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Students show their metal

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student metalSTUDENTS at Pembrokeshire College’s MITEC Centre have been busy over the last few weeks competing to secure their places in upcoming UK skills competitions.

February saw six students competing in the passive heats for UK SkillWeld. With four hours to carry out three process (MMA, TIG and MIG), the students were keen to impress the judges, especially as the semi-finals are set to be held at MITEC during May.

Judged by College lecturer Mike Tennick and Martin Farthin, from The Welding Institute, the judges took over an hour to reach their final decision in a very close competition. Martin commented: “It was a gallant effort from all competitors. There were some tough welds and judging wasn’t easy. Good luck to those who have made it through to the semi-final.”

First place went to Ross Lascelles, an apprentice with Mainport 1990, second place went to Luke Lawrence, an apprentice with Ledwoods, and third place went to Gavin Campbell, an apprentice with Port Engineering. These students are now preparing for the semi-finals in May. With the competition season well and truly underway, last week then saw another two MITEC students travel to Coleg Sir Gar to take part in the Welsh Construction Metalworking Competition (Plating).

As part of the competition the students were given a fabrication exercise to complete in five hours. The exercise included many processes to test the candidates” ability including marking out, bending, cutting, drilling and welding steel to a tolerance of 2mm.

Following a tough day Jake Griffiths, an apprentice with Mainport 1990, finished second while Amy Phillips picked up fourth place but scored enough points to see her competing alongside Jake in the semi-finals to be held at Coleg Sir Gar in June.

Opened in 2007, the centre is rapidly earning itself a reputation as the place for aspiring welders/platers and pipefitters to learn their trade. To find out more about the courses available at MITEC, call Admissions on 0800 9 776 788.MITEC would like to take this opportunity to thank all the local employers for their continual support in releasing students to compete in local and regional competitions.

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Environmental projects supported by Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund

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PROJECTS involving worm composting, community planting and solar panels were just some of the projects that recently received support from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund.

More than £140,000 was awarded to eight projects at the committee’s January meeting with the next deadline for applications set for 12 noon on 23 March.

Clynfyw Care Farm was successful with an application for a vermicomposting project, which will create a quality rich sustainable compost that can be used to improve soil conditions organically. This will support local vegetable producers and sequestrate carbon in the process.

The Newport Area Environment Group will receive funding to lead a community planting project promoting decarbonisation through biodiversity.

Cwm Arian Renewable Energy secured financial support to research a Pembrokeshire-wide Energy Efficiency program, with the aim of reducing energy use and tackling fuel poverty by increasing and normalising the uptake of low carbon life choices.

Funding for photovoltaic (PV) panels was agreed for projects submitted by Herbrandston Sports and Recreation Association, South Ridgeway Community Association, Neuadd Gymuned Bwlchygroes Community Hall, Ramsey Island Nature resort and Visitor Centre, and Crymych Rugby club, who all received funding to help harness solar energy.

Directors from Clynfyw Care Farm said: “Thanks to funding from SDF, this worm composting project will be a useful tool for engaging with people, reducing CO2 and teaching a simple sustainable process with important stages in a safe, supported environment. Once established, vermicompost will be available for purchase in local outlets, providing an environmentally-friendly alternative for local growers.”

Applications for funding are encouraged from not for profit groups, including village halls, community councils and environmental groups in the county who have a project that will contribute towards a reduction in carbon and help respond to the climate emergency.

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Did the world’s first airplane fly in Pembrokeshire?

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WHEN asked who was the first to fly an airplane, you’d probably say Wilbur and Orville Wright, more commonly referred to as the Wright brothers. However, you’ve probably never heard of Bill Frost, a Welshman who many say was the “first man to fly.”

Born in Saundersfoot on May 28th, 1848, Bill Frost was a carpenter on the Heyn Castle Estate.

