The Music of Wales

Posted by on Jul 22, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on The Music of Wales

The Music of Wales

There is no doubt that music is part of the Welsh identity. Any national occasion not only has the crowd passionately singing the national anthem but will also see many people turning up early to sing along with a choir, or a group, that has been invited as the pre event warm up.

The tradition of singing emanates from the church with many songs sung in churches around the British Isles that are regarded as Welsh. “Cwm Rhondda”, “Blaenwern”, and “Mor Fawr Wyt ti. Wmv” are sung passionately in churches up and down the Principality every Sunday.

The Treorchy male voice choir

The Welsh folk songs have also proved popular and many of these are seen as Welsh anthems. “Sosban Fach”, “Calon Lan” and “Myfanwy” have successfully made the journey from being folk sings to being regarded as national treasures. “Every Welsh man and woman believe that they have a great voice”, and while this may be a slight overstatement, there is hardly a Welsh ceremony or celebration that goes by without singing playing an important part of the occasion.

The country is often referred to as the “Land of Song” and this title has been passed on with its love of male voice choirs. Two of the most famous choirs are the Morriston Orpheus Choir and the Treorchy Male voice choir who have won man international competitions.

A number of the country’s choirs were established from the mining communities in the 19th century. With very little other social opportunities available, it was a natural path for people to go and sing in the choir after a day at work. It was socially acceptable to be a member of a choir.

Each mining community would also have its own brass band. These bands would meet regularly and also play in competitions against the other local communities. It was from this base that music was installed into the Welsh culture.

In the 20th century a number of individual singers started to emerge going on to become international stars. The opera world saw the emergence of Delme Bryn-Jones and Geraint Evans, and in recent times Bryn Terfel has found success as a classical singer.

The “voice of Wales” Tom Jones

Popular music saw the emergence of Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey with their individual voices selling many records. Bassey is perhaps most recognized as being the voice behind the theme tunes to the James Bond movies “Diamonds are For-ever”, “Goldfinger” and “Moonraker”. Tom Jones has a voice that is recognized around the world. It is so flexible that his range has included singing a wide variety of different genres and he has been selling records for over 60 years. He has sold over 100 million of them with 36 top 40 hits in the UK alone.

Today’s most popular Welsh individual singers are Aled Jones and Katherine Jenkins. Jones started singing as a teenage chorister before entering the classical world. Jenkins has proved to be a success with her soprano voice. She regularly performs operatic arias, musical theatre, popular songs and hymns.

The rock world has also seen the emergence of Welsh performers. The Manic Street Preachers were formed in Caerphilly in 1986 and their success has resulted in them being simply known as the “Manics”. Their success has not been affected by the sad disappearance of their former rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards in 1995. The band has sold more than 10m million albums around the world.

The Stereophonics were formed in 1992 in the village of Cwmaman in the Cynon valley. The band’s first album “Word Gets Around” was an immediate success and from this they went on to become only the 8th British band to have five consecutive number 1 albums. They have also sold over 10 million records and many of their songs are played at international occasions. The single “A Thousand Trees” is now regarded as a Welsh anthem and the group are still going strong today.

Music in Wales is a vital ingredient of the Country’s unique culture.

The Cuisine of Wales

Posted by on Jul 10, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on The Cuisine of Wales

The Cuisine of Wales

Wales is a rich agricultural country. The country has lowland areas near the coastline that had rivers depositing rich alluvium that has resulted in strong soils. Farming in the country is helped by being exposed to the region’s maritime climate that means that crops can grow for long periods and there is never any shortage of rainfall.

These are ideal conditions for the dairy industry and it accounts for 25% of all agricultural revenue. As well as the dairy industry producing an abundance of milk every day, a large quota of it has been used to make the Country’s cheeses. The most famous cheese in Wales is the Caerphilly Cheese which is a white crumbly cheese that was first made for miners to eat down the pit.

Cheddars have been an important Cheese in Wales and in particular for when they are used in Welsh rarebit. This is hot melted cheese mixed with other ingredients and then poured over warm toast. The dish has been served in Wales since 1725.

