Roșia Montană mining firm hit with retaliatory fine

I was on an organised IH trip of Romania last year and one of the locations visited was Roșia Montană, a site of historic mining remains. The village was a former shadow of itself as a Canadian mining firm had commenced the process of buying out the villagers to establish a modern mine in the area.

Thus far, they have not succeeded in doing so and the Guardian reports that the Romanian authorities have slapped a $8.6m tax bill on the company after the latter lodged a compensation claim over the failure to be allowed commence mining.

Britain IH Trip Day 3

For my final day of site visits, I travelled a short distance from Telford to Bridgnorth for the Severn Valley Railway which runs from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth.

I was originally planning to just do a straight return trip, however, the guide on board the train recommended an alternative return journey stopping off at Bewdley and Highley.

Adjacent to Kidderminster station, there is a railway museum with free access. I spent the time between arrival and my return journey here. The return journey back to Bewdley was a short 15 minute stop with instructions to sit in the first three carriages as the platform at Bewdley is short.

The village at Bewdley is an attractive village typical of many English villages with a cut stone bridge over the River Severn.

Returning to the railway, I got the train to Highley to visit the Engine House Museum there. This was mainly steam engines and a history of the Severn Valley Railway.

I returned to Bridgnorth by train and drove to Birmingham for my overnight stay. En route, a car in front of me lost one of its wheels whilst in motion! Fortunately the driver was able to bring his car to a safe stop with no injuries.

Britain IH Trip Day 2

Day 2 of my trip saw me visit the Great Orme Mines. This is a self guided tour through Bronze Age mine workings, only discovered because the area in question was due to be redeveloped as a car park 🙁

The passages in the mine are small, given their age this is to be expected, but the displays are good and explain the process well.

Nearby in the town of Llandudno is the Great Orme Tramway. I found free parking near the base terminus in Llandudno and took the tram to the summit. The tramway is cable hauled and in two sections with the control point and change over from the lower tram to the upper tram located at the Half Way station.

The tram climbs steeply right from the word go as it navigates the streets of Llandudno. At road junctions, the tram signals used to indicate whether or not the tram has permission to cross are identical to those in use on the Luas in Dublin.

Adjacent to the Summit station is the Summit Centre which is a tourist venture that could be found in any seaside resort, selling food and knick knacks.

The final port of call of the day was at the Conwy Valley railway museum. This site, which is located adjacent to Betws y Coed station, has both a small museum of railway artefacts (including a GNR(I) sign) and model railway displays. They also have a passenger carrying miniature railway and an electric tram (the latter is currently out of use due to storm damage).

Whilst traveling on the miniature railway, there was something of a minor incident when a young boy on board with his family decided to hop off the train whilst it was in motion. The driver brought the train to a complete stop whilst the boy’s embarrassed mother made him apologise to the driver for his behaviour!

I overnight in Telford before my final day visiting tomorrow as I make my way to Birmingham.

Britain IH Trip Day 1

First day of another IH roadtrip to Britain (before BREXIT kicks in and all that). This time, I took a red eye ferry to Holyhead (d. Dublin 0155, arrive Holyhead 0530). As it is an overnight, I booked a cabin on the ferry. This was more spacious that I had expected and was complete with own toilet/shower/whb.

I was woken by a cabin announcement that we would shortly be docking in Holyhead, so I left my cabin and made my way back to the reception desk to pick up my car keys.

First stop in Wales was at Blaenau Ffestiniog for breakfast. As I had a couple​ of hours to kill, I set my alarm and went for a snooze in the car.

I arrived at Llechwedd Slate Cavern about 0845 for the 0930 tour. After wandering around above ground for a while, I headed down to the Deep Mine Tour entrance. The Deep Mine Tour takes visitors into the mine by means of an inclined railway, which drops visitors off at an intermediate level. The tour through the mine is done well with audiovisual projections of historic characters onto the rock face in each chamber.

The tour is taken down to a lower level within the mine via 61 steps. The final point in the tour is adjacent to a flooded stope, where the water table is visible and the mine operators have developed a spectacular audiovisual presentation that is projected onto the rock above the water level which, with the echo in the chamber, makes for an impressive experience. The underground tour ends back at the carriage on the incline which is brought down to the lower level to allow for exit at the end of the underground experience.

Above ground the tour ends with a visit to the slate workshop where our guide (Catherine) showed us how slate was split.

For £10, a visit to Llechwedd Deep Mine Tour is definitely worth it.

My second trip of the day was to the nearby Festiniog Railway.* This is a preserved railway which took over the derelict Festiniog Railway Company and restored the line. As there was no provision in the company’s Act of Parliament to abandon the railway, the original company (formed in 1832) remains as the owner of the line, with this owned by the Ffestiniog Railway Trust. There is an Irish connection to Festiniog railway in that the majority of the investors in the company were Irish and the registered office of the company was 41 Dame Street, Dublin.

*The 1832 Act of Parliament setting up the company gave it the title “Festiniog Railway” (one ‘f’) whereas the town name has two ‘f’s.

Chinese replica of the Titanic

At what point does it look like whinging? A Chinese theme park’s plans to include a full size replica of the Titanic has “relatives” of those who died on the original Titanic in 1912 upset.

At this remove from the original event, it is safe to say that there is no-one alive who remembered anyone who died on the Titanic, nor are there any survivors of the Titanic left alive. As such, the emoting (as reported by the BBC) that this is inappropriate is just whinging.

I remain with Jeremy Paxman in holding the view that they should have called it the Iceberg Quarter as without the iceberg, very few people would have heard of the Titanic.