£300,000 grant to revive Tywi estuary ferry crossing



Plans to revive an ancient ferry crossing in Carmarthenshire have received a cash boost of £300,000.

The Coastal Communities grant has been awarded to a group which wants to restore the service between Ferryside and Llansteffan.

The crossing dates back 1,000 years and was a favourite with 19th and early 20th Century tourists from the south Wales valleys during “miners fortnight”.

It was discontinued in the 1950s.

This left walkers and cyclists facing an 18 mile (29km) round trip up the estuary.

The grant will allow the group to build a “bespoke amphibious ferry boat” fitted with retractable wheels like an aircraft, to avoid the need for a jetty.

It will initially run daily for eight and a half months of the year, with the aim of an all year-round service in the future.

The project will create five jobs, including two skippers and mates and administrative posts, and it is hoped the ferry will start operating next year.

Speaking on Good Morning Wales, Les Jones from Carmarthen Bay Ferries said the Tywi estuary was a difficult place to run a ferry due to “a very high tidal range, strong currents and shifting sand banks”.

He said they had looked at using a conventional boat, but would need to “improve the jetty in Ferryside and build an extremely long one in Llansteffan”.

He said the amphibious boat “will be driven on land and will perform as a very fast motorboat when on the water”.

It is being designed by a company in Solva, Pembrokeshire.

Rob Bamford, also from Carmarthen Bay Ferries, said they surveyed both communities and found that “there was a good interest for using a ferry if one was in place”.

He said it would “bring the communities together” for both locals and tourists, and offer excursions.

The idea was the brainchild of retired Liverpool University professor Kenton Morgan.

He previously said: “It’s known there are 400,000 annual visitors to Cefn Sidan beach just along the coast, and tens of thousands of visitors to Llansteffan Castle, Ferryside Castle and Laugharne, with its Dylan Thomas links.

“If the plan is approved, the ferry itself will become a tourist attraction.”

Digital Past 2018

Celebrating ten years of new
technologies in heritage, interpretation and outreach

7 – 8 February 2018

Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Digital Past is a two-day conference which showcases innovative digital technologies for data capture, interpretation and dissemination of heritage sites and artefacts.

As this year marks Digital Past’s 10th anniversary, we will reflect on the exciting developments over ten years of digital heritage, the lessons learnt, and the opportunities and challenges for the sector in the decade ahead.

Digital Past 2018 will be held in the award-winning Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales’s largest arts centre with stunning views over the historic market town and resort – also a lively university town – and Cardigan Bay. Aberystwyth, the ‘Biarritz of Wales’, sits at the heart of the beautiful west Wales coastline, conveniently located on the mainline Cambrian Line railway.

The conference will offer a combination of papers, hands-on workshops and demonstrations to investigate the latest technical survey and interpretation techniques and their practical application in heritage interpretation, education and conservation.

Call for contributions

We are seeking submissions from those working on innovative projects on the themes outlined below in a research or operational capacity, who can contribute to this both retrospective and forward-looking conference. Contributions can be made through formal presentations or workshops, or more informally through the ‘unconference’ session or a show stand. We welcome contributions through the medium of Welsh, English, or bilingually. Please find details of the various formats below.

Themes and topics

The two main strands of the conference will be Digital Technologies and Digital Heritage, which may encompass digital survey (Terrestrial Scanning, Geo-physics, LiDAR, Photogrammetry, UAV’s, etc.), data processing, manipulation and analysis (including GIS & BIM), data storage and archiving, 3D modelling and reconstruction, visualisation and animation, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, gaming, immersive environments, 3D printing, e-publication, crowd sourcing, communities, education, engagement, interpretation and tourism.

As this is the 10th Digital Past conference, we are also seeking papers that take both a celebratory and critical look at the developments over ten years of digital heritage, the lessons learnt, and the opportunities and challenges for the sector in the decade ahead.

Other topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Effects of digital technologies on equality, diversity and accessibility of the heritage sector;
  • Implications of digital/innovative requirements by funding bodies;
  • Implications of Brexit on funding of, and cooperation in, digital technologies;
  • Implications of austerity on technological innovation and development
  • Implications of bilingualism on digital platforms.


20 minute papers presented in a conventional arrangement of presentation and PowerPoint format. Each session will consist of 4 such papers, with a 10 minute question and discussion period at the end of each session. Due to the tightly packed schedule, a strict adherence to time will be followed.


To be held on the morning of the 8 February. Workshops can offer practical, hands-on demonstrations or training in a particular aspect of digital technology with heritage applications. Workshops may be either a single session of 90 minutes or two of 40 minutes.