The Welsh rarebit

The cows in the region contain many breeds that have originated in Wales. Welsh Black Cattle are found and farmed in abundance, with beef production accounting for 23% of all agricultural output. The Welsh however, are known around the world for their sheep. With many of the inland areas being dominated by high land it is hardly surprising that that the country has an estimated 11 million sheep.

Wales is surrounded by coastline and it is of no surprise that many of the country’s top dishes are fish dishes. With so many coastal resorts in the country there are an abundance of fish and chip shops, with cod, place and haddock always being a popular meal. Wales has a national vegetable and it is the Leek. The vegetable as well as being served as a side dish is included in many Welsh recipes, which explains why it is so popular in the nation. The climate is ideal for the growing of vegetables and varieties such as suede and potatoes are grown in abundance.

The Glamorgan sausage is a typical welsh dish that uses local ingredients. There is no meat in the recipe but it contains a mixture of cheese and leeks, which is then covered in breadcrumbs rolled into a sausage shape and then cooked.

The fishing boats in Swansea harbor

Welsh cooking tends to be regional. In the mountains Lamb is used in many dishes. Simple roast Lamb is a favorite but is also used in stews and Shepherd’s pie. One such stew is a Tatws Popty which contains Lamb potatoes and other vegetables. This hearty food is very different from the food that is eaten on the Gower Peninsular.

Gower was so cut off from the other markets in Wales that it produced its own dishes from the ingredients it was able to grow, raise or fish. Game is a particular favorite with rabbit being the main ingredient in the “rabbit casserole with faggots”.

The sheep in the area are farmed on the salt marches. The saline environment gives the lamb a special taste and the same has occurred with the beef that is produced from the same region. Laverbread is made from the seaweed that is washed ashore. It is boiled for hours to form a puree then it is fried.

With the area having a large tidal range it is ideal for the fishing of cockles, crabs, whelks and oysters. These products are bought from the local markets. There are still a number of small fishing boats that venture from Swansea harbor every day. The seas are rich in mackerel, cuttlefish and Sea Bass.

Welsh cakes are an ideal accompaniment with afternoon tea. The cakes are a mixture of flour, lard, currents, eggs, milk and sugar. They are shaped into circles baked in an over and then sprinkle with caster sugar.

Another cake that is popular is Bara Brith. This is similar to a fruit loaf with the ingredients including dried fruits, candied peel, flour, margarine and yeast. The mixture would be soaked in cold tea before being baked.

Wales has a rich natural cuisine.

The Cities and Towns of Wales – Part 3

Posted by on Jul 2, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on The Cities and Towns of Wales – Part 3

The Cities and Towns of Wales – Part 3

The largest settlement on the west coast of Wales is Aberystwyth which has a population of just over 13,000. The town is situated where the Rivers Ystwyth and Rheidol meet before entering the Irish Sea. The town is one of the most isolated settlements with the closest town, Swansea, being a 1 hour 45 minute drive away.

The town is both a university town and a tourist town. The university was established in 1872 and each year 10,000 bodies enroll for the start of the new academic year, which is quite a large percent of the population.

The town grew as a market for the local agricultural community. They would come to town to get the services of a local tradesmen that was available. The opening of the railway in 1864 meant that the town was more accessible and was the start of the Victorian tourist era for the region.

Aberystwyth University

Today Aberystwyth is the administrative center for the county of Ceridigon, with many of the county’s services being organized from Aberystwyth. This has produced a number of jobs for the local population. Barry is the fifth largest settlement in the country with a population of 51,500. It is located on the coast and is just 9 miles south-west of Cardiff. The town had been quite small and then at the end of the 19th century Barry Docks was built and 1913 they had become the largest coal port in the world.

It actually took a lot of Business away from Cardiff Docks as the tidal range in Barry was less than it was in Cardiff. The Barry Railway Company was soon transporting the coal from the inland areas on to the boats moored in the docks. Barry’s 100 population soon grew and Barry developed from a small village into an industrialised town.

