Today we got up very early.
Sorry, I got up very early and FW fell asleep again and woke up later than required. You see we had to leave the house early as we had to go to Stanmore to collect my Anniversary present. We also wanted to get home so that FW could do some work on the Plot.
The Jewish guy stood beside the road in Harrow with a fluorescent yellow jacket and walkie-talkie. There was no visible reason for this. We decided he was a Torah Man, keeping a watch out for sabbath-breakers.
The woman we bought my present from actually lives in Cardiff but was clearing out her father’s house. So we had a 310 mile round trip 🙂 Ah well, we enjoyed it.
Tomorrow is the Beer Festival at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway. For those who are not aware, the railway recently extended the line by 1 1/4 miles to the old Blaenavon High Level Station, which is being rebuilt. The line last had a passenger service in 1941.
The plans are to build a branch line to connect with The Big Pit. Then it will be extended up the valley to Waunavon and down the valley to Talywain.
Blaenavon is one of the sites that mark the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and is a World Heritage Site. This is a bleak and rough area that would probably have remained as open moorland, if the iron ore and coal had not been found in the area. Since Big Pit closed in 1980 Blaenavon has become one of those depressed mining communities whose best days are behind it.
Attempts were made to rebrand Blaenavon as a Book Town, similar to Hay on Wye, but this died a death as very few people came. One problem is that the attractions are outside the town centre itself and people tend to visit Big Pit or the railway but not the town. As such businesses that are there struggle to survive.
Torfaen Council are heavily involved in regenerating the town but I have no idea what this means as you see no concrete results. What they did do was close the local leisure centre and tell residents to travel 6 mile down the valley to Pontypool if they wanted to swim.
Blaenavon was also the setting for Rape of the Fair Country by Alexander Cordell. A story of the Industrial Revolution and part of a trilogy with The Hosts of Rebecca and Song of The Earth that followed a family through the upheaval that followed.
For those who believe that such exploitation is gone should know that Glamorgan Power want to create an Open Cast Mine just down the valley in Varteg. This has created strong local opposition. One reason being that it would be under 500 metres from a local school and houses, this is the legal minimum allowed for such a develpoment.
Local opposition has gained a partial victory but it looks like the company will come back. It doesn’t seem to matter that the road network is not capable of handling the number of trucks that they envisage using and no one is talking of improving them.