Get in touch ...

Know of something happening in
us on

E-mail your contributions to:

We are on Facebook at

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Funding fair to be held at Town Hall on June 30

Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council (DVSC) in conjunction with Llangollen Town Council is holding a Funding Fair on Thursday June 30, from 11am – 2pm, at Llangollen Town Hall.

People are invited to come along and find out more about the different grants available in the local area and opportunities to discuss these grants with the funders. 

This event will be hosted as a hybrid event with some funders being there in person for you to chat with and other funders will be attending the session via 30 minute Zoom presentations in which you will be able to book on to imminently via our Eventbrite page. 

If you are an organisation or local community group who would like to promote your current or future grants at the event, please get in touch to book a space at: or phone 01824 702 441.

* For more information please contact DVSC on or call 01824 702441  

Monday, May 30, 2022

Eisteddfod launches award for youngsters who make a difference

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is calling on young people to enter its award scheme which celebrates young people who are making a real difference in their community and beyond.

The Young Peacemakers' Award is designed to recognise children and young people who have contributed to a greater understanding of peace, climate justice and equality in their school, youth group, local community or in the wider world. 

There are also creative categories and organisers are hoping that young people will be inspired to express their ideas about how the world can be a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable place post-COVID19 - through words, art or digital media.

The scheme is being organised by The Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA), Size of Wales and the Council for Wales Voluntary Youth Services (CWVYS) in partnership with the Eisteddfod.

The awards are open to all young people in Wales between the ages five and 25 and the competition is open for entries now. The closing date for applications is June 10.

There are seven categories that individuals or groups can enter including, Young Peace Activist of the year, Young Peace Artist of the Year, Young Climate Champion of the Year and Young international Peacemaker of the Year.

Details of how to enter can be found here:

The finalists will be announced at a Young Peacemakers Awards Ceremony at the Eisteddfod festival on Children's Day, July 7, where young people will receive a certificate and an award. 

Camilla King, executive producer of the Llangollen Eisteddfod said: "We encourage children and young people (between 5 & 25 years old) to get creative and send us their entries - creative and critical writing, artwork, performance, film, presentations on action for change. 

"Don't miss the opportunity to be part of these exciting and prestigious Awards.  Entries can include work and projects already completed at home, in the classroom, youth groups or Sunday schools - as long as young people are happy for this to happen."

This year (7-10 July 2022), after a two year hiatus the festival opens with two of the classical world's vocal powerhouses, Aled Jones and Russell Watson performing together.  In a line-up that celebrates the best traditional and contemporary music from around the world, 2022 highlights include Grammy Award winner Anoushka Shankar with Manu Delago and the Britten Sinfonia whilst on Sunday 10th, the ever popular Llanfest will feature British indie three-piece, Amber Run, UK Blues Artist of the Year Elles Bailey and Welsh/Bajan singer Kizzy Crawford.

* For more information about the festival and to buy tickets please visit 

Latest column from Citizens Advice

Latest column from Denbighshire Citizens Advice is: 

Q: I recently applied for a job at a local pub which offered National Minimum Wage. I did a short interview and at the end the manager asked me for some documents and also how old I was. After telling her I was 25 she told me she would be in touch, but it would be unlikely I’d get the job because they wouldn’t be able to afford to pay me the required wage. She said she would prefer to hire someone younger. Is this legal?

A: Nobody should be asking you how old you are in a job interview. Being 25, you’re entitled to the National Living Wage. On the Citizens Advice website there are full details of the wages people are entitled to by law. But these rules shouldn’t mean employers avoid hiring people because of how old they are. That’s known as ‘direct age discrimination’ in the Equality Act 2010. You’re also protected by the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, which says employers can’t not hire you (and they can’t fire you) because your age means you’re entitled to a higher rate. 

We have a lot of information on our website about what to do if you’re being treated unfairly when applying for a job. If you’ve been discriminated against, there are steps you can take to either get compensation or convince the person to give you a job. 

Make a note of what happened as soon as you can - noting down exactly what you were asked and any other remarks the interviewer made. This will be useful as evidence later. 

Next, you should write a letter of complaint to the employer. Keep a copy of this letter for your own records. There’s advice on the Citizens Advice website on what this letter should include and you can also speak to an adviser at your local Citizens Advice to get help writing it. 

