Film Extra’s Wanted! Wednesday, 15/08/2018

Monster Films are looking for film extras this Saturday, 18th August, for the filming of a 1920’s scene adjacent to the Offa’s Dyke Centre. The company have been filming at the Judge’s Lodging in Presteigne this week before shooting a scene around Knighton’s clock tower and moving on to a location close to the path late Saturday afternoon.

Anyone interested in being an ‘extra’, please contact Vicky from Monster Films on 07891032065.

Summer art exhibition at the Offa’s Dyke Centre Wednesday, 18/07/2018

Mick Ward

The Offa’s Dyke Centre presents its first ever art exhibition with a collection of Offa’s Dyke inspired paintings by artist, textile designer, lecturer and accomplished sportsman Mick Ward.

Mick Ward was born in Essex in the 1930s. An artist, textile designer and art lecturer Mick spent much of his working life in Leicestershire.

In his younger days Mick was both a top sportsman as well as an accomplished artist. For thirteen years he worked as a textile designer for Courtaulds and taught at the Bath Academy of Art and then Leicester Polytechnic where he taught textile design and drawing. In 1973 Mick became a published author with Art and Design in Textiles published by Van Nostrand Reinhold.

In the 1950s, Mick was also considered to be one of the best cyclists in the country; unusually, he had the rare ability to be able to compete over any distance – and at the highest level. Mick won sprint events on the track at Herne Hill and a number of road races, but it was his achievements in Time Trials which brought him to the attention of the public. This early1950s self-portrait is of a determined young sportsman with clear goals in life.  

Sixty years ago, in June 1958, Mick won both the 25 mile & 50 mile National Road Time Trial Championships, becoming the first cyclist to win both events in the same year. In cycling terms, these are considered to be ‘short-distance’ events, but in the September of that year, he cycled almost 260 miles to come second in the National 12-hour championships. The following year, Mick won his fourth national title and retired from competitive cycling.

During a period that many consider to be a golden era of British Cycling Mick knew and competed against most of the top names including the charismatic Tommy Simpson.

In December 1958, Mick was featured in a five page article, in Sporting Cyclist magazine; he is quoted as saying that “he would much rather be a really good artist, than a really good cyclist”.

Mick also excelled at running and for over 25 years, the Offa’s Dyke Path was used for many of his training runs. The training along Offa’s Dyke Path certainly paid off; at the age of 70, Mick was able to run under three and a half hours at the London marathon – winning his age group. In the same year, he went on to win a medal at the World Masters Athletic championships.

Sixty years on, Mick’s artwork is featured in an exhibition here at the Offa’s Dyke Centre in Knighton. Now in his 80s, Mick has all but retired from competitive running and cycling, but his love for painting continues undiminished. When he has a spare moment, he can often be found in the vicinity of Offa’s Dyke, taking photos and planning his next piece of work. If Mick is present, he’ll be delighted to chat to you and to tell you what he believes is so special about the unique and wonderful Offa’s Dyke.

Mick’s art is on display until the end of August.

Reflections before the AGM – ways that you can help us Friday, 4/05/2018

‘Little Offa’s’ Throne, the new draw at the Offa’s Dyke Centre –  also available for hire by film companies

For many years the Offa’s Dyke Association has carried out the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) function for Knighton under a service level agreement with Powys County Council. At the beginning of 2018 the county confirmed what we already knew, that it had decided to withdraw financial support from all community-run TICs in Powys.

We were not unprepared for the news, in fact the past 18 months or so has witnessed a radical restructure of the business and we are more focused on delivering our charitable aims. Our membership has started to grow again, we have invested in new facilities and equipment at the Offa’s Dyke Centre, there is the new website, meeting room hire is on the up, we have our basement tenant and wherever possible we have reduced costs.

On the charitable aim side we have established our own Conservation Fund, awarding four modest but important awards, without which the conservation-based projects would not have gone ahead. We are the lead client, alongside Cadw and Historic England, for the forthcoming Conservation Management Plan for Offa’s Dyke. After two year’s planning and research the plan will be published in the summer. We are also active members of the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory and in March this year we co-hosted with the Collaboratory a successful conference, Offa’s Dyke Heritage, here at the Centre.

We have much to look forward to this year. In July the Clwyd Powys Archaeology Trust is organising an Archaeology Day, based at the Centre and in the park in Knighton, with re-enactors and fun activities for people of all ages. We are also assisting the Collaboratory with a public conference in September in Oswestry.

There is of course Offa’s Throne, our new hands-on, or rather sit-on, display item at the Centre. Made possible with generous funding from the Kay Trust Fund it is a serious interpretation of a medieval ceremonial chair, strongly influenced by St Stephen’s Chair in Hereford Cathedral. The carpentry is 100% faithful to the construction and jointing techniques of the early second millennium, likewise the decoration. We hope that visitors and Trail walkers will want to have their photos taken sitting in the chair – in exchange we hope for a generous donation. We might, perhaps, interest film production companies in hiring it out for historical dramas?

Meanwhile we are on the lookout for volunteers to lend a hand here at the Centre. We cannot afford to employ any more staff yet we are acutely aware, as the busy summer period approaches, that the business, in particular the tea room, needs additional staffing.

By the end of 2018 we will know the direction of travel that the ODA and the Centre will be going in. This will continue to be a very challenging year but at the same time let’s Iook forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary here in 2019. To help us get there please consider joining the ODA or by making a donation.

Backpackers Club help ODA Conservation Fund Friday, 4/05/2018

A big thank you to the Backpackers Club for inviting me to talk on 21st April to the Club’s Annual Gathering Weekend, held this year in Newcastle-on-Clun. A large and very friendly audience packed the village hall and listened to my presentation on Offa’s Dyke and the challenges facing its conservation. The Club made a donation to the ODA on the night but since then we have received a number of additional private donations. We are very grateful for all of them. The money will go towards our next Conservation Fund project.


Dave McGlade

ODA Chairman

ODA hosts Conservation Management Plan consultation meetings Sunday, 15/04/2018

Two important consultation meetings for the forthcoming Offa’s Dyke Conservation Management Pan (ODCMP)were held at the Offa’s Dyke Centre on Thursday 12th April.  Project consultant André Berry led the discussions, first in the morning for archaeology and heritage management staff representing a stable of organisations from both sides of the border, and in the afternoon for National Trail, Countryside and Public Rights of Way staff.

The Conservation Management Plan is a partnership project comprising the ODA, Cadw and Historic England.  With the fieldwork survey now complete André presented one of its main conclusions, which is that:

“Benign neglect is considered by the Offa’s Dyke Conservation Management Plan to constitute the greatest threat to the continued survival of Offa’s Dyke”

The ODCMP presents a wake up call to every individual and organisation with an interest in Offa’s Dyke and over the next few years the ODA will play its part in what will become a multi-faceted project. Dr Paul Belford, Director (CEO) Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, reports on the meetings on the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory website.

See also André’s presentation to the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory workshop, also held at the Offa’s Dyke Centre on 23rd March.