Today with the coal industry gone most of the people who live in Barry are employed by the local council, as Barry is the administrative center for the Vale of Glamorgan. Also Barry Island is a tremendous tourist attraction and there are a lot of jobs in the tourist and associated service industries.

Neath is another town that rose rapidly during the industrial revolution and today it has a population of over 50,000. Located as bridging point over the River Neath, the town soon grew as a market town. People were attracted to the crossing point and while they were there they were able to do business with a variety of tradesmen.

Barry Docks

Neath is located around 7 miles inland from Swansea and when the industrial revolution started it was able to take advantage of all of the raw materials that were being mined in the hills. There were iron, steel and tin plate industries that grew up in the town.

Neath benefited from the railways travelling through the city and the town was also well served by a network of canals. When the mining industry collapsed Neath suffered. It has had to adapt to the new economic conditions with industries becoming lighter, and a new dependence being formed on the tourist industry.

There is not a town that has been more dependent on the steel industry than Port Talbot. The town has been home to one of the biggest steel manufacturing plants in the world. It is currently in operation today, and employs 10% of the town’s population of 37,000, yet it always appears to be under threat of closure.

The name derives when the Talbot family in South Wales when they decided to build a port in 1837. The new dock areas took over the villages of Baglan, Margam and Aberafan and it became known as Port Talbot. The name wasn’t official recognized until 1921 when the borough of Port Talbot was created.

At its peak there were 18,000 people employed in the steel industry in Port Talbot, but today it is down to around 4,000. Other industries are being attracted to the area however, such as the world’s largest biomass power station which will produce enough electricity to supply half the homes with power.

Port Talbot is yet another town trying to recreate economic prosperity after years of deindustrialization.

The Tourist Industry in Wales

Posted by on Jun 22, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on The Tourist Industry in Wales

The Tourist Industry in Wales

Then decline of heavy manufacturing in the UK in the late 20th century was experienced no greater than it was in Wales. The with drawl of major employers left whole communities is a downward spiral of economic down turn, and this was particularly the case in the mining towns where the collieries were once the dominant industry.

A lot of these regions have either recovered, or are still in the stages of recovery. They have done this by either regeneration or benefiting from the economic benefits that tourism has brought into the country.

Since the 19th century tourists have been visiting Wales. The seaside towns of Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and Llandudno in the North of the country have been attracting visitors since Victorian times. These resorts were particularly popular with the populations of Manchester and Liverpool as North Wales was easily accessible with the building of the railways.

The beach resort of Llandudno

These were the traditional beach holidays and people flocked to the region as an abundance of small bed and breakfast accommodation made the holidays affordable to young families. After the Second World War the tourist industry on the North Wales coast suffered from the development of international commercial air travel.

People were now looking to expand their horizons. A week’s holiday in Benidorm in Spain could now be as affordable as week in Rhyl, but there was one major difference, the weather. The new destinations guaranteed sunshine and this was something that even the most avid North Wales supporter could not do.

However, while the traditional beach holidays were experiencing a difficult time the regeneration of the old industrial landscape was cleaning up the rest of the country. People were now being attracted to Wales for different reasons other than sand and sun. The culture and history of the country was proving enticing and slowly, but surely, tourism in Wales started to gather momentum.

Even before the beach resorts were created in Wales there were visitors who ventured into the countryside but it wasn’t the mountains they were heading for but the Wye Valley. The beauty of the area was published by William Gilpin in 1782. This resulted in the region being visited by a number of the first tourists into Wales.

The region is today once again popular with tourists as it has been designated an area of outstanding beauty. With it crossing the border with England it is a great location for visitors to go and visit the Welsh towns of Chepstow and Monmouth. Many people who visit Wales make sure at some stage they visit the capital city Cardiff. The city benefits from having a blend of well-kept and maintained historical buildings, with regenerated areas that house modern sports complexes, entertainment venues and retail arcades.

The city attracts sporting visitors as it hosts international football, rugby union and cricket. In fact the Principality stadium is a multi-purpose venue so it is able to support whichever Welsh sport wants to use the arena.

