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Monday, 9 June 2014

The Borth and Ynyslas Coastal Heritage Project meets Aberdyfi WI, YAC and Borth Scouts!







Photograph of the crew of the HMS Camroux moored at Aberdyfi wharf during the Second World War. This image was donated by Len Dennett (Cook on the HMS Camroux). Known crew members are: George Barnes, Captain; William Howell Selby Davies, Chief engineer, Reg Jenkins.

We have had a busy couple of weeks with the Borth and Ynyslas project, starting off on Wednesday 30 April with a talk to the Aberdyfi WI. During the Second World War, Aberdyfi wharf housed the HMS Camroux, a military coaster, used as a naval aid for the rocket range and military camp. The ship had an important role in many of the estuary rocket firing tests, from testing innovative landing rockets to collecting and positioning used shells. The introduction of the Camroux to the range made a significant impact on the lives of the local community, with stories of broken windows, hearty breakfasts from the local Bwlch farm, charity events and gifts of toys for the local children.  It seemed perfect therefore, to talk with this small community to further our shared understanding of their area.


RAF reconnaisance photograph of the Ynyslas Rocket Range from 1946.

The Aberdyfi WI were keen to find out about our project and happy to help, providing vital information from their own, and their relatives’ memories of area, the ship and the range at that time. Many of the occupants of Aberdyfi still retain vivid memories and personal connections to those who served on the range during WW2, their knowledge provides a great resource to add to our understanding of Ynyslas.
Borth Beavers and Cubs taking part in the Ynyslas activities.
Running for the rocket! Borth Beavers and Cubs chasing after a water─propelled rocket.
On Friday 2 May we were able to engage with a much younger audience. I took the Beavers and Cubs to the Ynyslas dunes so that they could understand the archaeology and history of the rocket range.  Enthusiastically asking and answering questions, the Beavers and Cubs were really interested in the site, keen to understand the exciting operations performed at Ynyslas, and join in with the games we prepared. We finished the activities, of course, by firing a large water-propelled rocket and exploring  the dunes.

The remains  of a camera oberservation post, originally used for measuring and recording rockets fired from the range into the Dyfi estuary.

To learn how to better engage with younger audiences of a variety of ages, I participated in a two-day training course with Ynyslas Dune Education Team from Natural Resources Wales, learning different methods of communicating and capturing the interests of school groups. Really important activities, such as role playing activities from the pupils’ perspective and a simulation of difficult dune health and safety scenarios , really helped to hone personal teaching styles and methods

Finally, on Saturday 10 May, despite the howling wind and rain, we were undeterred and conducted Ynyslas activities this time from the comfort and shelter of Ceredigion Museum!  YAC (Young Archaeologist Club) members were guided, with the aid of Kimberly Briscoe and using PowerPoint and activities, through the remains of the rocket range establishment, understanding the roles of the servicemen and women on the camp and the operations they conducted. In the 1940s, Ynyslas was chosen as an ideal location to develop and test innovative types of rocket fuel, its remote location provided a perfect arena for rocket experimentation with liquid fuels.

Young archaeologists exploring the aerial photographs of the Ynyslas Rocket Range.
This innovative site, still visible from aerial photographs, has a great story to tell by using archaeological remains and through archive materials and local oral histories. By the end of the session the YAC children were visibly identifying intricate changes to the landscape, recalling some of the main characters and their roles within the range, and putting into context the contribution of the range towards the war effort in the Second World War.

Young Archaeologists making their own bicarbonate of soda and vinegar minature rockets!

Finally, on the theme of testing  new types of fuel, the YAC experimented with their very own white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda fuelled miniature rockets!


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