If the letter doesn’t get an outcome you’re happy with, you could take the employer to an employment tribunal. You’ll need as much evidence of discrimination as possible. Evidence should include the job advert, the job description, your notes about what was said at the interview and any contact you’ve had with the employer since - like your complaint letter. 

Remember that you only have three months minus one day from the date that the ‘discriminatory act’ (in this case, the comments in your interview) happened to start tribunal proceedings. You do this by contacting the government organisation Acas and telling them that you intend to bring a claim. 

* Nobody should have to worry about being discriminated against when job hunting. For more advice on your rights when searching for work, visit or call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Test train makes first run into new Corwen station

* The Class 47 diesel locomotive shortly after arrival at Corwen station. Picture by Iain Ross.

Llangollen Railway has announced that a test train successfully ran to the new Corwen Central station last night (Saturday) to gauge clearances to platforms and other structures following completion of track work. 

The train consisted of a rake of empty passenger coaches, running with special permission under an engineering possession. 

It was hauled by historic Class 47 diesel locomotive No 1566, which has been at work in North Wales for over 40 years. 

The train was crewed by expert volunteers Mark Smales, Iain Ross and Mike Williams, who between them have given over 70 years of voluntary service at Llangollen. 

Richard Dixon-Gough, Corwen Station Project Manager, said: “Seeing the test passenger train arrive at Corwen was a real delight for our dedicated team of volunteers, who have worked tirelessly to build our new station from scratch, all largely funded by donations from supporters, well-wishers and grant aid from the Welsh Government. 

"It was a perfect late-spring evening and the train looked superb in our new station under a clear blue sky. We’ve got a bit more work to do before we can run public trains. 

"We’ve the station building and canopy to complete and then the whole project will require final sign off from the Office of Road and Rail. But we’re getting close and this test train took us a step closer.

"Corwen station will be open to the public over the Jubilee weekend to see what we’ve been up to and one of our works trains will also be on static display for people to take a look at."

Tom Taylor, LR Trust Manager, said: “What a way to kick off a week where we will see the Platinum Jubilee celebrations and Volunteers’ Week begin. 

"Our new station at Corwen is looking superb and this successful test train demonstrates the power of volunteering. Our railway is a vital part of the local economy and our volunteers also help sustain local employment, both on our railway and in the wider tourist industry. 

"We can’t wait to return services to Corwen and offer our passengers the full 10 mile ride through the Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty again. Running between these two bustling riverside towns will help us take the Llangollen Railway forward into the future."

Corwen resident Owen Reynolds- Rees, whose house looks over the new station, said: “I was sat in my living room, looked up and was amazed to see the train pootling gently into Corwen Station, so dashed upstairs to get some photos. It was a lovely thing to see, especially on such a beautiful evening.”

Steam and diesel trains will also offer a range of services between Llangollen and Carrog over the Jubilee Weekend between June 3 and 5, with stations specially decorated. Visit for more details and tickets.

Town council plans special events for Jubilee weekend

Special events next weekend to mark the Queen's platinum jubilee have have been organised on behalf of Llangollen Town Council by ex-councillors and council staff.  

Saturday June 4 will see a street market being staged in Market Street from about 10.30am. 

Organisers say this will be an opportunity for local community groups, charities, crafters and producers to market themselves and sell their products. 

They add: "We are hoping to create a buzz and an exciting market atmosphere. 

"On Market Street, during the afternoon, there will also be some entertainment with Llangollen Silver Band and Chris Burton performing. We’ve also got a Punch and Judy show."

During Saturday afternoon a stage will be set up in Centenary Square to present a programme of live entertainment, which includes: 

* 12noon - Alfie Thomas

* 1.15pm - Leonie-Anne Kirkby

* 2.30pm - Shea Ferron

* 3.45 - Melodic Mondays 

On Sunday June 5 the Town Council is hosting a Queen's Jubilee Vintage Tea Party and Dance from 2-6pm in the Town Hall.

This is billed as an afternoon of 1950s vintage film and dancing with three local dance teachers. Tea is served at 3.30pm and entry to the event is free. 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Glyndyfrdwy station volunteers hit their jubilee purple patch

* The parcels van in all its purple glory.

Glyndyfrdwy Railway Station on the Llangollen Railway has been given a striking and colourful new look as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Station Master Paul Bailey and his team have been busy with their paintbrushes to adorn part of the station in royal purple colours. 