The spectacular sight of Conwy Castle

“Cardiff Castle”, “The National Museum” and “St David’s Hall” are all popular attractions. However there is no more popular museum than “The Museum of Welsh Life”, which attracts more than 600,000 visitors each year. It focuses on Wales’ industrial past and how the country has coped in coming to terms with the regeneration of the region.

The castles in other parts of the country are also popular such as “Caerphilly Castle”, “Caernarfon Castle” and “Conwy Castle”. They were all built by Edward I to consolidate the English conquest of Wales in 1284 and they are all in fine condition proving popular among visitors.

The regeneration of the Lower Swansea Valley has resulted in the area becoming a more popular tourist area. There are many leisure activities available in the waterfront areas, and the nature that is found at the nearby Swansea Bay and Gower Peninsular attracts many people into the region.

Its location also gives visitors the opportunities to visit the old steel towns like Llanelli or even venture further afield into one of the country’s National Parks.

The Cities and Towns of Wales – Part 2

Posted by on Jun 17, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on The Cities and Towns of Wales – Part 2

The Cities and Towns of Wales – Part 2

South Wales has a number of large settlements that have seen big numbers of people concentrating in these areas. The reasons for the growth of these settlements have been variable but many have experienced both good and bad times as the economy in the region has changed.

One of the region’s major towns that has gone through great transformation over the years is Merthyr Tydfil. Situated 23 miles north of Cardiff the population of 63,500 makes it the 4th largest settlement in Wales. There have been times when Merthyr has been the largest urban area in the country.

The industrial landscape of 19th century Merthyr Tydfil

Located in the valley of the River Taff the area had attracted people as it provided a crossing point of the river and it had rich agricultural soils. Even the Romans ventured up the valley to occupy the site. However, it was the discovery of iron ore, limestone and coal on the near-by hill sides at the start of the industrial revolution that saw the start of a period of great prosperity for the town. In 1861 the population reached over 50,000 with there being four big ironworks located in the city.

The location of Merthyr was starting to prove a disadvantage despite the building of the railways linking it the docks at Cardiff. The region was boosted by the discovery of more local coal at the end of the 19th century. By 1911 the town’s population had reached nearly 81,000 but from this point the decline in the local industries resulted in 27,000 men emigrating from the region between 1920 and 1940.

Today the industry is lighter and more jobs have been created in local council opportunities. Merthyr now is visited by tourists as it is has great historical sites, with many buildings having been restored. People also stay in the town when visiting the Brecon Beacons. Swansea is the second largest city in the country with a population of 241,000. It is a coastal city located where the River Tawe meets the Bristol Channel. Just to the north of the city is the River Loughor which flows into the Gower Peninsular.

The rivers flood plain was one of the main reasons for people being first attract into the area with the settlement becoming a trading post. Rich agricultural produce from the region was exchanged for other goods, and the Romans occupied the region.

The coastal city of Swansea

As coal was being discovered in “the valleys” the copper industry grew in Swansea and the city became known as “Copperopolis”. During this period the population grew as people migrated into the area to take advantage of the employment opportunities. As the heavy industries in South Wales have declined this has had a huge effect on the economy of Swansea. The Lower Swansea Valley was particularly affected by waste products, and in 1960 the project to reclaim the land started. This land has now been regenerated and new lighter businesses have been attracted into the region.

The location of the Swansea on the South-West tip of Wales and close to the Gower Peninsular has given the region much needed revenue from the tourist industry. The only working industry that remains from the industrial past is the INCO nickel factory. Swansea is now a pleasant city to live in. The regeneration of the port areas has resulted in top leisure and entertainment facilities being made available to the local population.

St Davids which is found on the Pembrokeshire coast is the smallest city in the United Kingdom with a population of 1,800. It has city status as a result of St Davids Cathedral that is located in the area. Saint David was born just south of the city at St Non’s which is just south of the city. David built a monastery and a church in the 6th century at Rose Vale on the banks of the River Alun. This was given Cathedral status in 519 when David was also made a saint. Over the years the cathedral has been plundered and rebuilt many times.

