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County Library ‘redefines our heritage’ but is at risk, says Royal Commission

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HAVERFORDWEST’S old County Library building features in a list of twentieth-century heritage buildings at risk prepared by the Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments for Wales (RCAHMW).

Public libraries, as important places of free and accessible education for adults and schoolchildren alike, were highlighted by several post-war studies including the Education Act of 1944, the Ministry of Education report ‘The structure of the public library service in England and Wales and The Robbins and Newson Reports on Education of 1964.

The Public Libraries and Museums Act, also of 1964, made it a statutory duty for local authorities to provide a library service that was ‘comprehensive and efficient’ as well as encouraging cultural activities within communities.

The Pembrokeshire County Library of 1967-69, designed by Pembrokeshire county architect, Gilbert Ray, was part of the building programme that followed the Act’s passage.

Externally the facade is dominated by a sculpture by artist David Tinker designed to represent the pages of open books, the last of his Fibonacci Sequence inspired series, while the interior is characterised by large, well-lit, open-plan spaces. To the left, a round theatre is curtained by a curved stone wall, the slit lights evoking a sense of the origin of the medieval town.

The function of the building was replaced by the Glan-yr-Afon cultural centre built in 2018 and it is currently for sale.

RCAHMW is challenging the idea of what springs to mind when you think of ‘a historic building’.

Castles, medieval churches, timber-framed houses? Maybe nineteenth-century industrial complexes, nonconformist chapels and Victorian mansions?

The chances are that post-war theatre, civic centres or schools are not the first buildings that most people think of, or would consider, as being ‘of historic interest’ at all!

The twentieth century in Wales was one of major economic, social, political, technological, religious, and cultural change, and the built environment had to change and diversify drastically over the course of 100 years in response to this.

These buildings and planned landscapes have equally shaped our lives from our day-to-day experiences of transport, work, home and leisure to landmark civic and political structures.

The twentieth-century heritage, particularly of the post-war period, is increasingly under threat of demolition and redevelopment and the Commission urges planners and the public to think urgently about what this means for Wales’s heritage.

It is important that disappearing buildings and landscapes from this period are recorded for future understanding alongside those of earlier periods, but we also want to recognise and celebrate the achievements of twentieth-century developments in design, architecture and technological innovation and ensure that its importance as the latest chapter in our long history can be understood and appreciated.

While some of these buildings, because of their scale, materials or complex history, may not always be easy to love at first sight, they play a vital role as a visible marker of our society’s more recent past.

To this end, the Royal Commission is recording C20 heritage at risk and formulating strategic programmes of thematic research to take forward.

RCAHMW has also been involved in the formation of C20 Cymru; the Twentieth Century Society in Wales and are looking forward to co-ordinating the twentieth-century period for the forthcoming revision of the Research Framework for the Archaeology of Wales.

Whatever your view of the County Library’s appearance, it is a marker of a period in our shared history. The library building and its sculpture represent how the architect and planners behind it saw both their time and the future.

The 2012-2017 Council, under Jamie Adams’ leadership, found the cost of redeveloping it as a cultural centre too heavy a burden only after it closed the library and shunted it into temporary accommodation.

Facilities which that administration promised to house in the building, including a community centre for young people, remain unprovided.

Since its closure, the building has remained empty; the façade slowly mouldering away. It is now up for demolition and redevelopment.

The modernist sculpture has been offered for installation elsewhere in Haverfordwest.

It remains to be seen whether anyone will accept it as a valuable reminder of Haverfordwest’s 20th-century heritage and give it the home it deserves.

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Buckingham palace announces Prince Philip’s funeral arrangements

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PRINCE PHILIP’S royal ceremonial funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle — a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic that will be entirely closed to the public.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The 99-year-old duke, who died Friday, also took part in designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin.

“Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth,” a palace spokesman said Saturday while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Prince Harry, Philip’s grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year and now lives in California, will attend the service along with other members of the royal family. His wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, has been advised by her doctor not to attend.

