Golden Cap Association (West Dorset)

a local association of the National Trust

Golden Cap Association (West Dorset)

a local association of the National Trust

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Meeting Isambard Kingdom Brunel

A damp day in October was our second visit to SS Great Britain in Bristol but this time as well as the ship there was the added interest of the brand new Being Brunel Museum.

Brunel was 32 when he launched his first ship in 1838 - SS Great Western, the first steamship purpose-built for crossing the Atlantic; in 1845 when he was 39 years old he launched SS Great Britain, the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic, which it did in 14 days; at the age of 52 he launched SS Great Eastern, dying shortly after the launch. In between times he built a railway, bridges and countless other projects.

On our arrival we were taken straight to the ship where a sandwich and soup lunch was laid on for us. Once this was enjoyed we were free to explore the ship and museum at our leisure.

The museum's aim is to introduce us to the man Brunel and his many interests and skills. Amongst other things he was a keen follower of the arts and loved Shakspear (not a typo). One striking feature of the museum is an enormous reproduction of his head - which can be entered via his ear for a visual presentation of some of the events during the building of the railways as seen through his own eyes, including smoke, smells and loud noises. On exiting the 'head' we entered his 'London Office' and joined in a visual presentation of a debate on whether it was cost effective to build the SS Great Britain.

By spring 1858 Brunel was seriously ill. He may have been suffering from kidney disease. He had a stroke in 1859 while on board the Great Eastern. Dying he was carried home to London but held on for reports of the Great Eastern, on her trial voyage off the south coast of England. He must have been hoping for good news. Instead he heard how one of her boiler feedwater tanks had exploded off Weymouth, damaging the ship and killing three men.

On board SS Great Britain we were able to sit with the great man himself, visit the kitchens and check out the other services available. Around the dockyard the everyday activities were going on as usual.

Another very interesting day and well worth our return visit which can be thoroughly recommended.

Rydym yn archwilio'r Tŷ Dyffryn a gerddi

Or - for those who don't understand Welsh -

We explore Dyffryn House and Gardens

It took us 4 hours to reach Dyffryn in the Vale of Glamorgan by coach and 3 hours to return home - but it was certainly worth it.

Even though there were only a few rooms open to the public in the house there was still plenty to see and the gardens were wonderful. The NT is fortunate in that one of the original owners commissioned paintings of the gardens in their heyday so they have fantastic pictures to guide them as they are gradually restored. Despite being there from 12:30 until 4:30 we didn't see everything especially bearing in mind that we had lunch during that time.

The building is most impressive from the outside and we could see why someone wanted to convert it into a hotel - but, unfortunately, ran out of money so just left it.

The story of Dyffryn dates back to the 7th century. The house was then called the Manor of Worlton and was given to the Bishop Oudaceous of Llandaf. In the 16th century the Button family acquired the manor and the first house was built. The family occupied the estate for a number of generations and the name was changed to Duffryn House.

In 1891 the estate was sold to John Cory, an extremely wealthy coal merchant, who built the present house in 1893. He moved here from Devon with his wife Anne, and two of his four children Florence and Reginald. Reginald was a passionate horticulturalist and collaborated on the garden design with Thomas Mawson. You can still see evidence of the family's vast wealth today - from the 16th century fireplaces to the commissioned stained glass window.

Following Florence’s death in 1937. The estate was purchased by Sir Cennydd Traherne who later leased it to the Glamorgan County Council in 1939. There followed a chequered period of institutional use as a police academy, dog training centre and education conference facility.

The house and gardens are still owned by the Vale of Glamorgan council, but the National Trust took over their maintenance and running in January 2013 on a 50 year lease. A lot of conservation work has been done to the house and gardens by the council and now the NT can build on that work and secure Dyffryn's future.

Our visit started with a buffet lunch and then we were free to explore the magnificent grounds and to check on the work being carried out inside the house - which was found with no floorboards and rewiring etc partially done.

Photos by V Smith, C Senior, K Senior

40 years on the Golden Cap

Not only is this the 40th year of the Golden Cap Association but it is also the 40th Anniversary of the acquisition by the National Trust of the Golden Cap itself and of the Stonebarrow site, formerly an RAF installation . To celebrate the occasion members and NT volunteers were invited to meet on Stonebarrow for an afternoon cream tea followed by a walk around some of the property. And we were thrilled that approximately 100 people accepted the invitation. The afternoon was blessed with glorious sunshine tempered by a cooling sea breeze.

The afternoon events started with short presentations by the current West Dorset General Manager, Hannah Jefferson; the former General Manager, Helen Mann; and the Golden Cap Association Chairman, Gordon Simmons. After the tea, served by the NT staff and assisted by members of the Golden Cap Assoc Social Committee some of the guests were led on a guided walk around the immediate area by two of the NT Rangers.

Photos by V Smith and C Senior

· 14/07/2018 13:26 · CA Senior

Steam and Water in the Sunshine

On a glorious Wednesday in June we ventured on an adventure involving a coach journey to Paignton; a steam train ride to Kingswear; ferry trip on the River Dart to Dartmouth; and culminating with a cruise up the river to Totnes. It was a wonderful relaxing and most enjoyable day with the added bonus of glorious sunshine all the way.

We've made this journey before but it has always been well received by the members and this was not an exception. Chris Walliker's arrangements worked like clockwork and allowed us amble time to enjoy a relaxed meal in Dartford while waiting for our boat.

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