An ex-Southern Railway parcels van, lamp post, milk churn, sack barrow, porters trolley and plant pots have all received the royal treatment. 

* The porters trolley ablaze with royal colour.

The milk churn even carries the regal signature of “ER”.

Paul said: “We were inspired by our friends at the Severn Valley Railway, who have painted one of their locomotives in Royal purple for the Jubilee.

* The painted milk churn.

"Our small team of dedicated volunteers have had a lot of fun getting the paint out at Glyndyfrdwy and we hope our visitors will enjoy looking out for all the purple bits and pieces around the station over the bank holiday weekend, where we are running a busy schedule of steam and diesel trains."

Her Majesty and Prince Phillip visited Llangollen on the Royal Train in July 1953, when the line was still part of the national network and ran between Ruabon and Barmouth. 

It closed in 1964 as a result of the infamous Beeching cuts, but was reopened in stages by volunteers from the 1970’s onwards. 

The long-awaited final piece of the Llangollen Railway jigsaw is also about to be completed, with a new station at Corwen set to open soon.

Ian Bibby, Volunteer Liaison Officer for the Railway, said: “As well as the Jubilee, June 1st to 7th is Volunteers’ Week. Our wonderfully atmospheric stations have all been restored and cared for by volunteers. 

* The artistic Glyndyfrdwy station volunteers.

A railway spokesperson said: "Paul and his team at Glyndyfrdwy have done a fantastic job of making the station look even better than usual with their Jubilee display. 

"Getting stuck in, having fun and then having a stunning achievement like this to stand back and admire is very much what volunteering is all about at the Llangollen Railway. 

"As part of Volunteers’ Week, we are keen to encourage new volunteers to consider joining us. You don’t need to be qualified or experienced in anything beyond having a bit of spare time to give us and some enthusiasm to try something different. 

"We provide full training for all roles. Anyone interested in getting involved can make-contact with us via our website or telephone."

Meanwhile, Llangollen, Berwyn, Carrog and Corwen stations are also joining in with the celebrations. Llangollen will host a fascinating display of Queen Victoria’s Royal Train memorabilia. 

Superbly restored Carrog and Berwyn will be showing visitors what the line was like in its GWR heyday, with tea rooms serving delicious cakes and ice cream. Finally the partially complete station at Corwen will be open for visitors to have a look at work-in-progress.

Steam engine No 5619, visiting from the Telford Steam Railway, will run on all three days of the Jubilee weekend.

Also back by popular demand will be 1956-built Class 08 diesel-electric Shunter No 13625, offering the chance for visitors to try their hand at being a train driverfor just £5 a go.

The shunter will also be working a shuttle service between Llangollen and Berwyn Stations, which will run in-between the three daily steam trains that run between Llangollen and Carrog.

All main works on 2020 project complete, says council

* An artist's impression of how the finished project would look.

In its latest update Denbighshire County Council says that all main works on the town's 2020 project are complete but adds that efforts to clear the compound on the Market Street car park will carry on for the rest of the week.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Historic diesel engine in action on railway this weekend

* Number 47449 pictured by Kevin Lane in June 1979 making her way alongside the cars of the day on the A547 towards Llandudno Junction with Conwy Castle in the background. 

* The Class 47 in Llangollen River Sidings waiting to work the day’s trains back in May 2019.

A historic diesel engine saved from the scrapyard by enthusiast Pete Waterman will be in action at Llangollen railway this weekend.

The Class 47 loco, also known as a Brush Type 4, was a regular performer on the North Wales Coast line and spent a good proportion of her working life at Crewe Diesel Depot between 1973 and 1990, just a mile or so from where she emerged brand new from Crewe Works in March 1964. 

Moving South to London in 1990, 47449 ended her 29-year career with British Rail working the semi-fast passenger trains between London Paddington and Oxford before being withdrawn in March 1993. 

After being saved from scrapping by the renowned music impresario and railway enthusiast Pete Waterman, 47449 was purchased by the Llangollen Diesel Group in 1996 for use on the Llangollen Railway, where she has been ever since.

Number 47449 has now been preserved at Llangollen for nearly as long as she spent working for British Rail.

