to complete a short form on the Council’s website.

“The cost of living continues to challenge all of us it is vitally important that our residents claim what is due to them and I would encourage people to apply for the support payment.”

Friday, June 24, 2022

Llangollen Round raises record £100,000 for cancer charity


* From left, Llangollen Round organisers Sandra Woodhall and Judy Smith, Nadine Isaacs of Cancer Research UK, and organiser Jason Morley. 

The fourth Llangollen Round Challenge, held last month, has raised a record £100,000 for a cancer charity.

And the often gruelling 35-mile run/walk through the beautiful yet tough terrain of the hills surrounding the town, which can be completed in either one or two days, saw another record set for the route being completed in the fastest time.

Volunteers and friends of the challenge who met for a post-event gathering at The Hand Hotel yesterday (Thursday) were given the full facts of the highly successful event by one of its long-time volunteers, Trevor Jeffries. 

He said that since being launched in 2012 by members of the Llangollen Ramblers group and based roughly on the Alpine Walk Tour of Mont Blanc, the amount raised for Cancer Research UK by the challenge had climbed from £33,000 to over £100,000 this year.


* Trevor Jeffries gives fellow volunteers a report on this year's Round Challenge.

The 2022 challenge, on the last weekend in May, had attracted over 600 entries from across the UK and abroad and seen 238 walkers or runners finishing it in a single day with another 189 completing it in two. 

A fresh record was set when the first person back at the event's Llangollen Leisure Centre base was certified to have covered the whole 35 miles in just seven hours.

The fastest woman completed it in just seven hours and 34 minutes. 

As usual, a small army of over 80 volunteers manned checkpoints along the route, where those taking part were served with water supplied free by local businesses and cakes presented by home bakers in the area.

More helpers were back at base checking in participants and handing out their times.   

Trevor Jeffries read out a series of messages organisers had received from participants describing in glowing terms their enjoyment of the event and the way it had been organised.

One said: "Thank you so much, organisers and volunteers, really great day out and all for a great cause - after the views and people and flapjack the highlight was a high five from the town crier!"

And another wrote: "What an amazing weekend. It's definitely not for the faint-hearted but with persistence and determination I managed to complete it, over two days mind you."

"Thank you so much for this year's event. My daughter and I loved the Saturday one-day round even though we both cried a lot at the end," said another.

There was special thanks - and a presentation - to the "dynamic trio" of Sandra Woodhall, Judy Smith and Jason Morley who organised the challenge.

And Nadine Isaacs, relationship manager (North Wales) at Cancer Research UK, said: "It's lovely to be here this evening to celebrate the huge success of the Llangollen Round Challenge.

"Forty years ago the cancer survival rate was one in four. Today it is two in four but Cancer Research UK's mission is to reduce this further to three in four.

"Without the support we receive from fundraisers such as you we could not continue with our research."  

Council promotes county's overnight stay businesses

With another busy staycation season expected, Denbighshire County Council is promoting the county’s businesses providing overnight stays and parking. 

A number of businesses have signed up to be included on the North East Wales tourism website and in printed brochures which are now available across the region. 

The work also supports the council’s #LoveLiveLocal campaign which encourages people to support our local businesses. 

Councillor Win Mullen James, Cabinet Lead Member for Local Development and Planning, said: “Denbighshire offers visitors a wide range of experiences with everything from stunning countryside and market towns to seaside resorts and centuries of rich heritage to explore. 

“There are a number of fantastic businesses in the county that offer overnight stays and facilities for motorhomes and campervans. We are encouraging those visiting to make use of these sites to enhance your stay in Denbighshire. 

“Visitors can plan their trips in the safe knowledge they can book a place and turn up to park in a location that is easy, on the route, and offers a warm welcome. 

“Last year we saw visitors flock to the area as restrictions were lifted and we developed Denbighshire’s Destination Management Plan in partnership with tourism businesses to coordinate activity to ensure a positive experience for visitors, residents and businesses. 

