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Death of the book shop in Pembrokeshire?

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open_book_on_tabl_450It is no secret that independent bookshops have long been under threat. In 2012 Amazon announced that e books had overtaken the sales of print books on their website.

 Take a walk down your local high street and it is difficult not to find an empty building that used to be a book shop. Or a bookshop you never realised was there because you choose to buy your literature elsewhere because it’s cheaper or more convenience. In the last few years several independent Bookshops in Pembrokeshire have closed, those left belonging to chains such as WHsmith and Waterstones. Bethan Davies is book buyer for Victoria Bookshop in Haverfordwest and claims although sales have decreased, people recognise ‘if they don’t use us they will lose us.’ Marley Davies purchased the bookshop in 1981 at 5 Victoria Place, the birthplace of Pembrokeshire artist Augustus John. Augustus’s father was a stationer and bookseller but it is unknown if there’s a link between the family and early history of the shop which dates back to around 1891. In 1996 it moved to its current location in Bridge Street. Today the shop stocks ‘any local interest/author and any book that customers would like to see on our shelves. Our main aim is customer interaction that you don’t get online. We all recommend books that we have read and we also offer a loyalty scheme.’ They have a website through hive which supports local businesses by ensuring money from online sales goes back to the bookshops. Here customers can find information and order books online. There is also a signed copies section with books available at no extra cost to the cover price. Victoria bookshop regularly holds events and book signings by local authors. When asked her thoughts on the many bookshops closing their doors, Bethan said ‘It’s very sad. There will only be a future if local people continue to support us.’ Until recently, Victoria Bookshop was the only independent bookshop left in Haverfordwest. In April 2014, The Book Cellar opened, behind the town castle offering new and second hand books for sale as well as the sourcing of books for customers. Anna Cartwright, the shop owner and local to Haverfordwest says she saw a niche in the market for a bookshop offering both new and old books. ‘I’ve received positive feedback from locals and tourists who have thoroughly enjoyed rummaging through my shelves.’ The Book Cellar advertise through their website and are proud of their 5 star rating on Facebook. They regularly hold events for children and book signings. When asked about the risks of opening a bookshop in the current climate, Anna added ‘It will never make me a millionaire but I do it for the love of books…A real book won’t run out of battery or be stolen on holiday. E books have no character, no smell and no history!’ Talking about the future of independent bookshops, Anna said she would like to see ‘larger publishers offer better deals to independents, for independent businesses everywhere to have better prices for renting premises and for more support from local authorities.’

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Community

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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Community

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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