With the exception of a few years out of traffic for repairs to her bodywork, engine and cooling system, the loco, currently running with her early 1970’s era number of 1566, has been a very useful and active member of the Llangollen Railway fleet.

She is powered by an 83 litre, 2580hp 12 cylinder twin bank Sulzer LDA28C engine. 

Sulzer are a Swiss Engineering business, but the engines for the 47s were all built in England under licence by Vickers at Barrow in Furness using a factory built in the early 1950s to produce submarine engines in large quantities in anticipation of an escalation of the war in Korea, which was never required. 

The diesel engine drives a Brush TG160-60 Direct Current generator which in-turn drives six traction motors, one for each wheelset.

The Class 47 will be working on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Castle Street to be closed Friday evening

Llangollen county councillor Karen Edwards has received information that Castle Street will be closed once more between 6pm and midnight on the evening of Friday May 27 to complete the lining works.

Plan to turn former B&B into healthcare workers bedsit

* The Denbighshire Free Press story.

Denbighshire Free Press is reporting that plans are under way to turn a Llangollen bed and breakfast into a bedsit for healthcare workers.

A story says that Nadarajah Pragash has applied to Denbighshire County Council’s planning department for permission to change the former Four Poster Bed and Breakfast premises on Mill Street into a house of multiple occupation.

* For the full story, see:

Llangollen couple back national skin cancer campaign #KnowYourSkin

* Jen Rush (far right) joined others to raise awareness and promote the #KnowYourSkin campaign to MPs.

A Llangollen couple are contributing to a national campaign this Melanoma Awareness Month to encourage everyone to stay safe in the sun and look out for signs of potential skin cancer.

James Rush, a former tree surgeon and retained firefighter at Llangollen Fire Station, was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma skin cancer in 2020, a week before the UK’s first lockdown. 

Sharing his story with Llanblogger, he said: "Receiving this diagnosis within a few weeks of welcoming our daughter, and while the world was dealing with COVID made it a very difficult time. 

"I had previously had a melanoma surgically removed, but it was considered stage 0 and I was given the all-clear. 

"Five years later I developed a cough, the result of metastatic melanoma that had spread to my lymph nodes, liver and bowel.”

James underwent major surgery and has just completed two years of monthly immunotherapy treatment. 

He was initially treated at Glan Clwyd, but transferred to the Christie in Manchester after surgery, where there is a large specialist melanoma department.

James added: “Depending how my recent and future scans go will determine whether I need more doses. It would be nice to think I didn’t, but obviously it’s unpredictable.  

"I am grateful to Dr Cooper and the team at Llangollen Health Centre – he made what was probably an overly-cautious initial referral that has been life-saving.”

* Llangollen Fire Station crew raised money for Melanoma Focus in 2021
to support their colleague James (far right).

James and his wife, Jen, who has just been elected as Llangollen's Deputy Mayor after winning a town council seat earlier this month, work with the charity Melanoma Focus through her local digital marketing agency. 

James has designed the #KnowYourSkin campaign posters, which are appearing in service stations and offices throughout the UK this month.

* The poster is one of four designs appearing throughout the UK.

This week, Jen attended a parliamentary event to raise awareness of the charity’s #KnowYourSkin campaign, together with clinicians, patients and the Patron of Melanoma Focus, Chris Bryant MP.

The family would like to share Melanoma Focus’ message this melanoma awareness month – wear SPF 30+ and visit your GP if you’re concerned about a mole or lesion. 

Jen told Llanblogger: “86% of melanoma cases can be avoided by protecting your skin from the sun and, if diagnosed early, melanoma is usually very easy to treat with minor surgery. 

"I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what our family have in the last couple of years – please avoid sun beds and protect your skin when enjoying the (hopefully!) good weather this summer. 

"If you’re worried about a mole or spot anything changing on your skin, don’t put of visiting your GP – early diagnosis saves countless lives.”

* You can find out more information about melanoma and sun safety on the Melanoma Focus website.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

llanblogger's 'ghost dog' story appears in New York Post

* The story in the New York Post. Marc Mountford and Katie Morran feature with Cooper the mastiff.

A story which started off in llanblogger has just hit the pages of the New York Post.

Earlier this month we reported on a string of local Facebook messages about a dog which refused to walk past the former Gwyn Davies butchers shop in Castle.

And theories abounded that the pooch may have shied away because the empty shop was haunted.