There are a number of art galleries that are popular in the city as well as the old buildings. The area is very popular for the watersports so attracts a wide variety of visitors.

The Cities and Towns of Wales – Part 1

Posted by on Jun 5, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on The Cities and Towns of Wales – Part 1

The Cities and Towns of Wales – Part 1

Wales is famous for having Cardiff as its Capital City but there are a number of other cities and large towns that have been prominent in the rise of the country and are still important locations in modern day Wales. The sparest area of the country is in the middle which is dominated by the highlands. The only populations tends to be situated in the valley areas and many were created as a result of the minerals that were mined from the hills during the industrial revolution.

The West Coast is also sparsely populated but there are dense populations in fishing villages and ports, which are now popular tourist locations. The south of the country is where the main settlements are distributed and their growth is as a result of the economic boom that the region experienced to the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Wrexham the largest settlement in North Wales

North Wales however, also contains some large towns and influential cities. The largest population in the region is found in Wrexham with a population of just over 61,000, which makes it the 5th largest urban area in the country. It is a town and not a city, and original grew as an agricultural town as a result of being located on the floodplains of the River Gwenfro.

The town grew during the industrial revolution as a result of the discovery of local supplies of coal, the opening of Bersham iron works and the success of the local leather industry. As the town increased in size so did the number of breweries, who were attracted to the area as a result of the quality of the local water.

Many of these original industries have now disappeared and many people are employed in small businesses and also in local government. Wrexham is the center of Wrexham County Borough and has over 100,000 people under its jurisdiction.

The only city in North Wales is Bangor, which is the oldest city in Wales, and with a population of only 18,500 it is one of the smallest cities in the UK. With the University contributing over 10,000 students to the numbers, Bangor is not very big at all.

The regeneration of Rhyl

Bangor first started to grow as a result of a monastery that was built on the site that today contains the cathedral. This was then replaced by Bangor Cathedral which was dedicated to its founder Saint Deiniol. The city is located on the coast of the Menai Strait and faces Anglesey. The region benefits from tourists visiting Snowdonia National Park and the city itself is dwarfed by Bangor Mountain which lies just to the east.

The second largest settlement in the region is Colwyn Bay with a population of over 31,000. Colwyn Bay is a resort town on the north coast and overlooks the Irish Sea. The town is famous for its beach and its pier, and it started to grow during the 19th century as tourism started to become popular during the industrial revolution.

The town also has an important role as an administrative center for the region, with a large number of people being employed in the local services that it provides for the Bay of Colwyn Town Council. Colwyn Bay is in the middle of the North Wales Tourist area and just along the coast to the east is Rhyl.

Rhyl is located at the mouth of the River Clwyd as it enters the Irish Sea. The town has a population of 25,000 which is a mixture of people from Liverpool and Manchester plus the local north Wales population. Rhyl was a popular resort that fell into decline in the 1980s. Since then the town has been regenerated with money from the European Union and the Welsh Government. This has led to the resort becoming once again a popular destination with the patrons of the town benefiting economically with its resurgence.

North Wales is sometimes forgotten when Welsh matters are being discussed, but it is the most nationalistic region of the country having more welsh speakers than anywhere else.

The National Parks in Wales

Posted by on May 29, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on The National Parks in Wales

The National Parks in Wales

The National Parks in Wales were first created in 1951 with the creation of Snowdonia, then in 1952 with the Prembrokeshire Coast, and finally in 1957 the Brecon Beacons were awarded similar status. The timing coincided with the country establishing a more adventurous tourist industry that was now exploring foreign fields, and there was a desire from the government to showcase the natural landscapes that the country possessed.

Snowdonia National Park covers an area of 823 square miles and is located in the North West of Wales. Its highest point is Mount Snowdon itself which stands at a height of 3560 feet, making it the highest point in England and Wales. The park is visited each year by more than 3.5 million visitors and actually has 26,000 people living in the park full time. The area of the park includes more than the Snowdon Massif and includes spreading south into Meirionnydd.

