Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Classic drive through

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, February 11, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.

Classic drive through
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Classics In The City.
WHY? Classics In The City is an open air display of classic vehicles visiting Swansea City Centre this weekend. Motorcycles, cars, buses and all manner of other vintage vehicles will be travelling from across Wales to take part in the big event, and they won’t be coming back to Swansea until the summer.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Classics In The City is part of the National Transport Festival of Wales. Past shows have been very successful and they’re lots of fun for anyone with an interest in the history of motoring and classic vesicles. People come from far and wide in all kinds of vehicles to take part in the displays, and in the last year the NTFW have helped to raise over £8,000 for charity with their fantastic displays of classic and modern vehicles.
ANY HISTORY? NTFW events are organised by Ashley Lovering, who did his first show back in 1994 at Swansea Airport. Originally called “Wings and Wheels” the show attracted some 80 vehicles and was successful enough that another show was held the following year at the Quadrant Bus Station. When the show moved to Singleton Hospital it changed its name to the Swansea Festival of Transport. The displays at the hospital were even more successful and helped to raise thousands of pounds for different charities. With the shows continuing to grow each year and much larger vehicles taking part, the festival moved to the County Hall and started using the name the National Transport Festival of Wales to help secure some grant money to help cover the soaring costs of putting on the events.
LOOK OUT FOR? Other National Transport Festival of Wales displays have included London buses, articulated lorries, minis, scooters, and even heavy haulage tractors all on display besides the more conventional classic cars and vans.
WHAT TO TAKE? It doesn’t cost anything to see the vehicles but it is an outdoors display so don’t forget to wrap up warm for the winter weather. Also, make sure you bring a camera to take some photos of you and the family with the classic cars and trucks.
WHEN TO GO? The Classics In The City display will be held tomorrow (Sunday February 12) on Princess Way and Oxford Street in Swansea City Centre. Visitors will be able to see the vehicles between 10.30am and 4.30pm.
TELL ME MORE: You can contact Ashley Lovering by phoning 07814 958379. More information can also be found on the National Transport Festival of Wales website at

Mining our history

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, February 18, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.

Mining our history
A big day out!
The South Wales Miners’ Museum in Afan Forest Park.
WHY? Around the country and throughout the world, South Wales was famous for its mining industry, which provided work for hundreds of families in the area and was vital to the economy of small South Wales communities like the Afan Valley. At the South Wales Miners’ Museum in Afan Forest Park visitors have the chance to take a step back in time and see what life was like for miners and their families through their eyes.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? The South Wales Miners’ Museum celebrates the coal mining industry and its workforce in the South Wales coalfield. The past is brought to life at the museum using a comprehensive collection of photographs, historical artefacts and even life sized models of miners dressed in original gear and equipment.
ANY HISTORY? After mining ceased in the Afan Valley in the 1970s the area faced widespread unemployment and an uncertain future. The original Welsh Miners’ Museum was officially opened in 1976 as part of the effort to rehabilitate the valley in the aftermath of this cataclysm. The first museum of its type in Wales, the main exhibit was a manikin display showing life in a traditional miner’s cottage. There were also document and photo displays showing what life was like for the miners. By the 1980s, however, the portable cabins housing the museum were deteriorating and a new permanent building was needed. Today’s South Wales Miner’s Museum was built in 2008 using funding from Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, Welsh Assembly and other sources.
WHAT TO TAKE? There is a small charges to help with the costs of running the museum. Admissions costs are £2 for adults and just £1 for children. Senior Citizen’s can visit for £1.50 and children under five go free! Hot drinks are available in the café. And make sure you bring a camera so you can take some photographs.
LOOK OUT FOR? Situated close to the museum is a range of outdoor exhibits including a blacksmith shop and lamp room to check out.
WHEN TO GO? Until March you can visit the museum between Tuesday and Sunday from 10.30am to 3.30pm. From Easter and until the end of the summer the museum will be open daily between 10am and 4pm.
TELL ME MORE: The museum is located in the beautiful Afan Valley and is only six miles on the A4107 from the M4. For sat-nav users the address and postcode is: South Wales Miners' Museum, Afan Forest Park, Cynonville, Port Talbot, SA13 3HG. Pre booking is advisable. You can find out more by phoning 01639 851833 or you can go to