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‘Dukedog’ locomotive returning to Aberystwyth for first time in 60 years

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A POPULAR ‘Dukedog’ locomotive is returning to the Vale of Rheidol Railway at Aberystwyth for the first time in over 60 years.

‘Dukedog’ No.9017 will be arriving in the town in late February, for static display in the new Museum & Display Space at the Vale of Rheidol Railway. The 85 year old locomotive is on loan from the Bluebell Railway in Sussex.

The locomotive is nicknamed a ‘Dukedog’ because it is a hybrid of two different classes of engine: the underframe of a ‘Duke’ locomotive combined with the boiler of a ‘Bulldog’.

‘Dukedog’ locomotives have a long association with Aberystwyth, having been a regular sight working trains between Aberystwyth, Machynlleth and Pwllheli in steam days.

The last ‘Dukedog’ locomotive left Aberystwyth in May 1960 and one has not returned to the town until now.

Llŷr ap Iolo, Vale of Rheidol Railway managing director, said: “We are very excited to announce the loan of this locomotive to go on public display here in Aberystwyth. I am very grateful to the board of the Bluebell Railway for making this loan possible.

“As part of the project to construct our new museum, standard gauge track was laid to facilitate this kind of visit: the ‘Dukedog’ seemed the perfect choice to be the first standard gauge locomotive to be put on display.”

The locomotive is normally based at the Bluebell Railway, where it has lived for the last 60 years. The locomotive went out of traffic for repairs in 2011 and has been hidden away in undercover storage since then.

Neil Glaskin, Bluebell Railway operations and commercial director, said“We are really pleased to be able to work with The Vale of Rheidol Railway to bring the Dukedog back to Aberystwyth.

“Since 2011, the locomotive has been stored undercover but this has meant limited chances for the public to see it. By displaying the loco in the new museum everyone will have the chance to admire this fascinating machine.”

The locomotive was built in Swindon Works in 1938 for the Great Western Railway and spent it’s working life in Wales, where it worked over the Cambrian lines to Pwllheli and Aberystwyth. It was light enough to work over Barmouth Bridge, so remained in regular use until the 1950s despite its antiquated appearance.

John ‘Abergynolwyn’ Davies, 94, who still lives in Aberystwyth, worked on the ‘Dukedog’ locomotives when they were based in Ceredigion in the 1950s.

He said: “I spent a glorious week in the summer of 1955 firing No.9017 with driver Tom Phillips. We worked the 9.55am ‘all stations’ from Aberystwyth to Welshpool each day, where we serviced the engine: our return working was the Cambrian Coast Express, all the way to Aberystwyth. Working with Tom felt like a ‘holiday job’ because of his light handling of the loco.”

John recalled: “We were climbing Talerddig bank with No.9017, when Tom said: ‘shall I show you how to get the best out of a Dukedog?’. I stood in the driving position, as he gave me a demonstration of the easiest way to fire it. The loco performed well all week: it was one of the best working weeks of my life.”

The ‘Dukedog’ will be on display in the restored 1938 engine shed at Aberystwyth station from March 2024 onwards. This building has recently been transformed into a museum, display and events space as part of a larger project called “Wales to the World”, which is developing the terminus at Park Avenue into a Great Western-style station suitable for the modern tourist.

This location is especially significant for No.9017, as it will be displayed in the building where it was based and used to work in the 1950s.

The public will be able to view the ‘Dukedog’ at the Vale of Rheidol Railway from March 23 onwards, when the railway opens for the season. The railway and museum are then open daily until the start of November.

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Entertainment

NoFit State Circus set to thrill Pembrokeshire this summer

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NoFit State Circus is set to captivate Pembrokeshire once again this summer, as they bring back their thrilling big top show, Sabotage.

Returning to Haverfordwest from June 13th to 30th, NoFit State promises an experience unlike any other traditional circus. With no sad animals or tired tricks, Sabotage offers a fusion of circus and music, presented by a supremely talented troupe that leaves audiences in awe.

Described as “another full-on, boisterous, and audaciously fierce performance with the NoFit State signature style,” Sabotage introduces a darker, grittier, and more subversive edge to the troupe’s renowned contemporary circus.

“Back in the big top with incredible new acts, original music, new apparatus and a more theatrical feel, Sabotage challenges the status quo,” shares NoFit State. “This is an energising, uplifting, and socially relevant contemporary circus production.”

The show delves into themes of separation and belonging, with each scene narrating stories that range from poignant and heart-tugging to utterly joyful.

“We’ve had a hard time keeping this a secret, but we are finally ready to fill you in,” announced NoFit State yesterday. “Tickets for our big top show Sabotage are now on sale for Pembrokeshire, back in the place where we performed Sabotage for the first time ever back in 2022!”

Pembrokeshire holds a special significance for the troupe, and they invite audiences to witness how the show has evolved since its debut. This year, Pembrokeshire is the sole Welsh location where Sabotage will be performed, with an early bird offer granting spectators 20 per cent off their tickets until midnight on May 6th.