“Tourism contributes £552million a year to Denbighshire’s economy and we want people to come to Denbighshire this summer and return again year after year, so it is important we make the county safe and welcoming to visitors while giving residents confidence that they remain safe.” 

* You can find the list of site at https://www.northeastwales.wales/tourist-information/motorhome-parking-in-north-east-wales 

Businesses offering motorhome parking can be included in this list by contacting tourism@denbighshire.gov.uk

 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Indie rock stars help mark century of Llan festivals

* Elles Bailey. 


* Kizzy Crawford. 


* Amber Run.

Global indie rock sensations Amber Run and blues powerhouse Elles Bailey will be among the stars as North Wales gears up for one of its greatest ever festivals.

They will be taking to the famous pavilion stage for a “joyous, family-friendly jamboree” as the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod returns as a physical event for the first time since 2019.

Sunday, July 10, will see this years festival-within-a-festival, Llanfest, take on a format the like of which it has never attempted before.

The International Eisteddfod has partnered with Llangollen Fringe Festival as they mark a combined record of 100 years of producing standout festivals.

The Eisteddfod is celebrating its landmark 75th anniversary and the Fringe is marking 25 years in existence.

As well as Amber Run and Elles Bailey, there will be sets from Cardiff based music producer Minas, and Bajan-Welsh singer songwriter Kizzy Crawford who has been making waves on the international festival scene and on BBC radio.

In something of a happy coincidence Kizzy’s sister E├Ądyth - whose voice is also fast becoming familiar to radio listeners - will be performing on a different stage.

The Eisteddfod’s Executive Producer, Camilla King, said: “The buzz in the air is tangible as excitement builds for a different kind of experience. It’s going to be a fun and family-friendly, end-of-Eisteddfod celebration.

“Its been hugely rewarding to make this happen in what is a truly momentous year for both organisations. Theres no better way to honour two such significant anniversaries.”

Equally enthusiastic is Llangollen Fringe Festival programmer and Artistic Director Neal Thompson.

He said: “This day is definitely one not to be missed. Its long been talked about but never happened before, so theres a real vibe in the air, a huge sense of anticipation that something very special is about to happen here.

“Its amazing when you think about it that we’ve both reached such significant anniversaries in the same year. Thats a full century of music-making between us, which has made Llangollen one of the most lauded small towns in the world.”

Adding to the fervour of the occasion is an even wider sense of inclusivity in the programme from the Eisteddfod already known for its ethos of harmony and togetherness.

It runs from Thursday, July 7 to Sunday, July 10 and first up is the Schools Day and the Young Peacemaker Awards.

Over the four days there will be a host of new attractions and activities on the revamped outdoor site, including music, dance, talks, comedy, food, drink, shopping, workshops and pop-up entertainment.

In the evenings there will be concerts featuring the singing duo of Aled Jones and Russell Watson, and Anoushka Shankar, the British-Indian-American sitar player, producer, film composer and activist who is the daughter of renowned musician Ravi Shankar, and half-sister of singer Norah Jones.

The competitions climax on Saturday night with Choir of the World and the contest for the Pendine International Voice of the Future featuring the finest young singers from around the world on the stage where icons Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Elaine Paige, Michael Ball, Sir Bryn Terfel and Luciano Pavarotti have performed.

Camilla said: “We’ve got something for everyone including festival stalwarts, competition veterans, overseas visitors, young families, and the wider community. It’s important to me that we’re a truly inclusive event.”

With tickets already selling, she advises audiences to go online and book for what could be one of the most memorable days in the Eisteddfods history.

She added: Llanfest has always been that little bit more relaxed, with the competitions over and everyone just enjoying the buzz of meeting up on a Sunday and being in the fantastic Llangollen environment.

“At the same time there will be an opportunity to look forward, a sense of regeneration, of hope and optimism for the future, as the young and vibrant performers from the background of the Fringe inject their own unbridled enthusiasm into the occasion.”

According to Neal, the Llanfest itinerary encompasses some bands who have been firm favourites of the Fringe past as well as up and coming names of today’s vibrant Welsh and UK music scenes.