Palace officials said the ceremony would be conducted strictly in line with the British government’s COVID-19 guidelines, which restrict the number of people attending funerals to 30. They declined to say whether the royal family would be required to wear masks.

The palace appealed to the public not to gather in Windsor, and for those who wished to pay their respects to Philips to stay at home instead.

“While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible and not by visiting Windsor or any other royal palaces to pay their respects,″ the palace spokesman said. “The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”

The announcement comes after military teams across the U.K. and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes Saturday to mark the death of Philip, honouring the former naval officer and husband of Queen Elizabeth II whom they considered one of their own.

Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — the capitals of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom — as well as other cities around the U.K. and the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at one-minute intervals beginning at midday. Ships including the HMS Montrose, a frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.

“The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole,” Gen. Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said in a statement. “A life well-lived. His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty.”

Members of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries headed by the monarch, were also invited to honour Philip. The Australian Defence Force began its salute at 5 p.m. local time outside Parliament House in Canberra, and New Zealand planned to offer its own tribute on Sunday.

Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and once had a promising military career. In 1941, he was honoured for his service during the battle of Cape Mattapan off the coast of Greece, when his control of searchlights aboard the HMS Valiant allowed the battleship to pinpoint enemy vessels in the dark. Philip rose to the rank of commander before he retired from active duty.

Two years after the war ended, Philip married Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. Philip’s naval career came to an abrupt end when King George VI died in 1952 and his wife became queen.

At the queen’s coronation in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb” and settled into a life supporting the monarch. The couple had four children — Charles, the heir to the throne, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Before he retired from official duties in 2017, the prince carried out more than 22,000 solo public engagements and supported over 780 organizations, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for young people.

Members of the public continued to honour Philip’s life of service on Saturday, leaving flowers outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle despite appeals from authorities and the royal family to refrain from gathering.

“I think everyone would like to pay their respects,” Maureen Field, 67, said outside Windsor Castle. “Because of the virus, a lot of people have to stay away. He didn’t want a big funeral. He wanted a very private time with his family to say their goodbyes. So, we’ve all got to respect that.”

Mike Williams, 50, travelled from his home in Surrey, southwest of London, to Buckingham Palace to honour the prince.

“He’s a massive loss to the country and to the world, I think, so we wanted to come and pay respects,” Williams said. “I don’t know what it achieves, but it just felt like the right thing to do.”

(Associated Press, London – by James Brooks and Tom Rayner)

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Police: RNLI ‘most likely saved man’s life’ following tombstoning incident

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POLICE have issued an urgent warning following a tombstoning incident Tenby on Saturday evening (Apr 10).

A multi-agency operation was launched just after 6pm following reports of a man in difficulty after jumping from cliffs into the sea.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys police told The Herald: “We were called to the beach opposite St Catherine’s Island at around 6.15pm today, where a man had got into difficulty after jumping off the cliff into the water.

“On the arrival of officers, RNLI were at the scene and were administering CPR to the 23-year-old who was unconscious and not breathing.

“Fortunately, he regained consciousness shortly after and was taken to hospital for assessment.

Inspector Gavin Howells added: “This incident highlights the serious danger posed by tombstoning or cliff jumping, and the potentially life-threatening consequences.

“We urge people not to take part in this sort of activity anywhere along our coastline, and not to put themselves or the emergency services at risk for a thrill.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at the RNLI for their swift response to this incident, and for their actions which most likely saved this man’s life.”

RNLI Tenby posted on Facebook the following: “The Georgina Taylor was launched after person seen in difficulty in water

“Tenby’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched at around 6.25pm on Saturday, following a report of somebody in difficulty in the sea off Castle Beach.

“The volunteer crew were quickly on scene and immediately saw the casualty, who had been pulled from the water and was on the rocks.

“The casualty was taken from the rocks and into the lifeboat, where Casualty Care was administered whilst the helmsman made best speed to the harbour.

“As the lifeboat was entering the harbour, an ambulance was arriving at the slipway.

“The crew then assisted the ambulance personnel in getting the casualty onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, before re-housing the lifeboat.

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Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin

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POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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