Blaenavon goes on parade for World Heritage Day

3:40pm Sunday 1st July 2012

By Kath Skellon

SCHOOLCHILDREN wearing Victorian costumes and hats took part in a procession to mark Blaenavon World Heritage day on Saturday.

Visitors, residents and traders lined Broad Street to watch the pupils of Blaenavon Heritage VC Primary School, local cubs, scouts, parents and the Busy Bee Nursery as they took part in a Sunday School Walk to remember their past.

The parade, led by Blaenavon Town Band, saw around 50 adults and children carrying banners depicting the local churches and chapels that they had made themselves whilst they sang several hymns.

The two-day festival, which celebrates the cultural and rural heritage of Blaenavon World Heritage Site, is now in its 12th year.

This year the festival was held around the town from the Market Square to the Workmen’s Hall on Saturday.

There were craft stalls and plenty of entertainment for the youngsters including Punch and Judy, a bouncy castle, face-painting and traditional games.

Other events included art and craft demonstrations in the Workmen’s Hall, a wedding dress and photographic exhibition displaying dresses from the 40s, 50s and 60s in St Peter’s Church and a Flower Festival to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Horeb Chapel.

There was also a variety a dance and musical performances including Blaenavon Male Voice Choir, Blaenavon Town Band.

Sylvia and Peter Hayes of Pontnewydd, Cwmbran were visiting the festival for the first time.

Mrs Hayes, who was born in Blaenavon, said the parade through the town brought back many old memories.

"It was both lovely and moving to see the schoolchildren taking part in the festival, as I went to school here."

"It wonderful that the children know about their heritage," she added.

For traders Paula and Jerome Priestley, who run The Card Shop, it was disappointing.

"The festival is always well-supported by local people but this year’s scaled-down event is disappointing," said Mrs Priestley.

"It is a good event and attracts people to the town but splitting the stalls and events up and moving them away from the centre doesn’t help traders," she added.

"I’ve always supported the festival think it was poor this year and want to see the carnival re-instated to make it more of a day for families."

Cath Thomas, head of regeneration at Torfaen council who has been co-ordinating the event since it started, said although the festival was smaller due to funding cuts the community came together to celebrate the town's heritage.

The festival continued on Sunday at Garn Lakes with the chance to try bush-craft activities, a kayak trip on the lake, ride on a steam train or take part in a dog show.


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