Spectacular views from the Snowdon Mountain Railway

Many people who visit the park wish to see the natural wilderness by hiking around the areas. The Park has produced extensive paths and trails so visitors can safely tour the region. The authorities have also made the summit of Snowdon accessible by the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which takes visitors all of the way to the summit. The numerous lakes in the park host many different water activities including sailing, canoeing and white-water rafting. Fishing is also popular in the highland lake areas with great varieties of fish including pike, trout and even salmon.

The Pembrokeshire National Park covers an area of 243 square miles. It covers the coastal area of South Pembrokeshire plus some inland forests and the surrounding Islands. The area is circumnavigated by the Pembrokeshire Coast Path which was created in 1970 and covers 186 miles. It is part of the Wales Coast Path that covers the other areas of the country. It give walkers a magnificent view of the coastline although it is not a gentle stroll with 35,000 feet of ascent and descent over its route.

The park has some of the finest beaches in Wales many of which have been awarded different clean water awards, plus 39 of its beaches being recommended by the Marine Conservation Society. Many people who visit the area come to see the regions natural flora and fauna. Many of the areas in the park have been untouched by man so they are home to rare ecosystems. Within these are numerous varieties of plant and animal life. The beaches are favorite spots for surfers especially as many of them are fully exposed to the waves of the Atlantic.

Walkers on the Beacons Way path

The Brecon Beacons National Park is the country’s newest park being established in 1957. It stretches from Llandeilo in the west to Hay-on-Wye in the north to Pontypool in the south east which covers an area of 519 square miles. The area is dominated by moorland grazed by Welsh mountain ponies and Welsh mountain sheep. In between the moorland are forest filled valleys with the odd occurrence of pasture.

The region is dominated by rather unpleasant weather and has proved to be an ideal training area for some of Britain’s elite armed forces. Visitors who come into the park are often taking part in outward bound and survival courses. Rock climbing, abseiling and caving are all popular in the dry areas. While the numerous lakes and streams are home to sailing, canoeing and windsurfing.

The Park is home to an abundance of wildlife that are native to this type of environment. This includes a number of birds of Prey that are allowed to hunt and breed in this remote region, without human interference. Red kites, peregrine falcons, ravens and even merlin survive in the park.

In 2005 the Beacons Way path was opened giving the opportunity to hikers to be able to walk its 100 miles from east to west. The park is home to many people who camp out while experiencing the wilderness on offer.

The Capital City of Wales – Cardiff

Posted by on May 28, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on The Capital City of Wales – Cardiff

The Capital City of Wales – Cardiff

Cardiff is the Capital City of Wales and is home to a population of just over 360,000. The city is famed for its sporting venues, its tourist sites, its educational institutions, its retail centers and its entertainment industries. The city is also home to the Welsh National Assembly, which is a devolved parliament that has the power to make legislation in Wales. Archaeological evidence from around the city shows that man has lived in the area since around 6000BC. The city was the location for forts and the Silures, a Celtic tribe were the main occupiers until the Romans arrived. The Romans built a major fort on the mouth of the River Taff and this marked the north-west boundary of what was to become the center of the city.

Cardiff Castle in the heart of the city

The Castle was then refurbished in 1081 by William I the King of England. As time progressed the Castle become the heart of the city and each generation would upkeep the structure. By the end of the 13th century the population had reached 2,000 which although it made it the largest population in Wales it was small compared to many English settlements.

The importance of the city gradually rose slowly as a result of its port and the rich agricultural soils of the surrounding plain. By the end of the 18th century it was only the 25th largest settlement in Wales, but then at the start of the 19th century the docks were rebuilt. This coincided with the discovery of coal and iron ore in the valleys. The docks were linked to the raw materials by the Taff Vale Railway and soon the port was flourishing with much traffic coming in and out of the docks, including a twice weekly passenger service to Bristol.

The industrial revolution resulted in much migration into Cardiff of people from England as they came looking for work. In 1841 a quarter of the town’s population had been born in England, and by 1881 it was once again the largest settlement in Wales.

