Posts Tagged ‘Folly Tower’

FREE new e-book for visitors to this blog

February 9, 2012

FREE new e-book for visitors to this blog

A couple of years ago I wrote a children’s novel for my grandchildren. They knew nothing about it, but when I’d finished it I designed a cover and used a pseudonym instead of my own name so that they wouldn’t know I was the author. I printed several copies and bound them into paperbacks so that they looked like any normal book you’d buy from a shop.

My grandchildren are keen on reading and are used to being given books so I casually gave a copy to each of them and asked them to let me know what they thought about it. I was pleased that they all gave it a good report, but one of my grandsons said he would have liked some illustrations in the book as he prefers books with illustrations. It was only after this that I confessed to being the author of the book.

So, for some while recently I’ve been busy making illustrations for the book, two of which appear on the newly-designed cover. I intended the book for children who are about 8 to 11 years of age and have decided now to offer it as a free e-book to any visitors’ children or grandchildren – or anyone else for that matter – who might like to read it.

The title of the book is “Titch’s Secret Society”. Visitors who have read all the posts on this blog will realise that it’s partly autobiographical – except the exciting bits !

There is a saying that writers should write about things they know, so the setting for the book is Pontypool, but a vastly different Pontypool. For one thing I’ve moved Pontypool to the Welsh coast, a Pontypool-on-sea !!!  I’ve also given it an abbey. I stole this from Tintern, but don’t tell the people of Tintern; they haven’t missed it yet.

There is a stone bridge (which was made of wood many years ago when it was first built) which leads from the abbey towards the town. It is because of this bridge that the town is known as “Pontyrabad” (Abbot’s Bridge in English). The full historical account of the murder of the abbot is included in the story.

This is the cover of the book:


The top illustration shows Titch and his four friends playing cricket on the green common with the abbey in the background, and, if you look carefully, to the right of the abbey set high on the hill is the old tower (The Folly). The bottom illustration shows the abbey set close to the sea and to the left the new stone abbot’s bridge. The town of “Pontypool” (Pontyrabad) rests resplendent along the coast with a beautifullly curved beach. Did I hear someone say “I wish!”? The Grotto is off to the left of the bottom picture. Known as “the old shell house” it also features in the book.

So, in the hope that some Pontypool children (or any others) might be encouraged to do more reading, I shall be publishing an episode from the book every Saturday morning so that children can read it when they are home from school. Incidentally, please feel free to make any comments.

Although the book is coyright and cannot be published by anyone else, please feel free to download it and print a personal copy if you want someone to have it in printed format.

The Folly Tower, Pontypool

June 6, 2008

The new Folly Tower

My pastel painting of the Folly Tower

The Folly Tower is built on a ridge so that it can be seen for many miles around and, conversely, it commands magnificent views of the surrounding countryside; it is claimed that seven counties can be seen on a clear day.

It was built by John Hanbury in 1772 as a summerhouse for him and his family. My earliest memories of the tower in the 1930s recall that it was in a state of disrepair, though worse was to follow.

I remember the surprise I had one day in the war when, on Tuesday, 9th July 1940,  I came home from school and walked down the garden path at my home in School Lane, Wainfelin. Usually, looking to the right it had always been possible to see the Folly standing up on the crest of the hill, but on this particular day it looked as though someone had cut it in half from top to bottom. It had been rumoured that the tower would have to be taken down because German bombers used it as a marker to try to locate the ordnance factory near Usk, known to Pontypool people as “The Dump”.

I don’t know whether they hadn’t used enough explosives to complete the demolition or whether they needed to demolish it in two stages, but soon the job was completed and the Folly was no more, just a heap of old stones.

A promise had been made at the time that, when the war was over, the tower would be restored but it was many years after the war before that promise was kept. In 1990 a committee was set up with the aim of restoring the old tower and was successful in obtaining funding for the project from various organisations. As it was destroyed to further the cause of freedom throughout Europe I think it was appropriate that the E.U. should have contributed to its restoration. The “Campaign to Rebuild the Old Folly Tower” (CROFT) was launched and finally raised enough money for the work to start in 1991. Three years later it was completed. It was officially opened on 22nd July 1994 by the Prince of Wales, almost exactly 54 years after I’d seen it demolished.

The Folly Tower has always had a special place in the hearts of the people of Pontypool. When travelling home by train you knew, when you came in sight of the Folly, that you were almost there.

From time to time I pay a visit to some of my old Pontypool haunts just to see if anything has changed. On one visit to the Folly, I was pleased to see that it had been restored to its former glory. I therefore made a return visit to paint the above pastel painting of the scene. For those who might prefer a photograph instead of my painting above, I append below a photograph of the Folly I took on the day I did the painting.

The restored Folly Tower