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"Countryside most beautiful, but on rather a large scale for getting about."
"Welsh seem a pleasant intelligent race but I should think awkward to live with. The children exceedingly pretty, black or red, with clear complexions and bright blue eyes. The middle-aged are very plain but the old people are better. The language is past description."

[edit] Royal visitors

The Prince and Princess of Wales and other members of the royal family visited Machynlleth between 25 June and 27 June 1896, the town celebrated Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in June 1897, and Queen Victoria visited on 24 August 1889. King George V and Queen Mary, the Prince of Wales and Princess Mary all visited Machynlleth in June 1911.

[edit] Ted Lewis

Ted Lewis, a 1901 baseball star and American educationalist, was born in Machynlleth on 25 December 1872 and, at the age of eight, emigrated with his family to the USA, to settle in Utica, New York. He entered Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1893 and found popularity through his prowess as a baseball pitcher.

[edit] Berta Ruck and Oliver Onions

Writer and novelist Berta Ruck (18791978) grew up at Esgair, near Pantperthog, had close family connections with Pantlludw, in the foothills just to the north of Machynlleth and, from the 1950s, lived in Aberdyfi. She was a prolific writer, publishing more than 100 books over the course of her long life, including a large number of novels and her family history, in various volumes from 1967. Her aunt Amy was married to Charles Darwin's son, Frank. Her husband, well-known ghost story writer Oliver Onions (18731961), wrote many such books, but one in particular — The Beckoning Fair One — is apparently considered by many to be the best ghost story ever written. He pronounced his name "Own-EYE-ons", but this must still have worried him, because he later changed his name to George Oliver, reportedly to spare his children any embarrassment. The University of Delaware Library's Special Collections Department holds Berta's 192837 travel journals.

[edit] Sir John Philip Baxter FAA, FTSE

John Philip Baxter was born in Machynlleth in 1905. After obtaining his BSc and PhD at Birmingham University he pursued a career in the UK chemical industry until 1949, when he emigrated to Australia. He took up the post of Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of New South Wales, becoming Vice-Chancellor in 1955. He was Chairman of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission from 1957 until 1972. He was awarded the OBE in 1945, CMG in 1959 and KBE in 1965. He died in 1989.

[edit] N.C. Hunter

Playwright N.C. Hunter was a latter day tenant of Pantlludw, who apparently did much of his writing during his time there. Very successful during the 1950s and early 1960s he wrote, among other plays:

He died in 1971, and is buried in the little chapel in Eglwysfach, a few miles down the road

[edit] Walter Wilkinson

Wilkinson wrote a series of books before and after the Second World War recounting his travels through the country, pushing his puppet show on a barrow, and his books depicting this lost world have something of a minor cult status. In his 1948 book Puppets in Wales (published by Geoffrey Bles, London), he devotes a whole page just to trying to pronounce "Machynlleth", recounts how he tried to get a newspaper from Smith's and then from the corner shop. He found the tobacconist's shop a melancholy sight as it had no stock, rather liked the "ancient elixirs, nostrums and cure-alls" in the chemist's, and admitted to growing fond of the town, with the "simple dignity of its tree-planted, wide streets, grey houses and inns, [and] of the glimpses of the green hills between the buildings".

Despite the fact that "everybody was hopping about, getting in and out of buses, mounting or dismounting from bicycles, going in and out of shops, and the traffic constable danced a ballet" (traffic constable? - it'd take a brave constable to step in front of the traffic these days) he suspected that you could have a very pleasant country-town holiday in Machynlleth - and that is still very true.

He left the town via "a crumbling bridge over the River Dovey, …where kine were standing in the water", and in some ways it's a relief that this, at least, hasn't changed since his time.

[edit] Emrys James

The actor Emrys James was born in Machynlleth and lived at 46 Maengwyn St during his childhood, where today there's a commemorative plaque. He attended Machynlleth County School during the 1940s, where he was noticed for his acting talent, and from there he went on to become a professional actor. He appeared on television as early as 1960 but, by 1968, had joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, staying with them until 1984. During his years with the RSC he also appeared in many TV drama productions, and made two appearances in Doctor Who, something to which all serious British actors aspired. TV and film work seems to have rolled in right through the 1970s and 1980s, and he also took part in a remake of Dylan Thomas's radio play Under Milk Wood in 1988. He died a year later.

[edit] David Sydney Thomas

Syd Thomas, as he is commonly known, is Machynlleth's most successful sporting son. He was spotted by London football scouts playing for the town side in his teens and signed professional forms in 1937. World War II started just as he was breaking into the first team and whilst he represented several London teams in the war years, he was robbed of several years of football. He was a regular on the right wing from 1946 onwards and played for Wales on four occasions. Everton were rumoured to be buying him yet Syd found himself moving to Bristol City in 1950. He won Bristol's Sportmans of the Year award in his first season but was then unlucky for the second and final time in his career when TB struck him down for a long period.

He returned to Machynlleth village life, running the bakery and town foodstore right through until the 1980s when he retired. His son Clive also showed promise as a footballer though decided to pursue his preferred hobbies of ballet and sewing. As of 2007, Syd still lives in Machynlleth to this day, fit and well.

[edit] Tourism

From 1995 until 2006, Celtica showcased Celtic life using audio-visual displays and exhibitions. Often hyped as having significant cultural importance, it always suffered from poor visitor numbers which ultimately forced its closure. Powys County Council are responsible for deciding what will become of the large mansion-style building gifted to the people of Machynlleth, but talk around town is that it will probably become a new set of council offices.

Even with the current closure of Celtica the primary employment sector remains tourism with a wide range of activity based attractions (for example several mountain bike trails) as well as visitor centres (Centre for Alternative Technology). Agriculture clearly continues to play a significant part in the make-up of the town and surrounding area as well. Another important local industry and employer is the renewable energy sector. The area now has a rapidly-expanding renewable energy industry with several small to medium sized companies now operating in or around the town.

The town has a large market on Wednesdays which appeals to both locals and tourists. The Wales Museum of Modern Art, MOMA, presents lunchtime talks and performances on market days.

[edit] External links

Preceding station Heritage Railways  Heritage railways Following station
Terminus   Corris Railway   Ffridd Gate

(Source: Wikipedia)
 
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