Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Anglesey

This village with it's famous railway station is known to the tourist as the longest official place name in Europe and possibly second longest in the world. As the name presents it's own problems, it is often shortened to Llanfairpwll or as I refer to it ... Llanfair PG. In that sense the meaning of the Welsh translation (St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool of Llantysilio of the red cave) is a little lost !

For obvious reasons, it is not one of my favourite places but I felt that blog readers would like to this curiosity a lot more than I would want to publish this tourist only post ! It was thought the name originated in the 1860's as a publicity stunt by an unknown shoe repairer in a nearby village. His plan worked !

Although the railway station is on the main Crewe - Holyhead ( North Wales Coast ) line, most people arrive here by road transport as only local trains stop here.

The other station ..... !!
 In case you wondered whether people just came to see the railway station and the occasional small corner shop in the village, you would be quite wrong in thinking that. Someone in their great wisdom decided to open a tourist venue at the other end of the railway station car park. It is unfortunate in my opinion that this shop has the overall feel of a Scottish Woollen mill dressed up in "Welshness". To be fair some of the products are made in Wales but a lot originates from over the Scottish border.

Where more people sit on the other platform !! ..........
... thinking about destinations that "Arriva trains Wales" will never take you too !!
During Roman times, the Island of Anglesey was invaded possibly for the agricultural and fishing elements but the soldiers withdrew to fight against the army of Boadicea. Agriculture continued to be a major force in the local economy down the centuries where the residents worked on farms and in more recent centuries as tenants. Following the building of the two bridges across the Menai in the 19th century, traders arrived and business increased.

The Marquess of Anglesey's column
 The Marquess of Anglesey was a title given to a member of the Paget family following bravery in the Battle of Waterloo and apart from overseeing some of the farms at that time, there was a monument built in his memory.

Time to ascend the steps inside and .......

....see the building where I paid my entrance fee......

.... and see the main road/rail entrance into Anglesey... or ... The floodgates of tourism and industry are open !!
The Britannia Bridge lived without much incident from it's construction in 1850 ( by Newcastle upon Tyne bridge builder Robert Stephenson) until 1970 when it suffered a serious fire. The bridge had originally a large box tubular structure containing a railway line but a fire seriously damaged it and as it was part of the integral structure, the bridge had to be virtually rebuilt with the arched supports sitting in the Menai. A road was later constructed on the upper deck to ease congestion on the Menai Suspension Bridge. There are still four huge stone lions that stand guard in each corner.

(As a point of interest, Bangor is to the left of this picture, my accommodation was in the centre of the picture on the slopes of the small foreground hill and I did one mountain walk which was the peak on the  far left horizon.

I returned later in the week on Friday as I had no success on my last full day in searching for boxes of biscuits to take home as souvenirs. .... How do you know it's friday.... because all the coach tours are on there way home ready to pick up the next batch of tourists !! ....

The other empty friday platform to match the real one !
....and I have the whole shop to myself so as I can choose whatever I want ..... well, within reason ...

Friday, 24 June 2011

Menai Bridge, North Wales

The historic Menai bridge is one of the two links that connect the island of Anglesey to the mainland. This engineering masterpiece was designed by Thomas Telford and built between 1819 and 1826.

( Following the last post, you will observe that I am continuing my theme in this unofficially titled post "Menai 2".  This is a short architectural and photographic post)

view from where I parked the car on the mainland
Prior to the bridge being built, cattle were the main source of income on the island and had to be transported to the mainland by ferry.

In 1800 the geographical and political map was a little different and a Government Act was passed to improve links to Holyhead and Ireland which is where the idea for the bridge originally came from.

In 1893 the wooden elements of the bridge deck were replaced with steel and with the subsequent increase in traffic, the wrought iron chains were also replaced with steel ones in 1938.

Another link in the chain.......
... 900 of them !

In more recent years, the bridge was strengthened, resurfaced and painted in 1999 and 2005.

Breathe in !!
Thomas Telford would never have dreamt that his bridge would have accepted traffic like this !!

I local man walking over the bridge asked me what I was doing as I was taking photos at unusual angles and he was interested to hear who might be seeing these. He told me that Thomas Telford didn't expect the bridge to last more than 20 years.

Following on from last post, you will realise that there wasn't a lot to do in Bangor in the evening so I took a trip along here later for the sunset which on this particular evening was a little disappointing.

My back up plan was a once in a lifetime opportunity to photograph the floodlit bridge. I wasn't happy with the above angle so....

... I returned to the location I found by accident for the sunset viewpoint....

