Annual General Meeting

There was a good turn-out for the Annual General Meeting of the Llanwrtyd & District Heritage and Arts Centre held on the evening of 29th August 2018.

The minutes of the last AGM were agreed and the Chairman’s and Treasurer’s reports were given.

Chairman’s Report to AGM Llanwrtyd and District Heritage Centre –
29th August 2018

Another eventful year has passed since our last AGM and I am pleased to announce that the Centre goes from strength to strength, with our visitor numbers maintaining an upward trend, our finances in good order and our art galleries fully-booked. I have below outlined in more detail the activities and changes at the Centre during the last 12 months.

In October, after 6 years’ service Pat Dryden retired from her position as Admin Officer. A new position of Public Relations Officer was advertised at the start of 2018, and Lynne Brookes was the successful candidate. Lynne brings with her a wealth of marketing experience and is working towards raising public awareness of the Centre and also working closely with volunteers, managing the rota, organising social events, trips and producing a regular newsletter. This year we have had weekly mentions in the What’s On sections of the Brecon and Radnor Express, as well as articles and adverts in The Cambrian Times, County Times, Mid-Wales Journal, Carmarthen Journal, The Brecon and Radnor Express, The Post and the lead article in The Wales Art review ( We also had a mention in an article about Llanwrtyd in the travel section of The Daily Telegraph and the Centre is now included in all the tourism websites relating to the area.

At the start of this year, our treasurer was successful in an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the funding of a mentor to advise us on project management, governance and marketing. Heritage consultant Andrew Deathe from Swansea has been appointed to the position and his brief is to help trustees gain the skills required to develop a successful long-term future for the Centre. Andrew will also be working with the Town Council and local businesses.

We have seen an increase of 10% in visitor numbers and have welcomed many overseas visitors from countries including Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Poland and USA amongst others. Once again, our visitors’ book is full of complimentary comments and we currently have a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, with 21 out of 22 reviews giving us an ‘excellent’ rating and the other ‘very good’. This season several visitors have made use of our archive to research pictures or information about ancestors – something which is very satisfying, considering how much work went in to building the archive in the early years of our project (please see letter from Dilys Nicholson). Plans are afoot to recommence archiving items loaned to us by local residents, and others further afield who have connections with Llanwrtyd.

Our art galleries have hosted exhibitions including: painting, sculpture, digital art and photography with more art, sculpture and woodwork to come before the end of the season. In July we became an international venue by hosting French artist Helene Forgeaite from Meriel and we are already taking art gallery bookings for 2019.

During the closed season Rob Thomas once again hosted our monthly talks and lectures and he has already started planning for the upcoming winter (please see details elsewhere). We also hosted a solo guitar concert by Tim Edwards. The Centre has also been used as a venue for outside organisations to hold meetings, including Cymdeithas Cymraeg Llandrindod, Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society, Cambrian Mountains Initiative, Spa Towns Wellness Group and PAVO (Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations). All organisations were very impressed with the surroundings and the facilities.

Pat Jones has introduced many new products to the retail range, so please feel free to browse at the end of the meeting. There are also raffle tickets for our big annual draw available at the reception desk.

Prior to opening this year, a small group of volunteers converted the small middle room into a commemorative display to mark the centenary of the end of World-War 1. This display has greatly impressed with some visitors being moved to tears. This display will stay in place until remembrance Sunday, when we will open for the day as part of the commemorations. The knitted poppies which form part of the display will be donated for sale during next year’s poppy appeal. On the Saturday evening before Remembrance Sunday, there will be a Concert of Remembrance at the Centre featuring Llandovery Male Voice Choir (for more information see details elsewhere)

We also have a temporary display to mark the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Heart of Wales railway line as part of celebrations taking place in towns up and down the line. It is also the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Congregational Chapel where we are seated today, and we have an event to mark the occasion on Sunday 23rd September. There will be a walk from Gelynos graveyard (the site of the original Congregational Chapel) to the Heritage and Arts Centre, where there will be a Victorian Tea and a talk on the history of the chapel by Susan Price.

