As many of you know, the Library/Institute is routinely used as a polling station and is due to be so again this May 6th. This time, however, we will be using this main library room, so that a one-way system can be employed and social distancing applied, in line with Covid restriction requirements. Whilst libraries are now permitted to open, we have chosen to leave it closed until after the election. This way, the room can be cleaned and prepared and kept as virus-free as possible ready for voting. Apologies to all those waiting to borrow books. Lesley Williams Library Co-ordinator
Montgomery Energy Group (MEG) has been gifted some raised beds and a pear tree for the Community Orchard, which are now in place, ready for soil and planting. The raised beds were generously donated to the orchard by Gwyneth Depport who is moving away from Montgomery to be closer to her grandchildren, and wanted the raised beds, which her late husband Alan had made for her, to become part of the Community Orchard. She has also given the orchard a Snowdon Queen pear tree, now christened Gwyneth, and some rhubarb. All of these are a perfect addition to the orchard, which lies on a piece of land in the junction between the Newtown and Welshpool roads at the bottom of town. The orchard was established following a license agreement with Powys County Council in 2017, spearheaded by Clinton Small and MEG with support from the Community Land Advisory Service (CLAS), and saw its first fruit trees - five rare Welsh fruit trees from Bunners - planted in April 2018. As soon as covid restrictions allow, MEG volunteers will join a working party to fill and plant the beds and do other tidying at the Orchard so it can continue to be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone in the town.
Last year, postmistress Denice Jaunzens challenged Montgomery residents to write about their experiences of living through lockdown, through creative writing, poetry or an essay. A writing competition was judged by Denice together with Barry Lord and Richard Eaves from the bookshop. Each winner was awarded a cash prize and a book token, sponsored by Montgomery Post Office and Eaves & Lord bookshop. The winner of the junior entry was Ciaran Taylor, who was commended by organiser Denice for his superb efforts. Ciaran is well-known to Montgomery residents as he regularly volunteers at public events; for this work, he was awarded the title of Honorary Freeman of Montgomery, of which he is very proud. A former student at Bishops Castle Community College, Ciaran, aged 16, is now studying Sports and Public Services at Newtown College, and he hopes to continue a career in public service by joining the Fire Service. The adult winners were Cyndy Humphreys for poetry, and Charlie Vaughan Jones for the best essay. The prose award winner wished to remain anonymous, and asked that their cash prize be donated to the local food bank. Denice said, “We were thrilled with the quality of the writing, and it was a very difficult task for us to choose just one winner in each category.” All the stories will be made available to read on the Montgomery Wales website shortly.
Having written an initial summary of the history of Lymore Hall for The Crier newsletter’s Faces and Places feature, Montgomery resident Oliver Lewis has decided to progress his research to an extended booklet, ‘A Brief and Interesting History of Lymore Hall.’ He explained, “This will be a historical, architectural and social history of this beautiful building, which for three centuries and more was at the heart of our community.” At the moment, Oliver is keen to collect information and see artefacts relating to the hall. He has discovered that there are a lot of items of interest held at the V&A Museum, for example, but Oliver is also keen to hear from people in and around Montgomery. He appeals, “I would welcome any anecdotes, photographs, papers, maps etc. owned personally (and to be supplied on a loaned-basis only) which can inform the historical record of Lymore Hall, its extensive gardens, its ‘pools’ and the Estate more generally, including the cricket ground and surrounding woods.” Any contribution, whether of knowledge or a loan of items, will be acknowledged in the booklet, which will be made available for sale. If anything springs to mind on this, please email email@example.com Image: Lymore Hall c.1910