The developed bay area of Cardiff

Although the docks were competing against the new port at Barry for the coal trade, the coal industry still kept its administration headquarters in the town. The building of the steel works closes to the harbor in 1891 maintained Cardiff’s strong economic position. During this period educational establishments and national institutions started to locate in the town and its industrial base became more varied. In 1956 it was given city status and was made the Capital of Wales.

When South Wales was hit by the economic recession caused by the shutting down of the areas coal and iron ore mines, Cardiff like all of its settlements suffered but not to the same extent. There was already a wider economic base in place and its administrative role as the Capital City provided many jobs in the City. In recent times there have been many developments carried out that have seen the older industrial areas regenerated, The city has been gradually transformed into one of Europe’s most attractive city’s and this is reflected by the 18.1 million tourists it attracts each year.

One of the biggest blows the city suffered was the closing of its steel works in 1978 and this led to the City losing population in the 1980s. However, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation was created and this led to the regeneration of the Bay area. New employment opportunities were provided and the area has been area cleaned up to such an extent that it is now a site for many leisure activities.

Cardiff is today a bustling and thriving city. It has a popular shopping area, it is home to many museums and galleries, there a number of venues for musical and theatrical productions and there have been a number of new sports stadiums that have been built, with the Principality Stadium being one of the most popular sporting venues in the world. Residents of the city can now watch international football, rugby and cricket all within a stone’s throw away from the heart of Cardiff. It is currently one of the most popular cities in the United Kingdom to reside in.

The Other Sports of Wales – Part 2

Posted by on May 12, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on The Other Sports of Wales – Part 2

The Other Sports of Wales – Part 2

The Welsh have always produced top athletes and there is not an international competition taking place that does not have a host of Welsh athletes representing Great Britain. One of the most famous athletes to have represented Wales and Great Britain was Lynn “the Leap” Davies. At the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Davies jumped 8.07 meters to win the gold medal in the long jump. In the same games he also took part in the 100 meters and the 4 x 100 meters relay. In his career he also became the European Champion in 1966 and twice won the Commonwealth gold medal.

Colin Jackson in action

One of Wales’ most recognizable sporting faces is Colin Jackson who is now one of the main presenters on BBC athletics coverage. Jackson’s athletics career was running the Hurdles event, competing in the 110 meters hurdles outside and the 60 meters distance indoors.

His personal best time of 12.91 seconds for the outdoor event was the world record time for over a decade, and he still holds the world’s best time for the indoor race. He won the World Championships twice and over a period of 12 years was undefeated at European Championships. He won a silver at the 1988 in Seoul but it was unfortunate that he never won an Olympic Gold. Another hurdler who also won the world Championships was Dai Green who ran the event over 400 meters. There was a period in his career between 2010 and 2011 where he was simply the best hurdler in the world. Over this 16 month period he became the European, Diamond League and Commonwealth Champion as well as having his World Championship success.

In 1984 Welshman Steve Jones broke the world marathon record in Chicago by running a time of 2 hours 8 minutes and 5 seconds. It was his first marathon that he had completed and he had no idea he had broken the record, as he never wore a watch when he raced.

The following year he went onto win the London Marathon, and later in 1985 he won the Chicago marathon for a second time when he won the race in a time of 2 hours 7 minutes and 13 seconds, which remains the British record today. Also in 1985 he broke the world record for the half marathon if a time 61 minutes and 14 seconds when winning in Birmingham.

Joe Calzaghe with his championship belts

Very few boxers go through their career undefeated, but one Welshman did so and he did it in the most understated manner. Joe Calzaghe won all 46 of his fights that he took part in during his 16 year career, of which half were world championship contests. He has been described as the best super-middleweight boxer of all time. His last two fights were in the States but the majority of his contests were held in Wales. This created huge national interest and he was simply unbeatable when fighting in Cardiff at the National Stadium with the country behind him. The downside was that he never got the recognition he deserved from the American boxing fraternity as they did not see enough of him.