He said: “Undoubtedly a highlight will be big names like Amber Run and the fabulous Kizzy Crawford. But as ever we’ve also got a wealth of local talent from home grown bands.”

They include Baby Brave, a new wave-noise pop outfit from Wrexham who release their latest EP, Sunny Days in Dark Rooms, in July via Mai 68 Records.

North Wales four piece Alpha Chino will be there in advance of also releasing an EP, The Last Astronaut, in August.

Adding extra musical diversity will be 25-strong Chester Big Band who mix it up with funk, soul and pop, while Llareggub Brass Band brings a unique sound which invokes strains of New York Bronx-based hip hop with Welsh language pop.

Also on the programme are Wrexham duo Igloo Hearts, and Paperchase, a multi-generational band of session artists led by Andy Hickie.

Neal said Llanfest promises a thrilling overlap fusing the finale of the Eisteddfod with a foretaste of Llangollen Fringe 2022 which runs from July 22-30.

* For the full Fringe programme visit:  www.llangollenfringe.co.uk and for more on Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and its competitions and concerts as well as how to get to it and where to stay go to http://international-eisteddfod.co.uk/ or check out https://www.facebook.com/llangollen

Ladies of Llangollen give tour of their Plas Newydd home


Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler play the Ladies of Llangollen.

A new play about the lives of the famous Ladies of Llangollen will be performed at their famous home early next month.

In their fourth appearance at the historic venue Queer Tales for Wales are back by popular demand with a production of Round the Home Circuit: a tour of Plas Newydd grounds with the Ladies of Llangollen on Saturday and Sunday, July 2 and 3rd, at 4pm.

It is described as a "lively re-imagining" by Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler.

In 1780 Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby found a home for life at Plas Newydd. 

And visitors are invited to join them in an intimate tour round the grounds of the house which was their home for 50 years. 

The Ladies will be accompanied by their beloved housekeeper Mary Caryll. 

On the way they will share stories about their lives, their cows, famous guests, and how they survived scurrilous gossip.

Those coming along are advised to wear stout shoes and bring a brolly just in case.

Tickets are £18.50, to include the promenade performance, tea and cake with the Ladies at the Stable block tearooms and entry to Plas Newydd House including the Sarah-Joy Ford ‘Beloved’ exhibition, at any time on the day of booking.

* For tickets please email: plasnewydd@denbighshire.gov.uk

Latest Mazda CX-5 SUV has loads to offer



Mazda CX-5 drive by Steve Rogers

Get behind the wheel of Mazda’s big-selling SUV and you will either be content or disappointed.

Content because it is a traditional car with traditional three-dial driver’s binnacle and traditional easy to use heating controls. Then again you might be disappointed at not having a high-tech TV style wide screen dashboard display as seen in the ultra modern Kia Sportage featured a few weeks ago.

Oh, and something else, there is no hybrid option.

Don’t be too quick to write off the 2022 CX-5 as old hat because it still has loads to offer. Mazda has built its reputation on cars with a sporty bite and that is the case with CX-5, arguably the best handling SUV in its class and upgrades to the suspension have made it even better so it is comfortable and rewarding when you put your foot down.

It has also had some cosmetic treatment to the front, nothing too dramatic, just a few nips and tucks to keep things fresh.

So where do I sit on the dashboard layout? It is hardly classic car dials and switches, in fact it has a bang up to date 10.2in central screen for radio, navigation and such like, and even better, it is not a touchscreen. Mazda is sticking with the rotary controller between the seats which is the easiest system I have come across.... ever.

It is dated compared to the Sportage which, incidentally, I did like, but so much easier to use than the complex Volvo XC40 infotainment centre. Thank heavens for the Swede’s brilliant voice control technology which is better than the Mazda.

So many cars have a binnacle with full screen mapping and computer generated everything so it is comforting to be faced with standard, clear dials. There is all the information needed along with Mazda’s excellent head up display with speed, rudimentary navigation instructions and the surface speed limit.

