Annual General Meeting
The AGM will be held as a public meeting as usual, on February 25th at 7.00 in the Institute (Cambrian Pill Depot) in Tremadog. This is our tenth AGM!
There will be a brief review of the decade - our achievements and otherwise. We will also look forward to the projects in hand. Trustees rely on the AGM to hear what residents of Tremadog and other supporters feel about the trust's work, and what they would like us to do. So, please come to ask questions, to make suggestions, to offer your services or to support us in any other way.
The former Saint Mary's - the latest hurdle
Local property values
One of the requirements of the Architectural Heritage Fund, the body that supports Building Preservation Trusts with loans and grants, is that we provide them with an independent valuation of the building after repair. They then lend up to 70% of this value as working capital until the project is complete. We have known for a long time that the building will only just be able to earn its keep after repair, because the rents locally are so low. The independent valuation recently obtained by the trustees confirms the likely rents. However, it shows also that a consequence of the low rents is that the likely sale value of the church, after repair and conversion will be only £ 52,500, though repair and conversion might cost £250,000.
Working capital for the building contract
This means that the maximum working capital the AHF could lend is just over f 36,000. The trust could find itself having to borrow significant sums of money in order to pay the contractors each month, since grants from Cadw and the Heritage Lottery Fund taking many months to draw down. The AHF has asked us to identify other sources of working capital, and to supply a cash-flow. So, the latest hurdle is to find additional working capital in the form of deferred payment loans at zero or very low interest, and to prepare a cash-flow.
Only once we can show that we have this cashflow sorted out, will the AHF release to us the grant first offered two years ago. The trust is reliant on this grant to commission essential further work from the architect and the Quantity Surveyor, to prepare the applications for Planning & Listed Building Consents, and information for grant applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cadw.
Repatriating Madocks' remains
William Alexander Madocks died suddenly in 1828 in Paris, on his way home to Wales from a visit to Italy. He was buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery. ln October 2001, on visiting Pere Lachaise, I discovered that the administration of Pere Lachaise is in the process of declaring the burial plot redundant and reclaiming it. because it is abandoned. (A tree has grown through it and the head stone and railings have collapsed.) They will place any mortal remains in a pot and keep them in their ossuary. The trustees have decided that Madocks' remains should be brought home, and reburied in the churchyard of the little Town he founded over two hundred years ago. Pere Lachaise and the Home Office have confirmed that this is permissible. Pere Lachaise want consent from his descendants, or evidence that there are none.
Tracing Madocks' descendants
Gina Kent of Rhyd Ddu has kindly volunteered to start the hunt for descendants. We know that Madocks' only child, Eliza Anne Maria Ermine, had two sons, Francis William Alexander Roche and John Edward Fitz-Mauriçe Hughes Roche. Francis was married in 1890, but we do not know if he or his brother had any children.
If anyone has any information please contact us. We want to arrange the return of Madocks' remains this year. perhaps with a group of residents and supporters going from Tremadog to Paris to fetch them.
The Community Appraisal (Arolwg Bro) is to be launched publicly at last! Gwynedd Council's Community Development Officer, Medwen Edwards has confirmed that the report setting out the Findings of the Appraisal will be presented at a public meeting in Tremadog on February 6th, at 7.00 in the Institute.
Cyfeillion Cadw Tremadog will be represented at the meeting to take part in the discussions. We hope that there will be ways in which the historic assets of the village can be given new life by serving the present and future needs of residents and visitors.
Cadw has agreed in principal to support the Townscheme proposals submitted by Gwynedd Councils though some fine-tuning is required. The next step will be to persuade Gwynedd Council that a Townscheme will be of real benefit in economic terms when weighted against competing bids for capital.
Value for money
Experience elsewhere in Gwynedd shows that the 25% grant put in by the local authority brings in a further 75%; 25% from Cadw, and 50% from the property owner. However the real benefit comes after repairs, when property values rise, and visitor numbers and their spending increase. Why would any visitor linger in a street covered in bland pebbledash, and replacement windows? Why would anyone but a slum landlord invest in it? lt looks like every "modernised'' terrace from Kent to Cumbria. However, go to Dolgellau and wander round the old town. Go to Aberdyfi and look at the recently repaired seafront houses. These are
both towns in which Townschemes have been operating for a number of years, slowly pushing back the damage caused by neglect, piecemeal alteration and under-funding. Even in difficult economic times, the rate of deterioration has been slowed and in some parts of towns reversed.
The Wales Tourist Board now recognises "cultural tourism'' as one of the main themes by which to promote Wales. There is scope therefore for additional partnership funding from this direction. So , contact your local Councillor on Gwynedd Council to ensure that in the forthcoming allocation of funding, the true potential of our best historic towns and villages is given due weight.
One note of caution. Townschemes need to operate for a number of years: take-up in the first year is always very low, so the mechanisms need to be geared to allow for a slow start, and slippage in draw-down over the winter. The British weather is not synchronised with the financial year!
Over Christmas, I have been reading Alltud Eifion's "Gestiana". Alltud Eifon was the bardic name of Robert Isaac Jones, poet historian and printer whose house and printmg works is now the Memorial Hall.
He records that the original organ in Tremadog Church was bought by David Ellis Nanney of Glas Fryn, for £300. Imagine what the equivalent cost might be today! In 1843, the parishioners of Tremadog bought a new organ, probably the one in the church today, and the original organ was moved to Ynys cynhaiarn Church where it was installed after considerable repair.
On the basis of photographs only, we have been advised by a specialist that the organ in Tremadog might be worth about £2,000 to a collector, but would cost at least that much to put right. If the organ now in Ynyscynhaiarn is the original Ellis Nanney organ from 1811, it may be of greater historical interest. That church has recently passed into the care of the Friends of Friendless Churches.
I have drawn their attention to the organ and it is to be inspected.