The story was first picked up by a regional newspaper and has now made its way across the Atlantic to the Post in New York.

The story says: "A couple and their 168-pound Mastiff, Cooper, had a real-life Scooby-Doo moment in Wales while traveling in their camper that they appropriately named their “Mystery Machine.”

According to Daily Post UK, Marc Mountford and Katie Morran said their furry friend “went mental” when he passed a former butcher shop in Llangollen, Wales, that is said to be haunted.

“As soon as he reached the shop, he went wild,” Mountford said. “He was uncontrollable — I was so close to going under a coach [bus].”

Luckily, several people were around and helped the couple control Cooper.

“We had to get him across the road to calm down. But he was still shaking,” Mountford added. “He wasn’t making a noise but his tail was between his legs and he was clearly in distress.”

This isn’t the first time the pup’s been spooked by the shop, either. The family has taken the Mystery Machine to Llangollen four times, and said Cooper’s spooked reaction is always the same.

“When he was younger he was easier to control, but now he’s fully grown it’s different,” Mountford said. “This was the first time he’s dragged me into the street. When a 12-stone Mastiff starts pulling, it’s almost impossible to stop them.”

“This behavior is totally out of character,” he continued. “He’s a lovely dog and we’ve been past plenty of other butchers’ shops with no problems — especially if we pop in for a bone! But there’s something about this particular place.”

The now-vacant shop belonged to Gwyn Davies until he retired last year. Some Facebook users wondered whether Cooper could smell the old slaughterhouse in the back of the building.

Old photos of the town show carcasses hanging up in front of the shop.

“Row upon row of sheep, cows and chickens, before Gwyn had it,” said one Facebook commenter, the Daily Post reported.

Another added, “[The] smell of blood, maybe it lingers?” While a third comment read: “[Cooper] feels like he is walking past a graveyard with all the dead meat in there.”

The theories continued as an alleged former employee of the butcher shop chimed in, saying the cellar and an upstairs apartment were both haunted.

One of the people that helped the couple calm Cooper was a town historian. The couple happened to meet her in a neighboring town after the encounter, and she told them she’d find a history book with the ghost story recorded — which she did.

According to “Tales of Llangollen: Past and Present” by Trevor Roberts, the shop’s then-butcher swore he saw the owner of a nearby fishing tackle shop outside while on his way to work.

Once inside, he was informed the angler had died the day before, but the butcher always stood by his sighting."   

* The story has also appeared in the Mirror in the UK.

Downhill mountain bike action returns this weekend

British Cycling's National Downhill Mountain Bike Series Round 3, presented by GT Bicycles, takes place in Llangollen this Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29.

Venue for the action is One Giant Leap at Tan Y Graig Farm, LL20 8AR. 

The newly revised Squirrel Track will be used. 

It's super steep and technical as it winds itself down the famous Llangollen hillside with a number of recently added features and wider line choices to keep the riders on their toes.

The tried and trusted BDS Team are back organising their first National race since 2017 and say they have been working around the clock to deliver this event to bring back the good old days.

Organisers say spectators are welcome and there is free parking plus free admission to anyone aged 12 and under. For those aged 13 or over the charge is £5 per day to spectate.

09:30 to 18:00 Practice

08:30 to 10:45 Practice
11:00 to 14:00 Seeding Runs
14:00 to 17:00 Race Runs

County council elects new leader and deputy

* Leader - Cllr Jason McLellan.

Denbighshire County Council has elected a new Leader and Deputy for the authority. 

Jason McLellan (Labour – Prestatyn North) is the new leader and a co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru has been negotiated to form a ruling partnership. 

A former Prestatyn High School pupil,  Cllr McLellan has lived in Prestatyn most of his life.  

He qualified in Law from the University of Liverpool before working as a legal aid lawyer across North Wales for many years. He then worked for a Member of Parliament and two Members of the Senedd and is a former Denbighshire councillor, having served one term. 

He said: "I believe that Labour and Plaid Cymru have a mandate from the electorate to form a cabinet and deliver for the people of Denbighshire. 

"I am looking forward to working with Plaid and we have so much in common in terms of policies around economic regeneration, addressing housing issues and promoting the Welsh language and culture."

* Deputy Leader - Cllr Gill German.