Engine choice is 2-litre petrol, 2.2 litre diesel and the 2.5 litre petrol which I used for towing. In its class CX-5 has one of the best towing capacities now that key competitors like Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav-4 have gone hybrid.

I expected the powerful all wheel drive Mazda to guzzle gas like no tomorrow with a caravan on the back but no, it returned a creditable 24mpg matching the hybrid Kia Sportage. Granted, consumption takes a tumble against the hybrids driving solo, dipping to low thirties, although I surprised myself returning 41mpg on a 90 mile Sunday stroll.

As a family car CX-5 ticks most of the boxes with plenty of space, ample legroom front and back and a good sized boot with levers in the side walls to drop the 40-20-40 back seat configuration.

Mazda has been pushing to break into the premium market and in my book has made it. CX-5 is a good example with quality trim and fittings right through the car. It is well off for safety features and generally well equipped. At the top end GT Sport lacks for nothing with 360 degree camera heated and ventilated front seats and heated outer rear seats, navigation, Apple Carplay and Android auto connections among the highlights.

CX-5 with its high engine emissions will struggle against hybrid rivals on some running costs and, in particular, as a company car where tax breaks favour the hybrids. Yet there is still something appealing about the Mazda, a bit like pulling on your favourite pair of slippers, all very comforting.

There is nothing that can’t sort out CX-5 than a hybrid engine to match its rivals. Doubt that can happen without a total rebuild but there is a hybrid on the horizon. CX-60 plug in hybrid is due in the autumn but it is bigger and more expensive so, Mazda, more hybrids please.

What the wife said....

It was good to get into a car and not need a degree in computer studies to tune the radio or operate the heating. Towed the caravan a treat!

Fast facts

CX-5 GT Sport AWD

£37,905 (Range starts £29,245)

2.5 litre petrol 6sp auto 190bhp

0-62mph 9.3secs; 122mph

35.3mpg combined

182g/km. 1st tax £945

Boot: 522-1395 litres

Insurance group 26

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Eisteddfod flags go up on the bridge

 


No, not more roadworks on the bridge this morning (Wednesday) but a team of workmen putting up the traditional flags for the forthcoming Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. 




Llan author launches her new book on Trevor Hall's rich history


* Pam Williams-Hughes, centre, launches her book at the library last night.

Eight years of complex and meticulous research reached a fitting conclusion yesterday evening when a Llangollen author officially launched her book on the history of Trevor Hall and its most famous inhabitants at the town’s library.

The Phoenix Arises, by Pam Williams-Hughes, represents a significant treatise on the subject and is an important contribution to the understanding of a major aspect of the historical fabric of the Dee Valley. It also marks her out as an important and serious local chronicler of the area’s rich past.

The author won her battle against a brain tumour and severe dyslexia to gain a university degree at the age of 69 when she proudly collected a 2:1 BA Honours in History from Glyndwr University.

Originally from Birmingham, she moved to Llangollen in 2011 after spending her working life first in the Royal Air Force and then with local authorities.

She was diagnosed with a brain tumour before she started as a mature student on a fine art degree course at Glyndwr in 2007 and a brain scan revealed the devastating news that the tumour on her pituitary gland had tripled in size in just three months.

Pam had to undergo a life-saving operation which saw the tumour successfully removed.

Despite being told that the growth had not been malignant, her sight was affected.

None of this prevented her research on a range of historical matters, including Victorian crime and the history of Llangollen’s St Collen’s Church, subjects on which she has given a series of expert talks over the past decade.

Work on The Phoenix Arises, which runs to around 300 pages, involved tapping extensively into a huge number of sources, both ancient and more modern.

Published with the assistance of a grant from the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the A3-size book minutely details of the hall – first known by its Welsh title of Llys Awr – from 900AD until 2019.

Small compared to most Georgian mansions, it is sited in one of the most beautiful parts of the Dee Valley, or the Vale of Llangollen.