To make a submission for any of the above, please send a short outline (100-150 words) of your proposed presentation/seminar discussion/workshop to digitalpast@rcahmw.gov.uk together with details of your name and organisation.

‘Unconference’ session

A series of 15 minute sessions which can be booked by any delegate attending on a first-come, first-served basis. Booking will be available from 9.30am on the first day of the conference only. These sessions will allow for presentation on any project, research or issue relating to the use of digital technology in heritage. Presentations may be pre-prepared using PowerPoint, or purely in response to other discussions/issues raised during the event.


A limited number of exhibition stands will be available for a two-day booking. Larger stands are available at a cost of £215 or a Poster stand at a cost of £165 and include the cost of one conference registration (prices are not subject to VAT). Booking will be available when conference registration is opened.

Deadline for submissions

The deadline for the submission of papers, seminars and workshops is Friday 29 September 2017. Decisions will be made after consideration of the merits of the individual submissions and their fit into the overall programme, and applicants notified by Friday 13 October 2017.

Free registration for the event will be extended to those presenting a paper or workshop. Please note that while we are happy to have submissions which include more than one speaker, we can only offer one free registration per submission. We regret that no further expenses can be offered.

We welcome contributions through the medium of Welsh or English, or bilingually.

For overseas applicants, presentation of papers via live-web streaming may be considered.

For further information or any questions please contact Susan Fielding at digitalpast@rcahmw.gov.uk or on 01970 621219.

The Digital Past Team


Anglesey mine with metal deposits worth £206m could reopen


A long-closed Anglesey mine that has deposits of gold and other metals worth about £206.5m could be reopened, a report has said.

There have been a number of attempts to restart work at Parys Mountain, which closed almost a century ago.

Its owner Anglesey Mining commissioned a scoping report, which estimated values of zinc, silver and copper.

The company called it a “viable project” and is now looking for financial backers to help restart work.

It would cost $53m (£40.5m) to reopen the site for mining 1,000 tonnes a day for eight years, the scoping report says.

The estimated annual output would be 14,000 tonnes of zinc, 7,200 tonnes of lead and 4,000 tonnes of copper, while gold would also be recovered.

This would provide metals worth US$270m (£206.5m).

120 jobs

Mining at the site is thought to date back to the Bronze Age and it yielded more than 300,000 tonnes before its closure.

In 2006, Anglesey Mining planned to sell shares to pay for a feasibility study to reopen the site.

Two years later it was nearly sold to an Australian mining company but the deal fell through.

Anglesey Mining’s chief executive Bill Hooley believes the project now has fresh impetus, saying: “We think there is support for us. There is a shortage of zinc in world market.”

The company has had planning permission since 1990 and Mr Hooley believes about 120 jobs could be created.

Swansea High Street: new project to gather memories of its vibrant history

Connected Communities Project – News


Swansea High Street: new project to gather memories of its vibrant history

A new collaborative project has been launched to explore and celebrate the rich history of one of Swansea’s most famous streets, High Street. Swansea Scenes – Cymraeg.

Led by Music Art Digital Swansea and supported by Swansea University’s Connected Communities Programme and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Swansea Scenes oral history project will focus on uncovering and documenting the history of the communities who have used the social spaces of High Street since the 1800s – from music halls and Wales’ first cinema, to Wales’ first gay club and live music pubs. 

The memories and materials gathered by the Swansea Scenes project will be detailed in a feature-length documentary film, a digital archive, and a virtual museum located at various places across the city, using the latest technology to provide spaces with digital content that is linked to a specific geographical area.

The project will feature some of High Street’s best-known buildings:

The Grade II-listed Palace Theatre was built in 1888 and hosted the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Morecambe and Wise, and was the site of Oscar-winner Sir Anthony Hopkins’s first stage appearance in 1960. The iconic building has had a chequered existence, being used as a theatre, cinema, makeshift morgue during the Blitz, a gay nightclub, bingo hall, and a dance club in the 90s. It was also the first venue in Swansea to show moving pictures.

The Elysium Building opened in 1914 as a cinema on one level and a club for the town’s working men on another. It also contained a ballroom and a ladies reading room. The cinema closed in 1960, with the whole building eventually closing 1994. It remains derelict to this day.

The Bush Hotel, a Grade II listed Georgian building, was used by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century, after horse racing at Crymlyn Burrows. In 1804 investors met at The Bush to discuss establishing the Mumbles train, and it is said to be the last Swansea pub in which Dylan Thomas drank before leaving for the USA. The building has now been demolished.