St Nicholas’ Church in Montgomery has received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund under the ‘15 minutes heritage’ scheme. As well as improving interpretation of the heritage within the church, the group is gathering information, memories and photographs from those who grew up in Montgomery, and who are happy to share their early recollections of the church. One of the first to contribute was Tracey Williams, herself a professional photographer, who shared a photograph of a number of young people as they celebrated their confirmation service sixty years ago. Tracey has managed to gather most of the names of those pictured and the photograph includes both her father and her uncle. Lydia Bassett from the church project said, “The heritage project group is interested in talking to people about their early recollections of church activity, so if you were in this photograph, and would be happy to share your story, do get in touch.” Lydia added, “If you have photos of church events from years gone by, we'd love to see those too. This might include events such as outings, picnics or Sunday school activity, as well as services such as this one, or harvest festivals, weddings etc.” You can contact Lydia with your recollections and photographs by email to firstname.lastname@example.org Image: Young people outside St Nicholas’ Church in 1961, following their confirmation service. Copyright Tracey Williams Photography
The first of a new series of events, to be known as the “Monty Hour”, will take place on the 20th of January with a talk on “Recording Wildlife in Montgomeryshire” delivered by Simon Boyes (Bird Recorder for Montgomeryshire) and Clare Boyes (Bee and Wasp Recorder for Montgomeryshire). A group of Montgomery residents have started up this Monty Hour session which is open to all who are interested in topics relevant to Montgomery and its place in the World. The hour will usually take the format of a presentation given by one or more speakers followed by a question and answer session. Topics will be very wide ranging with the initial set including wildlife, reading, history, travel and celebrations. Town Councillor Gwil Stephenson, who is part of the group of residents organising the events, explained, "We know people are struggling with lockdown, and thought this might be a way of replacing some of the regular and one-off events that people are missing so much because of the pandemic." Gwil, who will be using his IT expertise to host the events, added, "We plan to work in partnership with local groups too. For our first talk, we were pleased to work with Montgomery Energy Group (MEG) who have moved their monthly presentations to the Monty Hour time slot. We will be working with other groups and individuals in the future to put on events covering a range of topics; we hope there will be something for everyone over the forthcoming period." The Zoom sessions, all taking place at 7-8pm on a Wednesday evening, can be accessed from the link https://montgomery.cloud/hour. People are welcome to attend an individual session, or to join each time, according to their interests and how busy they may be, and there will be no obligation to participate. Future events are being added to the calendar at the same link, and ideas for future sessions will also be welcome. If you are unsure how to link to the zoom session, or have any queries or suggestions, please email email@example.com. The Monty Hour logo was designed and created by Keri Castrelo Brignell.
The Churchward County Trust, which is building a full-size re-creation of a Great Western Railway (GWR) 'County' class 4-4-0 locomotive named 'County of Montgomery', has unveiled the loco's new nameplates. Forty of the original 'County' locos were built between 1904 and 1912, with 11 named after Welsh counties on the GWR network. Montgomeryshire was not included in the GWR's naming scheme at that time as it was a Cambrian Railways stronghold, but the county found itself at the heart of the GWR following the grouping of railway companies in 1923 when the Cambrian was absorbed into the GWR. It was for this reason that the Churchward County Trust selected the name County of Montgomery for its new loco. The nameplates have been generously sponsored by John Buxton of Cambrian Transport, and were produced by the Procast Foundry in Yorkshire. The new loco is being erected at Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham, where the main frames (chassis) have been assembled, the first example to be built since 1912. The CCT has also placed the order for County of Montgomery’s two cylinders, which are to be cast in the coming weeks, and will soon be ordering the four 6ft 8½ diameter driving wheels. CCT chairman Gary Boyd-Hope said: “It’s wonderful to see the new nameplates, which have been manufactured in the traditional manner with individually-cast brass letters mounted on a steel backplate, and surrounded by brass beading. We feel this gives Montgomeryshire the recognition it missed out on over 100 years ago when the original engines were built.” Further details of the project and how to support it, including a ‘County for the Cost of a Coffee a Week’ scheme, can be found at www.churchwardcounty.org.uk Photo credit: CCT