Finally I would like to thank all the stewards, trustees, volunteers, friends and donors for their contribution to another successful year at Llanwrtyd and District Heritage and Arts Centre.

Tony Thorpe
August 2018

Election of Trustees

Sarah Jones and Paul Schofield stood down as trustees and were duly re-elected for the forthcoming year.

The year ahead looks promising with the town appearing more vibrant with the addition of three new shops, bringing back to life a number of the buildings in the town.

Letter recently received by the Heritage Centre

Dear Tony

Greetings from Sydney, Australia.

My husband Brian and I have recently returned from our travels in the United Kingdom.  We visited Llanwrtyd Wells because my grandmother, Margaret Jones was born there in 1868, 150 years ago. We had no expectation of learning anything about my family, only to see the area where she was born. However, the highlight of our whole journey was our visit to your town, and the Llanwrtyd and District Heritage and Arts Centre was the key to the success of our visit.

This was because of the resources at the Heritage Centre, and the  people connected with the Centre itself, as well as others of the district. I have learnt so much about individual family members including my great uncle Evan Jones (Margaret’s brother) and his daughters Dilys and Menna Jones, and about their way of life. For example, I have never known why I was named Dilys and my brother named Evan. Now, at age 77, this mystery has been solved! In addition, to receive photos of these people from the Heritage Centre has made the connections even more precious.

And this is all due to the existence of the Llanwrtyd and District Heritage and Arts Centre. I am very aware that this has been a mammoth task for many people over many years, but the results speak for themselves.

I would like to commend the Trustees and all the volunteers for such a wonderful and valuable provision. The resources provided in the Centre are extensive, and the people there were so helpful and knowledgeable.

Please pass on my congratulations to everyone concerned – keep up the good work!

Yours sincerely
Dilys Nicolson

Remembering the Great War – 1914 to 1918

To commemorate 100 years since the end of World War I Llanwrtyd & District Heritage and Arts Centre is hosting a Remembering the Great War Exhibition. Our volunteers have been busy researching the history of the area during that time and the local heroes who served at the various fronts and its impact on the country but especially the local area.

At the heart of the exhibition is a cascade of poppies displayed on the font in the main exhibition area. All the poppies have been knitted and donated by members of the community.

Pat & Lynne attaching the knitted poppies

Also on display is a recreation of a trench in which many soldiers from Llanwrtyd and the surrounding area would have endured during the battles on the Western Front.

The recreation of a trench on the Western Front

Thank you to everyone involved in creating such a wonderful, informative and poignant display.

The Centre is open between 10am & 4pm every Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday and the Remembering the Great War Exhibition runs until November 2018.

Entry is FREE.

Children are welcome – there is a free quiz and competition to count the poppies.

Heritage Lottery Fund gives funding to Llanwrtyd & District Heritage and Arts Centre

Llanwrtyd & District Heritage and Arts Centre is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a grant of £7,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund  towards a project to strengthen trustees capacity in areas of project management, governance and marketing to ensure a sustainable future. Over the past two years visitors have been impressed with the quality of the exhibition which tells the story of the town from the time it became famous as a Spa town up to the present day. Nevertheless, as trustees, we cannot rest on our laurels and need to ensure that the Centre goes from strength to strength so that we can look forward to a healthy and financially sustainable future.
We shall be appointing a marketing and project management consultant to mentor us for a total of 15 days staggered at suitable intervals throughout the year. The consultant will meet representatives from the Town Council and other tourism business enterprises in the town to see how the Heritage and Arts Centre and the town as a whole can benefit from new marketing initiatives taking place in Mid-Wales. These include the proposed ‘Heart of Wales Wellness’ project and Visit Wales A470 Cambrian Way initiative. Part of the funding will also allow trustees, our public relations officer and other volunteers to attend training courses to enable them to develop their own capacities in marketing and project management.