Sabotage will grace Pembrokeshire from June 13th to 30th, with ticket prices starting at £18. “More locations in the tour to be announced soon,” assures NoFit State. “Until then, enjoy your summer in Pembrokeshire in a shiny silver Big Top Tent with us.”

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Education

Pupils take centre stage for dance competitions

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MORE than 230 Pembrokeshire pupils have taken part in exciting dance competitions at primary and secondary school levels.

Sport Pembrokeshire hosted the primary school dance competition on March 19th at Fishguard Leisure Centre.

Seven schools from across the county and more than 160 pupils took part, including both boys and girls from school years 3-6.

All style and street dance were the categories that teams, solos and duos could enter. There were 55 solo performers entering the street dance solo category.

Pupils from Ysgol Bro Gwaun performed a group dance and some performed brilliant solos for the primary pupils to watch.

Finola (FF Dancers), Kelly (Kelly Williams School of Dance) and Lowri (Lowri Jones School of Dance) judged the high standard of competitions with dance coaches Lucy Kerrison and Kelci Francis helping out during the day.

They are all thanked for their help and expertise as putting on an event of this nature would not be possible without their valuable input.

Forty eight medals, 22 trophies and numerous certificates were presented, including awards for stand-out performers.

The atmosphere was great and it was brilliant to see the pupils taking part, getting creative and showcasing their skills, all with a smile on their faces.

The secondary schools dance competition was hosted on Thursday, 29th February at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre.

In total 77 girls from school years 7-11 competed in various categories such as teams, duos and solos. These included street, all style, freestyle, jazz and cheer.

Finola and Kelly judged the day with the help from Lucy and Kelci. Kelci, a former Ysgol Harri Tudur pupil, also gave showstopping performances.

It was a great day with a fantastic atmosphere and very rewarding to see so many girls taking part in sport and enjoying every minute.

Some of the schools who attended are now through to the UDOIT Dance Competition in Cardiff.

Hundreds of pupils have enjoyed school dance competitions over recent weeks.

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Entertainment

Coastal adventures and home revelations: BBC Wales’ exciting new lineup

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BBC WALES is set to enchant viewers with a fresh slate of programming that spans a rich tapestry of Welsh culture, lifestyle, and adventure. Leading the charge are Wales’s beloved presenters, Wynne Evans and Joanna Page, who will take audiences on a scenic journey with their new show, Wynne Evans and Joanna Page: Lost at Sea. This program promises to be a celebration of the Welsh coastline, packed with culinary expeditions, musical interludes, and the spirit of discovery aboard their motor yacht.

Nick Andrews, Head of Commissioning at BBC Cymru Wales, expressed excitement over the diverse array of new and returning series that aim to mirror contemporary Welsh life in all its vibrancy. From the nuances of cooking and music to the intricacies of interior design and the rustic charm of sheep shearing, there’s an offering for every palette.

Lost at Sea will see Evans, celebrated as 2023’s Celebrity MasterChef winner, and Page delving into Wales’s coastal treasures, from quaint fishing villages to bustling towns, unearthing unique dining experiences and cooking up storms themselves.

Another anticipated return is Wales’ Home of the Year, now in its third season with a special Christmas edition on the horizon. Judges Owain Wyn Evans, Mandy Watkins, and Glen Thomas will traverse Wales to spotlight homes that stand out for their architectural and design ingenuity, culminating in the crowning of Wales’ Christmas Home of the Year.

In a gripping narrative departure, Hunting Mr Nice will chronicle the life of Howard Marks, a Welshman turned notorious cannabis smuggler. This two-part series for BBC Two and iPlayer is set against the backdrop of the War on Drugs, featuring exclusive interviews that piece together Marks’ enigmatic existence.

Music aficionados can look forward to Kelly Jones with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, where Kelly Jones, famed for his Stereophonics legacy, will premiere new solo work alongside timeless hits, reimagined with orchestral flair.

Chris Cooks Cymru introduces viewers to Chris ‘Flamebaster’ Roberts, who embarks on a culinary journey across Wales, celebrating local cuisine against stunning landscapes and communal cookouts.

The lineup also boasts a slew of returning favorites and new ventures that explore Welsh life’s breadth, from the competitive spirit of sheep shearing in Rockstar Shearers to the heartfelt community project in Dream Team, and the spiritual and ecological explorations of Skanda Vale Life.

Nick Andrews lauded the lineup, highlighting the joy and impact talent-fronted shows have on audiences. With such a rich and diverse offering, BBC Cymru Wales is poised to keep viewers hooked to their screens, celebrating Welsh culture, heritage, and the universal themes of exploration, creativity, and community spirit. These shows are expected to roll out on BBC Cymru Wales and iPlayer in the coming months, promising a blend of entertainment, insight, and celebration for viewers across the UK.

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