St Nicholas’ Church in Montgomery is delighted to have been awarded £9700 from the National Heritage Lottery’s 15 minute Heritage fund. The support will help the 13th century church share stories of the people involved with the building through history with locals and visitors, school children and the wider world. The funding is part of the National Heritage Lottery Fund’s response to the pandemic, encouraging people to engage with history locally and explore their own area in more detail. Lydia Bassett, a church committee member who worked on the application, told us, “We have some incredible stories to tell about our church - from Wales’ warrior princess in peril to literary ladies like Magdalene Herbert and the heartrending tale of The Robber’s Grave. However, at the moment those stories are not easily accessible to visitors, and many are not even known and understood by local people and schoolchildren. We want to tell the stories of this richly connected building, including of the metaphysical poet George Herbert; Magdalene Herbert, John Donne; Shakespeare’s Mortimer, his connection to Welsh warrior Owain Glyndwr and marriage to Glyndwr’s daughter Catrin.” Lydia added, “Montgomery has been at the heart of the history of the borders for centuries and we’re looking forward to sharing some of those stories through the church.” The money will be used for:- Creation and installation of bilingual interpretation panels; The installation of a projector, and the creation and display of short films on the memories of local people in the church; Providing training to local volunteers to support Tower days and give guided tours; Working with the local School to develop events telling the story of the individuals linked to the building. A small working group has been set up to support the project, and they will be working with specialists in the field as well as the local Civic Society and Old Bell Museum. Photograph: The Herbert tomb in St Nicholas’ Church Montgomery Photo credit: Adam Cusack at G17
Sue Blower, Montgomery’s Town Crier, was watched by 5.3 million viewers on Christmas night as she took part in the popular game show Blankety Blank. Sue met six celebrities on the show, as well as the host Bradley Walsh, who was taking a break from Doctor Who to host this one-off special. Sue had to complete a number of phrases and, although she didn’t reach the final round, she came home with the famous Blankety Blank chequebook and pen. Sue said, “It was a fantastic opportunity both to take part and to represent my home town of Montgomery as its Town Crier. All the celebrities were very friendly and we had a lot of fun.” Anyone who missed the programme on Christmas night can still see it, using one of the catch-up services.
The online Advent Calendar developed by Montgomery teenager Catrin McDougal has been an outstanding success, with a different short film each day being viewed by hundreds of people, and positive comments received from across the world, as well as from local residents. The content included readings, dances, festive music, short dramas, bell ringing, crafts and an explanation of Hanukkah; as well as contributions from the school in English and Welsh, and Montgomery's youngest contributors at pre-school, who danced and sang enthusiastically to Jingle Bells. The calendar finished with a message from Father Christmas himself behind door number 23, and Rev Alexis Smith gave a short version of the crib service behind door 24 for Christmas Eve. Catrin said, “The advent calendar has been received really well by locals and people further away. My aim was always to bring the community together and – with the help of Adam Cusack, Claire Weston and everyone else who contributed – I think we have.” She added, “This Christmas is going to be difficult for all of us, but being able to watch these videos hopefully will have brought a bit of joy to people’s lives.” Anwen, living in Malta, said on the website, “I missed visiting this year, so it’s great to be able to share in a little bit of Monty cheer.” Elva Barros commented from Spain, “I love it! It is beautiful. How good that although we are going through difficult times we find time to do these beautiful things.” With many people congratulating Catrin on her efforts on social media, Montgomery resident Doreen Eaton commented a few days in, “Such a great idea. Look forward to opening them every day, it really cheers me up. Well done all - roll on tomorrow!” Montgomery neighbour Rob Harper added, “This is a great idea and just what we all needed to get into the Christmas spirit. Thank goodness for our lovely community here in Montgomery, we are all extremely lucky to live in such an outstanding place.” Cartrin says, “The videos are still available if you’ve missed any or not been able to watch them.” https://www.montgomery-wales.co.uk/christ/advent/advent.php Photo: Lesley and Mike Mills sent a specially recorded short video for Catrin’s Advent calendar