25 seconds on a windy night !!
.... and another journey over the bridge again finishing off with my original location.

One of my work colleagues who likes to see my photographs and general photos of people always complains to me by saying " we never see any photos of you on your travels "......

WRONG !! ..... under the arches

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Bangor, Wales

The small university city of Bangor in the North West corner of Wales was one of many places I researched for a five night accommodation break to combine a mixture of hill walking and tourism.
My eventual chosen location was half way between here and the distant hills in the background.

After the drive along one of my favourite main roads, the North Wales A55 coastal route (particularly the Conwy to Llanfairfechan section), I dropped my luggage off at the bed and breakfast and headed to my local town. As a car driver, the west end of the A55 was a little unfamiliar to me in parts as I was more used to the scenery near all the railway stations particularly during the mid 90's.

This gave me the opportunity of visiting Bangor pier for the first time albeit with a 15 minute period before it closed for the evening.

The Pier was built quite late after the Victorian tourist boom in the 1890's and stretches out into the Menai straits facing the island of Anglesey.

Originally there was a landing stage at the head of the pier from which steam ships took passengers to Liverpool, Blackpool and The Isle of Man. A railway track on the pier for transporting luggage was removed at about the same time that a ship collided ( bad weather conditions) with the pier in 1914 causing a gap. This structural damage took another 7 years to complete the repairs.

Sun going down ? ... or lights going out ?
The sun was about to set on the pier when it closed the gates in 1971 due to safety concerns and 3 years later it was saved from demolition by a council objection. The road to restoration was a long and torturous one starting with listed building status as one of the top three surviving piers in Britain. Ownership was secured by buying the pier for 1 pence, but restoration funds took another 7 years followed by 6 years spending the money ! The Pier finally re-opened it's gates in May 1988.

Looking up the Menai straits from the Pier

The main and historic building of Bangor University is a prominent part of the city on one side of the valley above the road systems ( including the high street) that track down the valley from the railway station to the seafront. It started in 1884 after donations were given by local quarrymen campaigning for better education in the area for their city and families. The degree qualifications were affiliated with London until it became The University of Wales in 1893.

Famous paintings were initially stored here during the second World War to protect them from German bombings before being transferred to underground slate mines in the nearby mountains. The University has grown in size and so too has the town with the number of students not quite doubling the population.

The name Bangor comes from an ancient Welsh word that refers to a fenced enclosure. Bangor Cathedral now stands on the site of what was that primitive 6th century monastery built by a celtic saint called Deiniol.

The story of Bangor Cathedral is a bleak one as it suffered numerous destructions from English Kings in the post Norman years. Reconstruction after centuries of unrest was completed in 1532 with subsequent work being done in 1824.

Further external work was carried out in the middle of the 19th century with features that we see today

Awesome beast... Reading lecturn
 Although you don't know it yet, I first discovered the Eagle lecturn as a child in the church next door to my Junior school when we sung Carols there at Christmas time. As an object of photographic beauty, I discovered it's merits in Sheffield at the beginning of the year .....  it is rapidly becoming an obsession of mine to photograph these objects in Churches and Cathedrals. The Chester lecturn missed the edit cut and I also have ...... a little secret ...... examples still to publish from Glasgow and Haworth at some quiet moment another time.

With a seat like this, I hope there's not more than 5 verses to the Hymn !
The uglier side of Bangor !! ...... seagull watch ... err maybe not.
Like most cities and towns, there is a normality behind the facade .... whether that is student life or living in an outpost of Great Britain where employment prospects may not be the best for some. Bangor is more normal than most tourist places as I couldn't even buy a box of souvenir biscuits here.

Arguably ... the longest High Street in Great Britain... it seems to go on forever !
One of the things about this blog and my adventures through certain cities and towns that readers occasionally miss, is the artistic photographic viewpoint I take when all else seems dull and uninteresting. It is my challenge to find something to photograph even if it has to stoop to humour ...

"Didn't we have a lovely time, the day we went to Bangor .... & all for under a pound "
(traditional folk song)
Bringing you some light on the subject !!
Cash point machine & Big Issue magazine seller, ideal spot really..... nice dog !
If you have any, bring & sell your gold here !!

It was time to return back to the safety of my accommodation for the week of Tregarth Homestay ....

.... & a much needed cup of tea 
I was left to consider much of nearby Bangor and those less fortunate than myself.... to find themselves imprisoned on Bangor Pier ........

A Chinese Panda holding a Welsh flag ..... a prisoner of (English/Welsh tourist ) war with a truce perhaps !

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