Richard Bellamy, Head of HLF in Wales, said “Llanwrtyd & District Heritage and Arts Centre is a good example of HLF’s Resilient Heritage programme. Good governance is essential to any project and having the skills needed to run a heritage centre will ensure that people can continue to enjoy this special heritage collection.”

Llanwrtyd Wells is renowned for its unusual and quirky events such as its Man versus Horse Marathon, Bog Snorkelling and World Alternative Events. Through this project we shall be endeavouring to demonstrate other reasons for visiting the town in order to broaden Llanwrtyd Wells’ overall appeal as a tourist destination.

About HLF
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported

Heritage Centre Reopens

On Thursday 29th March the Heritage & Arts Centre re-opens it’s doors again.

After a successful season of talks, events and concerts visitors are again welcome to the town and Heritage Centre for a full programme of events.

The Art Gallery has again attracted local area; some who have visited us before and some new and exciting exhibitors.

Rest by the Wayside – Glenn Morris
Digital art from Richie Dean

Many of the artists will be at the Gallery during their exhibitions so be sure to come along and have a chat and find out more or even buy your own piece of art.

To commemorate the centenary of the First World War the Centre will be hosting an exhibition, an event which changed the world but highlighting its’ impact upon a small, rural Welsh town. The focal point of the exhibition will be a cascade of knitted poppies produced by members of the community.

Newspaper Article from 1915

Entry to the Centre and Art Gallery is free.

London’s Great Grab

Again the Heritage Centre drew a crowd for one its regular evening events. On this occasion a talk given by Richard Rees regarding a largely forgotten proposal by London County Council to provide “pure Welsh water to the residents of London”.

The plan was to capture many of the rivers of Mid-Wales, divert them to huge impounding reservoirs and then transport this by gravity to London, 180 miles away. A headline of the Evening Express of 7th November 1895 stated;



A proposed damn located near Garth would have flooded the Ifron Valley and the creation of the Irfon Reservoir resulting in the drowning of the villages of Garth, Beulah and Llangammarch Wells and the demolition of Llanwrtyd Wells. Although Llanwrtyd would have been saved from flooding it would have be demolished to prevent potential pollution of the stored waters.

The development would have been huge, four times greater that the Elan Valley reservoirs built to provide water for the growing city of Birmingham.

The plan was close to becoming reality but was defeated in the House of Commons in 1899 (in part because of the cost of buying the six existing London Water Companies) and the threat largely forgotten.

Richard has spent extensive time researching London’s Great Grab and his talk was an intriguing insight into a great Victorian civil engineering scheme which could have changed the face of mid-Wales.

Heritage & Arts Centre – September Programme

During September we shall be presenting an exciting and varied programme of exhibits by our local network of Irfon Valley Artists and Artisans. Paintings by 15 artists in a variety of media and styles will be on display throughout the month in the upstairs gallery. Downstairs members will be present each weekend to show and demonstrate their crafts and skills.

Saturday 23rd      Beryl Smith              Cards
Sunday 24th         Maggie Oliver          Weaving

Saturday 30th      Barbara Thomas    Weaving
Sunday 1st              Barbara Thomas    Weaving

These artist and artisans will be sharing the downstairs facilities with Richie Dean Digital Art who will be exhibiting for the whole month. This will be the second time that Richie, who lives in Rhandirmwyn, has exhibited at the Centre this year. Richie creates imaginative images from locations within Wales, often melting different images together to create something new within his mind’s eye. His last exhibition proved to be very popular and we look forward to welcoming both Richie, on his return visit, and Irfon Valley Artists and Artisans.

Monthly talks on the first Wednesday of each month will also be restarting in September – please see separate notice in Grapevine.

And don’t forget about our new shop at the Centre, which provides a selection of good quality products made in Wales, including soaps, creams, pottery, jams, chocolate, cards and articles made from slate. Remember that this shop is not just for visitors but for you as a resident too, especially if you are looking for gifts for family or friends!