Working in collaboration with the Connected Communities Project, Swansea Scenes will look to train a core team of 15 local volunteers in heritage, oral history, filmmaking and digital design and development.

The Swansea Scenes project forms part of the Connected Communities Programme that researches and celebrates the history of communities across the Swansea Valley, and has been developed by at the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH) and the history department at Swansea University.

Please visit the Connected Communities website above or visit the project on Facebook for more information: @SwanseaScenes.

Best wishes,

Kate Spiller
Impact and Engagement Officer | Swyddog Effaith ac Ymgysylltu
Research Hub for Arts, Humanities and Law | Canolfan Ymchwil y Celfyddydau, y Dyniaethau a’r Gyfraith
Research, Engagement and Innovation Services | Gwasanaethau Ymchwil, Ymgysylltu ac Arloesi

Swansea University | Prifysgol Abertawe

Direct Tel | Ffon Uniongyrchol +44 (0)1792 606587
Email | Ebost k.spiller@swansea.ac.uk

www.swansea.ac.uk | www.abertawe.ac.uk

Ancient Carmarthenshire ferry crossing could be revived


9 March 2017

Almost 1,000 years after it was described by chronicler Gerald of Wales, a ferry could once again be crossing the Tywi estuary in Carmarthenshire.

The service between Ferryside and Llansteffan was a favourite with 19th and early 20th Century tourists from the south Wales valleys during “miners’ fortnight”.

But it was discontinued during the 1950s, leaving walkers and cyclists facing an 18 mile (29km) round trip up the estuary.

On Thursday, the plans were submitted to the Coastal Communities Fund for a purpose-built boat which could be plying the route again within two years.

The idea is the brainchild of retired Liverpool University professor Kenton Morgan.

He said: “It’s known there are 400,000 annual visitors to Cefn Sidan beach just along the coast, and tens of thousands of visitors to Llansteffan Castle, Ferryside Castle and Laugharne, with its Dylan Thomas links.

“If the plan is approved, the ferry itself will become a tourist attraction.”

As the name suggests, the settlement of Ferryside developed around the landing stage of a ferry across the Tywi estuary which may have pre-dated the Norman Conquest.

Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph
Image caption Ferryside beach looking towards Llansteffan

It is mentioned as early as 1170 when it was granted to the Knights Hospitaller at Slebech Commandery, and was crossed by Gerald of Wales two decades later.

However, with the second-highest tidal range in the UK, crossing the estuary is not without its difficulties.

A conventional boat would require a 820ft (250 metre)-long jetty, owing to the slope of the beach.

To overcome this the group behind the scheme has chosen an amphibious craft, using technology developed by a New Zealand company.

The ferry would be fitted with retractable wheels like an aircraft, which would avoid the need for a jetty.

If successful, the boat would be built in Solva in Pembrokeshire.

Two public meetings have been held and backing has been secured from both the community and county councils.

An initial outline of the plan has been submitted to the Coastal Communities Fund and the next stage will be to submit a full proposal and business plan.

Swansea to Pontarddulais Train Journey on Film 1964


Record of one of the last train rides – on the “old puff puff” – from Swansea’s Victoria Station to Pontardulais. The line was closed soon afterwards, part of the reshaping of the railway system undertaken by Dr Beeching, chair of the British Railways Board. The footage was shot by Swansea’s Borough Librarian, Leslie M Rees, and his deputy, with Mr Rees later providing a commentary (he happens to mention that the jail, seen in passing, has an excellent branch library). 

This line ran from Swansea Victoria to Pontardulais, calling at Swansea Bay, Mumbles Road, both Killay and Dunvant at one time, Gowerton, Gorseinon and Grovesend. Once the Beeching axe struck, the train ran simply from Swansea to Gowerton and on to Llanelli and from Llanelli to Pontarddulais via Bynea and Llangennech. The ‘new face of British Railways’ is seen – a diesel train (“not half so romantic as the old puff puff”) heading for Shrewsbury, few passengers embarking or disembarking. “Of course”, comments Mr Rees, “that probably is the reason why all these trains are being taken off, we just don’t use them.” 

National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales preserves and celebrates the sound and moving image heritage of Wales, making it accessible to a wide range of users for enjoyment and learning. Its film collection reflects every aspect of the nation’s social, cultural and working life across the 20th century, giving a fascinating insight into Welsh filmmaking, both amateur and professional.