Meanwhile, Cllr Gill German (Labour- Prestatyn North) has been elected Deputy Leader.

Councillor German is also from Prestatyn and a former pupil in the town. 

She has worked as a primary school teacher for over 25 years, with the majority of those years spent at Ysgol Penmorfa.

She says one of her biggest wishes is to work on creating greater equality in education.

MP meets people now living locally after fleeing Ukrainian conflict

* Back row from left, Volodymr, Lidiia, Sarah, Simon Baynes MP, Kim, Nataliia, Tetiana. Front row,  Andrii, Anastasiia, Kateryna and Maryna at the home of Sarah O’Brien near Trevor.

Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes recently met Maryna Ustymenko who is now living in Llangollen after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He also met the Paliura family, whom his office helped bring over to Wales and are now staying in Trevor. 

Mr Baynes spoke with Maryna, who speaks fluent English having been a teacher back in Ukraine, and also her sponsor Kim Evans from Llangollen.

The MP also met the Paliura family, which includes Volodymr and Lidiia Paliura (grandparents), Nataliia and Anastasiia Minaieva (mother and daughter), Tetiana Paliura (daughter) and her two children, Andrii and Kateryna Maliuk.

They have been welcomed into the home of their sponsor Sarah O’Brien near Trevor.

During the visit they discussed the ongoing issues experienced by Ukrainian refugees with their visa applications, and the welcome and support they have received from the community in Clwyd South. 

Kim Evans and Sarah O’Brien said: “This is a very rewarding experience and we both feel we have gained life long friends and extra family members.”

Mr Baynes said: “As the local MP I was very grateful to have the opportunity to meet our new Ukrainian friends and to welcome them to our community in Clwyd South.

"I was delighted to hear that since arriving they have been made to feel very welcome. 

"I also want to thank Sarah O’Brien and Kim Evans and their families for welcoming the Paliura family and Maryna Ustymenko into their homes and for the kindness they have shown them since fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. 

"My office has been very pleased to help them and other families come to Clwyd South and is always available to help others from Ukraine in the same way in the future.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Health Centre Friends back in action after pandemic


The Friends of Llangollen Health Centre, like so many other organisations, has been affected by the pandemic.  

One of its projects has been to contribute to the cost of installing defibrillators.  

The latest one is now outside the Conquering Hero in Rhewl.

The official hand-over (pictured above) was attended by Maggie Smith, Chair of Llantysilio Community Council, the Clerk to the Council Sandra Baker, and Audrey Brameller, a member of the Board of Trustees.

The Trust was also pleased to receive a generous donation from the Friends of Oakleigh represented by Ruth Tamms to the Friends' John Palmer (pictured above).

The Friends is a charity whose objectives are to relieve sickness and to preserve and protect good health amongst permanent or temporary residents in the catchment area of Llangollen Health Centre and Llangollen GP practice, including Glyn Ceiriog & Plas Madoc,by the provision of facilities, support services and equipment not normally provided from statutory funds.

With the support of volunteers, the Friends normally staff the cafĂ© in the surgery, but this is currently on hold until things get back to normal. Fundraising activities have also been on hold.  

However, the Friends will be resuming fundraising with a coffee morning in the Memorial Hall on Market Street on Tuesday May 31 and would like t see as many people as possible coming along to show support.

* If you have any ideas on how we can support patients, please email John Palmer

Fifth generation Kia Sportage is giant leap

Kia Sportage drive by Steve Rogers

There are not many car companies that can boast an SUV as their best seller in every corner of the world so turn the spotlight on the Kia Sportage.

I remember the UK launch in 1995 taking the car off road at the top of the Horseshoe Pass. Then it was nothing more than a capable, but only average utility 4x4 helping the fledgling Korean company break into the UK market.

It took 15 years and some inspirational design for us to sit up and take notice of the third generation Sportage, now an attractive all round family car which sold and sold and sold.

If 2010 was a big step forward then this year’s 5th generation Sportage is a giant leap. Not only has it undergone a radical redesign but there is cutting edge technology and hybrid power preparing the ground for what is ahead at the end of the decade.

Turning heads with stand out design is one thing but you have to do the business under the skin as well. So Kia started from scratch with a new platform, longer, taller and wider body, and plug-in or self-charging hybrid engine to compliment petrol and diesel units - yes there is still a diesel on offer.

