One of the massive NATO helicopters over Penarth tonight as it heads back to Cardiff Airport

One of the massive NATO helicopters flies over Penarth tonight (Saturday) as it heads back to Cardiff Airport

Residents of Penarth are almost blase about  the sight and sound of the South Wales Police helicopter hovering over Penarth – but this week there’s been something a lot bigger and beefier thumping through the skies over our heads.

Lights blazing through the murk a NATO  chopper overflies Penarth heading South

A NATO chopper overflies Penarth heading South – one of its headlights apparently defective.

A pair of big khaki-coloured RAF Agusta Westland Merlin helicopters have been busy overflying Penarth at heights varying from 1500 feet to almost clifftop height.  Yesterday the cloud-base was so low the big military machines had to fly in driving rain at just 250 feet above the Penarth seafront.

Both headlights were working on this helicopter

Both headlights were working on this helicopter

All movements of the military are top secret during the run up to the NATO conference – being held in Newport and Cardiff – but informed sources believe the aircraft are operating a VIP shuttle service from Cardiff Airport to the helipad at Blackweir for Cardiff Castle and also operating into the grounds of the Celtic Manor Resort Hotel in Newport where the conference itself is taking place next week .

One said it seems highly likely that President Obama and other top political figures are also likely to fly the same route over Penarth – taking in the scenery of the sea front, the Pier and the Pier Pavilion –  after they arrive at Cardiff Airport in a few days’ time.


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A beer pull plate for Bullmastiff's  "Son of a Bitch" beer

A beer pull plate for Bullmastiff’s “Son of a Bitch” beer

Two brothers from Penarth – Bob and Paul Jenkins –  who together set up the award winning Bullmastiff Brewery in Penarth Docks in 1987  have finally decided to retire and have put the business up for sale.

The brothers were both born in 65 Windsor Road, Penarth and have been starting work at their brewery at o3.30 every morning for 27 years.

The Bullmastiff Brewery was moved from Penarth to 14 Bessemer Close off Hadfield Road, Cardiff when Penarth Marina was developed and has operated from the Leckwith site every since  – winning a clutch of awards and plaudits from real-ale aficionados.

Amongst the memorable brands the brothers brewed were “Son of a Bitch” promoted as having been voted the “World’s Best Beer” and was so-called for the scale of the hangover it allegedly bestows on imbibers.

Another was “Welsh Gold Ale” which was nominated as  one of the Champion Beers of Britain  – a title which the brewery won in 2000.

All their beers were served by traditional real-ale pubs where landlords  served them on tap with hand-pulled pumps.

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The front of Penarth Public Library

The front of Penarth Public Library

Emergency repairs are having to be carried out on Penarth Public Library after heavy rain earlier this summer – and in the last few days – leaked through the roof and first-floor ceiling of the building.

The first floor of the building has not been closed to the public but access to five computer terminals on that  floor have had to be restricted because of the rainwater ingress and the machines have been isolated.

The Chief Librarian Marcus Payne says that as far as can be ascertained there has been no damage to books but all the stock will be checked before it is placed back on display. The rest of the library is operating normally.

Scaffolding going up outside Penarth Library for "emergency repairs"

Scaffolding going up outside Penarth Library for “emergency repairs”

The library – a gift to the people of Penarth – was first opened in 1905, its construction having been funded largely by the Carnegie Trust on land donated by the Earl of Plymouth.  It’s now owned by the Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council which has been blamed in the past for tardy maintenance on other public buildings in Penarth including Albert Road School.

The library has previously suffered a pipework problem in the basement – the popular area which stocks children’s books –  although this has now been rectified.

Earlier this month the Vale of Glamorgan Council, which is keen to cut expenditure on public libraries throughout its area, at last authorised the expenditure of £88,000 on essential maintenance and repairs to  “address damp” in Penarth Library  – but that work is not actually going to be done until the  financial year 2015/16.

The emergency work currently getting under way is separate from the longer term maintenance work to be carried out in 2015/16.

