Wednesday, March 01, 2006

St David's Day 2006

Yes, today is the day of the Welsh patron saint. It also marks the opening of the Senedd in Cardiff, the new home of the Welsk Assembly Government. The Senedd is due to be opened at lunchtime by the Queen and she will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. There will be one significant input from Anglesey with a fly past of four Hawk jets from RAF Valley.
But even more significant today is the coming of snow to the island. Because our climate is so mild we do not see much snow, but today it has fallen and Anglesey looks so different. Later I shall be going out with my camera to record the scene at some of our beauty spots. I am looking forward to seeing Bodafon Mountain in the snow.
For those unfamiliar with the location of Anglesey it stands just off the North Wales coast to the west of Snowdonia. I live on the north west coast which is the most northerly point inWales. 62% of the population speak Welsh and, as throughout Wales, all public signs are in both Welsh and English. Thus, when you drive on our roads and approach danger spots you will be warned by a sign in white paint on the road, "Araf, Slow." Where a town or village has an English name the sign will give the Welsh name too. Menai Bridge is Porthaethwy in Welsh.
Thomas Telford was an engineer whose task it was to build a road from London to Ireland. He decided on the route of what is now the A5. Outside Bangor he had the problem of spanning the Menai Strait which he solved by building the Menai Suspension Bridge, the largest of its type when completed. The road then continued in a fairly straight line across Anglesey and across a causeway from Anglesey to Holy Island on which stands the old town of Holyhead or Caergybi. It was not long before Robert Stephenson was tasked with a railway line to cross to Holyhead for transfer of passengers to the ferry to Ireland. This necessitated building the Britannia Bridge just south of the suspension bridge. Here another new type of bridge was constructed. It was a tubular bridge. Huge square tubular sections were lifted into position to carry the railway. Back in the seventies some children accidentally caused the pitch in the tubes to catch fire and the bridge was badly damaged. A new plan evolved where a new rail deck was built, supported by a massive steel arch over the water. It was strong enough to carry a road deck at a higher level and this is now the main route onto Anglesey.
In the last few years the North Wales Expressway, the A55, was extended from the Britannia Bridge across to Holyhead, relieving local traffic and speeding up the journey to the ferry port. This is our only dual carriageway road. The A5025 goes around the north of the island and meets the A5 at Valley (Y Fali) crossroads. This road has a number of places where motorists have been killed. It is a safe road if used with commensurate care but budding racing drivers cause severe problems.
Many small roads and lanes criss cross the island to make most places easy to access. It is when you use these smaller roads then the beauty of Anglesey manifests itself on a big scale. There are wonderful vistas in any direction and a landscape photographer is in his/her element.
On the south of the island we have a racing circuit which is put to continual use by many motorsport enthusiasts. The latest addition to Anglesey is the new pedestrian bridge from the ferry terminal to the centre of Holyhead. It is still unfinished but its shape is obvious and it looks both modern and grand.
Watch this space for historical Anglesey. It is a very ancient place indeed, full of barrows and standing stones!


Blogger Lynne said...

I love your website on "My Anglesey." My research into the geneology of the Welsh parents of my maternal grandmother, Mary Grace Wilkins, revealed that the grandparents of her mother, Lula James Wilkins, came from Angelsey. Lula's paternal grandmother, Ann Hughes, was born in Llanelian around 1794 and married James James in St. Eleth Church in Amlwch on 27 Sept 1818. I visited southeastern Wales back in 1989 and met the father of my brother's wife. He took us on tours of PontyPridd where my grandmother's Dad, Walter Wilkins, was born. I would love to visit Angelsey. Why did you retire there and would you recommend it as a retirement location for an American who is 1/4 Welsh? Thanks for your comments. Lynne McDermott (

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