GWR 4073 Castle Class
The GWR 4073 Class or Castle class locomotives are a group of 4-6-0 steam locomotives built by the Great Western Railway. When introduced the Castle Class were heralded as Britain’s most powerful express passenger locomotive, the first, Caerphilly Castle, made its debut at Paddington station in August 23, 1923 and was withdrawn in May 1960 the locomotive is now preserved at the Swindon Steam Railway Museum.
The Big Cheese is an annual celebration portraying the history, heritage and culture of Caerphilly, now in its 14th year took place from Friday July 29 to Sunday July 31 and attracted over 80,000 people. This year there was the usual extravaganza including street entertainers, living history encampments, music, dance, traditional funfair, folk dancing, falconry, fire eating, minstrels, troubadours, craft stalls and all starting with the Great Cheese Race and Firework display.
Annually, usually around the last weekend in July
2012 – July 27 - 29
Friday: 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday: From 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
Owain Glyndwr Playing Fields, Crescent Road, Caerphilly
This cheese was first made in Caerphilly in about 1830 and is a traditional, farmhouse, unpasteurised, vegetarian cheese made from cow's milk. It is normally of a wheel-shape with ivory-white rind dusted in fine flour. As the cheeses begin to age in a moist cellar, the white and gray moulds become thicker and more leathery. Being close to the mining towns of South Wales the young cheese were a firm favourite amongst mining communities due to its shallow height and tough coat that made it easy to eat with dirty hands down the mines.
Caerphilly Cheese is known as "the crumblies". It originates from South and West Wales, and is moist and pale, with a mild and salty taste. It was first made around the 1830’s, Until then the coal miners of South Wales had probably taken enjoyed a bit of Cheddar down the pits, but Caerphilly supplanted it because of its fresh taste and softer texture, The rind of the cheese protected it from the miners’ dirty hands (Just like the thick crust on Cornish Pasties) and not least because of its saltiness which was helpful in replacing salt lost in the hard physical labour of working down a Coal Mine
It is now produced in South-western England as well as Wales.
Caerphilly reminds me very much of Greek Feta Cheese and it is lovely crumbled and mixed with salads or cooked on top of tomato and meat dishes and of course it’s a must for Welsh Rarebit or as it is more commonly called Cheese on Toast.
The 'Big Cheese' is a wonderful festival which takes place in and around the mighty Castle for a weekend in late July.
It starts off on a Friday evening with a Cheese race through the town and runs until early evening on the Sunday.
The Castle entrance fee is waived for this weekend with many medievel events taking place in this wonderful setting, there are re-enactments, weapon displays, falconry, basket weaving which take place inside the Castle. At the back of the castle (Crescent Road side) there is a huge fun fair & rows and rows of tents selling local crafts, locally produced food & also informative stalls set up by the local authority to advise on local services & events. During the weekend there are a number of free performances from Comedians, Dancers and bands which entertain throughout the day until early evening in the Music Tent.
It is a fabulous day out for all the family and you could literally spend all day wandering round the stalls and taking in the wonders of the Castle. It does get really busy though and it is advisable to get there early.
Caerphilly Cheese is a light coloured, strong sour tasting cheese. It was not originally made in Caerphilly but was named after the Castle Town because it was sold in the Markets there. Today the Cheese is made by Castle Dairies in Wedmore, Somerset. According to some, Caerphilly Cheese was a favourite amongst coalminers who would take cheese sandwiches down the mines with them - the high salt content in the cheese helped replace the salts lost through sweat & toil underground.
The cheese can be bought in most supermarkets & comes in different varieties. I would recommend Caerphilly Cheese & Leek. It's especially nice melted on top of a steak or for a quick snack, Welsh rarebit (cheese on toast).
Tommy Cooper the whacky comedian was born in Llwyn Onn street in Caerphilly and lived there for a short while before moving to Devon. He was proud of his Welsh roots and after his untimely death while on stage in 1984 the Tommy Cooper society based in Caerphilly was born.
To commemorate his life and comic genius the Tommy Cooper walk of fame was constructed on the pathway leading up from Visitor centre to the Twyn Chapel; here you can have your name engraved on one of many paving stones along the pathway. A recent addition to complete the walkway was a nine foot high bronze statue of the man himself sporting the trademark fez & complete with a bronze rabbit at his feet. The statue was partly funded by the Tommy Cooper society of Caerphilly who raised a whopping £45,000. The statue was unveiled on 23 February 2008 by none other that Sir Anthony Hopkins who was a self confessed cooperholic. He was the perfect gentleman during the visit to Caerphilly, he signed autographs galore & even did a Tommy Cooper impression & told a few jokes before unveiling the statue.
Gilbert lived in the castle with his beautiful wife, the Princess Alice of Angouleme. Alice's beauty was known throughout the land as were the magnificent feasts and banquets that she prepared in the castle?s great hall. Though Alice loved Gilbert deeply she was greatly troubled by their relationship.
Gilbert was a man of war, a strong warrior who had little time for romance and though Alice longed for the love and affection of her man, none came from her husband. Starved of affection Alice fell deeply in love with Gruffydd the fair, prince of Brithdir, a frequent visitor to the castle. Gruffydd was as handsome as Alice was beautiful and he was sensitive to the needs of women. In Gruffydd, Alice found the love she longed for but it was a love that had to be kept secret. Gruffydd was so filled with love for Alice that he felt compelled to tell someone of his feelings and so confided in a monk believing a man of god would surely understand and give him good counsel. Unbeknown to Gruffydd, the monk was in the employ of Gilbert and thought more of gold and riches than of love. The monk reported the affair to his master. Gilbert was enraged and at once ordered Alice back to France. He sent forth his best warriors to track down Gruffydd and kill him. Gruffydd came to hear of his betrayal and sought out the treacherous monk and by the neck from a tree at a place which is known even today as Ystrad Mynach (Monks Vale). Gilberts men eventually caught up with Gruffydd and he too was hanged. When news of her lover's fate reached Alice in France, her heart burst with despair and she died instantly. Since that time, and to this very day, the people of Caerphilly have often seen Alice pacing the ramparts of the castle, dressed in the green envy of her husband.
On many a frosty morning, many people have claimed to see a sad and lonely figure glimpsing out from the ruins of the northwest tower. This figure gazes sadly towards the village of Brithdir, waiting for her long-lost love to claim her.