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IMG_2967Arriva rail services from Penarth are now back to normal as of 16:08 today after  being  disrupted by a broken-down train at Cardiff Queen St  which was blocking Valley Line operations 

At one stage the company warned that “train services between Penarth and Cardiff Central may be cancelled or delayed by up to 30 mins”.The disruption is now over and all trains are running normally to and from Penarth .

Passengers can however double-check by looking at the Arriva website on

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The scene of the  accident in St Augustine's Crescent in which cyclist Martin Trinder sustained fatal injuries

The scene of last month’s  accident in St Augustine’s Crescent in which cyclist Martin Trinder sustained fatal injuries

Barely a month after the death of cyclist Martin Trinder – who sustained fatal head injuries after coming off his bike in St Augustine’s Crescent, Penarth –  another cyclist has been seriously hurt, this time in a bike-on-bike collision, and has now made a public plea for local cyclists to be more careful.

Christine Glover

Christine Glover

Christine Glover – a cyclist from Llandaff, Cardiff – has written to the South Wales Echo to relate the circumstances of a Bank Holiday weekend collision in which she was hit and thrown off her bike en route to Penarth Marina  – by a speeding cyclist.

Ms Glover says “I am a responsible cyclist, I use my bell to warn pedestrians on cycle paths of my approach and I always thank them for acknowledging me on my bike. I wear high visibility clothing and a helmet.”

She reports that on Sunday  she was “quietly enjoying a ride over to Penarth Marina when a cyclist approached me from behind and collided with me, catapulting me off my bike and the path of a car.” She describes how she hit the ground head-first with her body skidding along the concrete.

She says “This irresponsible attitude to fellow cyclists is very dangerous. Needless to say I am now not able to get back on my bike due to my injuries. He is still speeding around though.”  She poses the question  “Why as a responsible careful cyclist should I have to be terrified by other cyclists?”

Cyclists breaching the Highway Code on the Marina roundabout

Cyclists blithely breaching the Highway Code on the Penarth Marina “Mermaid” roundabout

Ms Glover writes “Cyclists, I implore you: please slow down on cycle paths, some of us are not as clever at cycling as you, we don’t try to break the speed record at overtaking and skimming past fellow cyclists; we cannot see you approaching from behind; we are not adept at doing wheelies at unacceptable speed; use your bells to warn others, pedestrians and cyclists, that you are approaching from behind; keep to the correct side of the cycle path, cycle paths are not race tracks so please slow down.”

She adds “The consequences of your impulsive actions can have a devastating affect on others, don’t give cyclists a bad name by your behaviour. Cycling is for pleasure not meant to be terrifying and dangerous.

Cardiff Harbour Authority has reported a number of collisions between cyclists on the Cardiff Bay Barrage since the route was opened .

Christine Glover’s letter to the South Wales Echo is on

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"Le Grand Valseur" passing Penarth

“Le Grand Valseur” passing Penarth

Passing Penarth Pier last night was the  South Wales Police  seven-berth offshore motor cruiser “Le Grand Valseur” (The Big Waltzer).

“Le Grand Valseur” is a 42 foot long twin engined Dale Nelson 38 built in 1997 . Yacht dealers say that Nelson 38s  “are very highly sought after by discerning yachtsmen”. However this particular one -and a sister vessel – have now been kitted-out with plastic decals to make her look more like a waterborne police patrol car than a luxury cruiser.

It’s understood that Le  Grand Valseur and her sister vessel are both being deployed on duties involving the forthcoming NATO conference in Newport and are now  berthed in Penarth Marina and Mermaid Quay respectively.

It might be helpful for non-Welsh-speaking terrorists, who don’t happen to spot the blue flashing lights above the wheelhouse, to know that the word “Heddlu” (prominently displayed on the bow and flanks of the vessel) means “police” .


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The South Wales Police helicopter

The South Wales Police helicopter

Penarth Coastguard and police were called to the Outer Harbour of Cardiff Barrage after dark last night to investigate reports of a “person in the water”.

The “casualty” was spotted by the police helicopter which saw him leaving the water anad climbing onto a bike on which he then cycled from the Outer Harbour to Penarth Portway in the Marina.

It’s reported the man was “quite intoxicated” and “required no medical attention“. Penarth Coastguard handed him over to the police. 

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