Thursday, November 27, 2008

Milestone for Welshpool

Big day for Welshpool today. I live just six miles away at Berriew. As a child I lived seven miles away at Castle Caereinion. The town grew up on the side of the River Severn and it very much the 'gateway' to Mid Wales. Two other significant features of Welshpool are its proximity to the spectacular Powis Castle, and its livestock market which has served as a gathering point for the farms of central Wales, probably for centuries, where buyers from the English lowlands have come to view the bounty produced from the farmlands of my birth. It has a wonderfully preserved, under exploited cockpit as well. Today, we gathered together on the site where a spanking new livestock market is to be built, where local auctioneers, John Jones and Alan Davies together with Welshpool Town Mayor, Anne Holloway cut the first sod.

It rained. Mr Spencer Cooper, a man of epic tenacity was today's MC. For it was he who put the commercial package together. I hope he makes a few bob out of it. Probably no other person in the universe could have pulled the deal off. The Mayor began the speeches, followed by Lembit Opik, MP for Montgomeryshire, followed by Mark Kerr, Chief Executive of Powys County Council. I wasn't shceduled to speak, but was really pleased when Spencer asked me to chip in at the end. So I did.

I remember Welshpool 'Smithfield' (as we called it), as one of the first two locations to which I was taken from the farm when about 3/4 years old. One was to Borth on Sundays to play sandcastles, and the other was with my father to the 'Smithfield'. Pigs and chickens and ducks and geese were traded in those days. My future grandfather-in-law, Harry Ray, owned one of the firms of auctioneers that worked there. My father had once walked cattle to Welshpool for sale - and walked his purchases home. He was a shortish powerful man who worked incredibly hard to provide for my mother and the six of their children. Hard to believe that he died ten years younger than I am now. My grandfather had transported livestock to Welshpool on the train from Llanfair Caereinion. I almost made myself feel nostalgic.

Reason its a 'Big' day is that this was step one of the redesign of Welshpool. When the new market is finished, a new one way road system will be introduced, followed by major redevelopment of the existing market site, which includes a new Tesco - plus a lot more. This is to be followed by a Council sponsored 'Town Redevelopment Plan'. All of this will be done in the next 2/3 years. Also met Felix Gummer, Corporate Affairs Manager - Wales for Tesco, who had been invited. I want to meet him again for a decent chat. I assume he must be a good man because his father was one of the politicians I most respected. And then we all went for tea, as the giant earth movers got down to work.


JPT said...

A big day for sure - but the proposed one way system I believe is decidedly 'iffy'.

Frank H Little said...

under exploited cockpit
Do you want to bring back bear-baiting as well? ;-)

Glyn Davies said...

JPT - All I'll say is that I don't think the one way system was needed for the re-development to go ahead - but the highways people thought otherwise. I can see that it has a downside for some businesses. But We've reached the stage where the die is cast. We shall now see.

Frank - I meant its tourist potential was under exploited. Its a superb example of a cockpit. I've never considered whether cock fighting should be re-established as a sport. On balance I think not - because cocks are not under threat.

Anonymous said...

did you do adeal with Gummer if Tescos. God help us if the Tories return

Glyn Davies said...

anon - not sure what you're on about. It was the first time I'd met Felix Gummer, and we did little more than exchange pleasantries. I think he shares my interest in the environment, and if we do meet again, I would expect to discuss that rather than anything to do with Tesco.

Sorry but I've had to reject comments relating to one of the guests as being potentially libellous.

Anonymous said...

I am talking about the way you Tory Toffs, hang around with the wealthy corporates and do deals that get you power and them business expansion.
I am talking about Tory sleaze.

frankie said...

Talking of Lembit Glyn - how did you like the little self congratulatory piece in the CT today? I thought of you when reading it. If last weeks CT made your blood boil at the sight of him drinking champers over "single handedly" (that's how it came across) saving Abermule PO, I can just imagine steam coming out of your ears when you read his "Politically Speaking" column.