Bulletin 384

August-September, 2014

Elan Dam Visit Sunday 22nd June

The day could not have been better when 16 Society members set of with our two Rangers on a day of exploration, discovery and excitement. For those who may have not been to the Elan Dam Visitor centre it is a place of various interests and none more so than on the day we had our visit. There was everything from Astronomy to RSPB bird watching and Photographic groups. The whole place was “buzzing” with young and old and a very happy place to be . We set off with Alan & Janice and followed the footpath that the original workers on the dam would have taken on their way to work. Alan set a scene of hardship and fatal accidents but also a community that thrived within the Elan Village They had a school, hospital, shop even their own constabulary all in wooden buildings now replaced with stone structures. The Temperance Movement tried to save the men from the “demon drink” but a farmer got a liquor licence across the river, at what is now the Elan Valley Hotel and the men built a bridge to get there and back, but did not always make it back home. The hedges became a familiar bed for many with some dying from exposure in the winter months. Life was hard, but at least they were earning. Word spread about the village and workers came from afar, thus creating a colourful mixed cultural environment.

The Birmingham Water Co employed several Engineers over the years but the most famous was Mr Ticknell who engineered the Pen-y-garreg Dam which we toured behind after our lunch break. This was a spectacular look behind a dam, for many of us it was for the first time. Awesome is the only word I can think of to describe the feeling as we went deep down to the bottom of the Dam and its workings, the very thought of all that water behind a brick wall was just mind blowing. The sound of the water was not as loud as I had imagined but the views form the centre tower when we came back up for air was amazing. They had held their first Wedding ceremony in this area on the Saturday with a 60-strong male voice choir serenading them. Certainly different, the bride had arrived by tandem with her father on the footpath the engineers would have taken from the Manor house where they were lodged. We were very grateful for Alan & Janice`s knowledge on all aspects of the Dam and the wonderful wildlife around us. They even laid on a ‘Titanic’ experience! We temporarily got locked in and the barred gate was our only exit then the water started to flood in it was tense but we all kept our head above water. When we arrived back on top the water was cascading over the Dam and was a true spectacle to see. The drive back to the centre was too short as it meant we had to part company from this delightful couple of Rangers who had guided us safely through a past, forgotten time and amazing world of engineering on a vast scale. After a huge thank you from us all we finally had to say Goodbye but I am sure many will return.

Behind the Scenes at Hereford Museum Resource & learning centre Thursday 24th July

This tour has to go down as probably one of the most varied and interesting ones. The staff at the centre had gone out of their way to target our visit with as many connections as they could to Kington. We just ran out of time, each member saw as much as they possibly could and over tea at the end we all shared our experiences and we all saw something different. It was a fabulous visit and one we shall have to repeat. Apart from the restored Kington Tram cart there were objects from the old laundry in Kington, parts of the tramway track, several favour tokens with documentation to support the use of them and what was bought with them, a silver snuff box from the Vaughan family and so much more you had to be there to appreciate it all. The centre holds a huge Fine Art collection and again the staff had pulled out paintings etc. that were relevant to our area. They kept apologising that there were only 77 items that had a connection to Kington, but we could not have seen all 77 in the 2 hours we spent there. Amazing place and so comforting that all these artefacts are so well looked after and with such passion. I think all 12 members who attended will probably be going back for a personal journey and we encourage anyone else to do the same. In this day and age of technology it was so rewarding to see that out past is still intact. Our thanks to the centre and all the staff and volunteers who hold our County’s past in their hands.

Reviews by Nancy Wheatland

Message from Chris Pullin

Hereford Cathedral is fortunate to possess some ancient treasures of international significance, of which the Mappa Mundi and Chained Library are two. Canon Chris Pullin, who has responsibility for overseeing their care on behalf of the Cathedral Chapter, will speak about them both, drawing out their history and significance for us. These treasures may come to us from the past, but they can still surprise us in the present; those who created them were among the most educated and sophisticated Europeans of their day, and Hereford was at the cutting edge of scientific knowledge in the years before the creation of the Mappa Mundi.

Dates for your Diary

Friday 19th September   Rev. Canon Chris Pullin.   Mappa Mundi and the Chained Library. Followed by a visit on October 4th.   (See notes above).

Friday 17th October   AGM followed by two talks by Society members.


Editor:   Vera Harrison