Railway Station’s 150th Year Anniversary.

Llanwrtyd Wells has just celebrated the 150th anniversary of the opening of its Railway Station on 6th May 1867. After congratulatory speeches over 100 members of the community crowded into the station building for afternoon tea arranged by ‘Friends of the Station’, a group of volunteers who look after the planting at the station.

The establishment of rail link was an important event in establishing the development of Llanwrtyd Wells as an important spa town. Soon trains were bringing thousands of visitors from South Wales and elsewhere for their summer holidays and to ‘take the waters’. As a consequence the town grew rapidly to accommodate these large numbers of visitors – many of the buildings that one sees around the centre of the town were built at this time during the late 1800s.

An interpretive board situated at the railway station describes how things have changed since then when a station master, a booking clerk and two porters were on duty to meet five passenger trains arriving each day. Older residents can remember the town at that time with over 30 shops, two golf courses and a bowling green – so hard to believe now! Visitors to the Heritage and Arts Centre are able learn more about this fascinating period in Llanwrtyd’s history and listen to members of our community talking about their memories.

Mr John Price (in the centre of the photograph with ‘Friends of the Station’ and children from Ysgol Dolafon) was the last signalman, employed from 1969 until 1986 and often also deputising as station master/porter/booking clerk/parcels clerk/public relations officer too!). At 20.15 on 6th July 1986 John filled the kettle as usual so that up and down train drivers could make a can of tea when they arrived, and then, for the last time, walked up the platform to operate the necessary points and signals and walked back to hand over a ‘train staff ticket’ to each of the drivers to allow the two trains to proceed along the next section of the line.

The station has remained unmanned ever since.

Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines’ Visit

Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, who was one of the children rescued by the late Sir Nicholas Winston when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938 and who came to school in Llanwrtyd Wells, paid another visit to the town on 27th April. She is currently associated with a project to erect on 27th May a memorial in Prague Railway Station to remember the selfless love and sacrifice of the parents who sent their children to a foreign land and into the arms of strangers fearing they may never see them again. The memorial will depict a railway carriage window with the hands of parents on one side and those of the children on the other. Most of the parents perished in the Holocaust.
The story of the children’s arrival in Llanwrtyd Wells is one of the many incredible stories of the town’s history exhibited in the Heritage and Arts Centre. Accompanying Lady Milena on her visit was a film crew who are making a documentary of the story to be broadcaston Czech television.

Llanwrtyd Wells has enjoyed a long and fruitful association with the former children who were at school at the former Abernant Hotel, now an adventure centre for schools. Children attending the centre nowadays learn about the tragic story of the Holocaust and the Czech children who came to safety in Llanwrtyd.

Llanwrtyd Wells is twinned with Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic and a meal was held in the Neuadd Arms Hotel with members of the Town Council and Twinning Association to celebrate Lady Milena’s (pictured second from end of table on left) visit with members of the film crew.

Heritage and Arts Centre reopening in April

Following last years successful first summer the award winning Heritage and Arts Centre will reopen its’ doors on Thursday 13th April at 10.00am. The Centre will be open throughout the summer and autumn from Thursday to Sunday between 10.00am and 4.00pm.

In November 2016 the Brecon & Radnor Branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales presented us with its ‘Rural Wales Award’ for the community effort in the revitalization of an old building and delivering a complex project which promotes an awareness and understanding of the local heritage. Visitors have regularly congratulated us on the quality of the refurbishment and the interesting and well-presented display.

The Art Gallery will provide added interest in the coming year with a series of month-long exhibitions by different artists and crafts people who will often be present to demonstrate and discuss their work. See our What’s On section for further details.

You will find a warm welcome awaits at the Heriatge Centre in Britain’s Smallest town so why not pay us a visit.

Entry to the Centre and Art Gallery is free and the display area is accessible to all.