As Pam says in the book’s introduction: “ ... any visitor to the hall will have no idea of its amazing history, or the fantastic people who resided there. Nor will any casual glance of the house explain to the viewer how those who lived here long ago helped to change of the course of history and kings.”

And arguably none of these dwellers across the centuries has been as colourful as Bishop John Trevor who rose through the ranks of the then-Roman Catholic Church and the state to become Bishop of St Asaph and Chamberlain of Chester, Flint and North Wales and rub ermined shoulders with the likes of the Black Prince and Owain Glyndwr until falling spectacularly from favour with Richard II after throwing in his lot with that king’s usurper and eventual successor Henry IV. 

The author deals with a theory that the good bishop may even have been one of Richard’s eventual murderers, although she quickly dismisses this on the grounds that he was actually in Spain at the time.

The life and times of the first Bishop John and a later inhabitant of the hall, confusingly also known as Bishop John Trevor and who was almost equally at home with chief figures of the medieval period, are both painstakingly researched and presented by the author, who even describes the clothing they would wear and speculation surrounding their sex lives.

Much background is also presented about the characters who staffed the hall and its associated working estate at the time of the bishops, with vivid word portraits of figures such as the fish cook and cellarist. In line for similar treatment is the hall’s environment including the ferry which once crossed the Dee close to the estate.       

Pam moves the intriguing story on to tell of how the hall and its occupiers fared during subsequent landmark events in British history, like the Tudor period and the Civil War, before heading on into the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries when it developed connections with an industrialist involved with the ill-fated RMS Titanic and a famous creator of pop music.   

The Phoenix Arises is lavishly illustrated towards the end with studies of Trevor Hall, inside and out, along with its grounds during more recent centuries. There is also a series of pull-out charts covering topics such as family trees and timelines before we are presented with the hundreds of sources called upon by the author.

* More information on the book is available from Courtyard Books in Llangollen, call 01978 869394.

Latest Citizens Advice column

Here is the latest column from Denbighshire Citizens Advice:

Q: I’ve got loads of problems with my house that I’ve been putting off fixing - a faulty  boiler, a window that won’t shut properly, broken light fittings. The list goes on! I want to sort it out but I’ve had bad experiences with dodgy builders in the past. How do I  find someone I can trust? 

A: Making home improvements can be stressful, but there are a few steps you can follow to  help it go smoothly.  

First, find a Trading Standards ‘approved trader’. You can look for one in your area online or  use the Government’s approved trader scheme TrustMark.  

It’s also worth checking if they’re a current member of a trade body. Trade bodies have  codes of practice and can help resolve problems if things go wrong. Ask who they’re  registered with and then check the trade body’s website. 

For any gas and electric fixes, only use certified traders - it’s dangerous to use someone  who doesn’t know what they’re doing. You can check the Gas Safe Register for a list of  traders and use a registered electrician who can certify their own work. 

It’s always helpful to get references or recommendations where possible. Ask your friends,  family or neighbours if they know of anyone they’d recommend. You can also ask the person you hire for examples of work they’ve carried out in the past. Try to avoid contractors who  won’t give references - it’s a sign they could be dishonest. 

When you find someone, ask for a written quote - this is different to an estimate. A quote is  legally binding and the tradesperson can’t change it without a good reason - for example, if  you ask for extra work to be done. It’s worth comparing quotes from several contractors to  make sure you’re getting a fair price. 

Next, get a written contract. This should cover exactly what you’re paying for and everything  you’ve agreed on, including timings, payments, who will pay for materials and any  subcontractors if needed. When it comes to payment, it’s best to opt to pay in stages rather  than upfront. Try to pay by card if you can - this can give you extra safeguards if something  goes wrong.  

Finally, make sure your trader is fully insured. Keep copies of receipts and your written  contract. These will be important as evidence if things go wrong. It’s also helpful to take  photos of any problems if they arise.  

If you have a problem with a contractor and you’re not sure what to do, call the Citizens  Advice consumer helpline 0808 223 1133 or talk to an adviser online through the Citizens  Advice website.