Clearly, as a handyman, he was in the perfect position to build a plane, and this obsession, if the tale is to be believed, was strengthened in the winter of 1876. Legend says that Frost was carrying a large plank of wood on a windy day when a large gust of wind picked him up, carried him several feet, until he returned to the ground with a rather rough landing.

What followed was, shall we say, some rather odd behaviour.

Locals reported seeing Frost running around fields, with a large sheet of zinc above his head, presumably trying to get another gust of wind to lift him up. Although he was testing the limits of aerodynamic designs in all likelihood, he was of course branded rather bizarre locally.

Many locals also attributed this behaviour to grief, as his wife and daughter had recently died. A religious man and deacon of his local chapel, one could understand locals believing he was maybe trying to get to Heaven.

In 1894, things started to get serious for Frost, who applied for a patent for a flying machine on October 25th. To describe the patent would be to describe an amalgamation between a plane and a glider, with two reversible fans which would, he hoped, lift him into the air for a successful flight.

Bill Frost with his wife, Annie, in 1896 . Bill lived until 1935.

Then, the patent said, wings would be spread via a lever and another lever would control whether the aircraft was moving up or downwards.

With his practical knowledge and his interesting research methods, Frost began work on building the aircraft.

He did so in the workshop of his house on St Bride’s Hill, an impressive feat when you consider it was over 30 feet long.

Reports state that the aircraft was built out of bamboo, canvas and wire, with bags and pouches filled with hydrogen to help it stay afloat.

The patent, in full, reads: “The flying machine is constructed with an upper and lower chamber of wire work, covered with light waterproof material. Each chamber formed sharp at both ends with parallel sides. The upper large chamber to contain sufficient gas to lift the machine. In the centre of upper chamber a cylinder is fixed in which a horizontal fan is driven by means of a shaft and bevelled gearing worked from the lower chamber. When the machine has been risen to a sufficient height, then the fan is stopped and the upper chamber, which has wings attached, is tilted forward causing the machine to move as a bird, onward and downward. When low enough it is again tilted in an opposite direction which causes it to soar onward and upward, when it is again assisted if necessary by the fan. The steering is done by a rudder at both ends.”

A book has been written about the subject

So, why are the Wright brothers considered the first men to fly?

Well, for starters, there’s no photographs of Frost’s flight, nor any written testimonials. However Frost himself, as well as several locals in the area, claimed that on September 24th, 1896, Frost flew for approximately 500 yards.

This, if true, would have been a considerably longer flight than the Wright brothers achieved.

The end of the flight was not so successful, however, as the bottom of the craft hit a tree and crashed into a nearby field.

Not deterred by this, Frost repaired the machine, however it was then destroyed in a storm some weeks later, and Frost could not afford to build a new one from scratch.

His patent expired four years later.

Without a craft for another flight, and with no photographic evidence, his claim to be the first man to fly, unfortunately, can not be verified.

In 1935 Frost died aged 90 years old. Although he held no grudge against the Wright brothers, he did state that the government had turned down his application for funding following his first attempt, which scuppered the hope of any future flights after his craft was destroyed.

The reason for this? The government claimed that aircraft would never be used for navigation or warfare; a statement that looked very foolish as World War I began to play out.


HTV footage from the 1990’s on the Bill Frost story (Youtube)
 

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Library reservations service expanded

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PEMBROKESHIRE’S Library Service has extended its reservation service.

Customers can place up to two reservations for books and audiobooks, which are available and in stock at libraries in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Narberth, Newport, Neyland, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Saundersfoot and Tenby.

Items are also available to reserve from the service’s Stack (store).

Library members can place reservations free of charge, in person or via the online catalogue.

To access the online catalogue, log on to https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture and select ‘Find Library Books’.

Customers can also place a request for an item not currently in stock, to be purchased as one of their two reservations.

The Library Service is not offering an Interlibrary Loan service at the present time.

For details on the library services currently offered in Pembrokeshire, please view https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture

 

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