The dangers of boxing were tragically brought to the attention of sports fans around the world with the death of Johnny Owen in 1980. Owen was a bantamweight and his sleight frame earned him the nickname of “the Merthyr Matchstick”. The start of his career saw him wining the European and commonwealth titles and on 19th September 1980 he challenged the Mexican Lupe Pintor for the World title in Los Angeles. Despite taking a lead in the early rounds Owen was knocked unconscious in the 12th round, and he never regained consciousness being pronounced dead seven weeks later.

Two of the country’s most famous sportsman achieved great success in the world of equestrian in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. David Broome who was born in Cardiff represented Britain if five Olympic Games and was voted the BBC’s Sports Personality of the year in 1960 after winning a bronze at the Olympic Games.

At many of the events he participated in one of his main rivals was his fellow country man Richard Meade who was born in Chepstow. Meade won three Olympic gold medals plus five world championship medals, which included two gold’s. Meade was regarded as the better horseman but putting these two together gave Britain a great team.

The Other Sports in Wales – Part 1

Posted by on Apr 20, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on The Other Sports in Wales – Part 1

The Other Sports in Wales – Part 1

Despite Wales being known around the world for the passion of its rugby union, it is not the only sport that is played and followed in this sport mad nation. Wales regularly produces international sports men of the highest caliber, and while the national team may not be able to compete with the very best international sides, those individual players are held in the highest regard. One such sportsman is Ryan Giggs who played football for Wales on 64 occasions scoring 12 times. He is however,best remembered for his club career with Manchester United. In over 15 seasons he played 672 times scoring 114 goals.

Gareth Bale speaking with Ryan Giggs

During this period the side won the league title on 13 occasions and the European Champions League twice, plus many other domestic trophies. His contribution was recognized by being named as the PFA player of the year, and also captaining the side on many occasions.

Gareth Bale is the player today in Wales who as well as representing the nation, is seen as one of the best players in the world. In the last 5 seasons he has been playing in Spain for Real Madrid where he has scored 62 goals in 118 appearances during a period of great success for the Spanish giants. He started his career with Southampton, but he made his name at Tottenham Hotspurs, where he scored 42 goals from 146 appearances. During his time with the national side he has been the inspiration behind many of their performances, and he has scored 26 times in the 68 caps that he has won.

Swansea are the only club who play their football in England’s Premier League. For years they used to play their home games at the Vetch Field but in 2003 they relocated to the newly built all-seat Liberty Stadium. The ground hold 21,000 spectators but the passion of the home fans is one of the reasons why the side has been in the Premiership for the last 7 seasons.

Matthew Maynard with the 1997 Championship trophy

If anyone doubts the popularity of football in Wales then they must visit a match between Swansea and their local rivals Cardiff City. Cardiff has also recently located to a new stadium, moving in 2009 from their old Ninian Park Ground to the 33,000 all-seat Cardiff City Stadium. The side are currently in second place in the Championship as they chase promotion into the Premier League. The owners and supporters of the club truly believe that they are a premiership side waiting to rightfully return to the top league. Their rivalry with their Swansea neighbors is intense.

The main summer sport in Wales is cricket with Glamorgan being Wales’ sole representatives in the County Championship. They play their home games at Sophia Gardens which is located in Cardiff. The Ground has recently undergone intensive redevelopment, and is now a test match venue for England’s home games. The county team are currently in division 2 of the championship but have an illustrious history. They have won the county championship on 3 occasions with their last one occurring in 1997 under the captaincy of Matthew Maynard who also represented England.

Another player who also appeared in test match cricket was Robert Croft. He played 21 times for England, primarily as an off spinner in which he took 49 wickets. In his career for the Welsh county he played in 407 first class matches taking 1,175 wickets. In 1969 when the county won the County Championship they were captained by Tony Lewis. He went on the become the only player from Glamorgan to captain England which he did so on 8 occasions. In his career for Glamorgan he played 409 first class matches and scored a total of nearly 21,000 runs.

Glamorgan are one of the best supported sides in county cricket and this reflects the popularity of the sport in Wales.