There is even an all wheel drive with terrain drive mode, not that I think Sportage is going to spend much time off road although it will come in handy towing a caravan from a muddy field.

Sportage feels more grown up with its bigger body. Interior space has increased with ample leg and shoulder room for three adults in the back seats, which also recline, and a larger boot now boasting 587 litres with the back seats in place. The boot has two levels with small storage spaces under the floor because the spare wheel is replaced by a repair kit which, thankfully, I have not had to use so far in my motoring life.

For all its snazzy body styling, the cabin takes the star prize with its stunning dashboard  layout and general improvement in fittings and trim.

The area is dominated by a shiny black structure similar to a wide screen television housing two 12.2 inch screens. Dials ahead of the driver are computer generated and can be altered to display a variety of information. One novelty is a large camera in each of the main dials activated when indicating left or right, a modern take on a door mirror.

The driver’s eye still goes to the door mirror and the camera is impaired when it rains and in the dark but is another bit of new technology.

The centre touchscreen displays radio, various aps and navigation which was surprising slow to find a destination but easy to use.

Kia is well known for its generous level of kit, it was one of the first mainstream marques to have heated rear seats, an nothing has changed. My top of he range GT-Line S wants for nothing, ventilated front seats and 360 degree camera standout features, and the attention to small details in the cabin is admirable, check out the USB ports built into the shoulder of the front seats.

Of course there is a full suite of safety aids to keep you out of trouble.

Hybrid has added a new dimension to Sportage, a bit later than some rivals, and provides sprightly performance with decent economy. With the help of an electric motor the 1.6 litre petrol pumps out an impressive 226bhp so sixty comes up in an impressive eight seconds.

Driven sensibly the self charging hybrid should be good for 45-47mpg.

Which brings us on to towing and can it take the place of a diesel? Engine power is more than adequate and pulled effortlessly through the seven speed automatic box but around 24mpg was a good way off the 30mpg I get from my diesel Renault Kadjar but with the inflated price of diesel the gap has shrunk enough to make hybrid a viable alternative.

The downside is a modest 1650kg towing capacity. My lightweight four berth was only just inside the limit so many heavier family vans will not be a legal match.

There is plenty of high profile competition but this Sportage is a fine package and has to be on your shopping list.

Fast Facts

Sportage GT-Line S

£40,255 (starts £26,745)

1.6 litre petrol; 226bhp

0-60mph 8secs; 120mpg

44.1mpg combined

146g/km. 1st tax £215

Boot 587-1776 litres

Insurance group 26

Towing capacity 1650kg

Royal train artefacts go on show at railway over jubilee weekend

* Royal train artefacts which will be on show at Llangollen Railway.

A special display showcasing historic artefacts from Queen Victoria's Royal Train will be on display within Llangollen Station over the four-day Platinum Jubilee weekend. 

In 1897, the Great Western Railway marked the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria by constructing a new royal train for her. 

Railway companies had provided special saloon carriages, but this was the first royal train to be built and was fitted out in an opulent style.  

The GWR abandoned its royal carriages of 1897 during the 1930s and subsequently borrowed stock from another railway company when the need arose. 

Some of the carriage survived as grounded bodies, holiday chalets and in one case as a skittle alley in North Devon!

Many of the artefacts from inside the 1897 Royal Train vehicles have been lost over the years, but some items have survived and are now in the personal collection of Peter Dickinson, one of the founding members of the railway's Heritage Group.

The temporary display inside Llangollen Station will include carriage prints, glass panels and even some of the surviving door handles that were once inside Queen Victoria's Royal Train. 

The railway has a full programme of other events planned for the jubilee weekend.

Two new free courses at Pengwern Community Hub

Pengwern Community Hub has two new free courses starting in June.  

Organisers say places are limited and booking is essential by calling 01490 266004 or emailing:

Both courses are suitable for beginners.  

Sewing machines and an overlocker can be provided for the sewing course, or people can bring their own along.  

The craft course takes place on the hub's Thursday Craft and Chat session and the first one is a taster session - so you can help decide what you would like to make - and then runs for the following five weeks.   

Materials will be supplied for the craft course.

The organisers add: "If you have service users, family or friends who would like to come along to either or both of these courses please do not hesitate to get in touch and if you can print to display the poster please do so."

Pengwern Community Hub's June diary