'Mines and Steelworks Loomed over the Horizons of My Childhood' as Part of Welsh History Month, Cadw - the Welsh Government's Historic Environment Service, Asked Tim Rhys-Evans, Musical Director of Only Men Aloud, Only Boys Aloud and Only Kids Aloud about His Favourite Historic Sites
1. What is your favourite Cadw site? There are so many, and so many of them have played a role in my life so far, but I'm going to plump for Blaenavon Ironworks.
2. What makes it so special to you? I just about remember a Wales that was run on industry. Mines and steelworks loomed over the horizons of my childhood and although Wales is a lot cleaner and greener now, we are still suffering the economic and social consequences of their demise. It's so important to remember what first made Wales as a nation.
What's the best bit about it? Its sense of scale and the thought as you walk around the stunning landscape that once upon a time hundreds of people toiled there. It's so peaceful now that's it's hard to imagine, which is part of the beauty of it. Nature seems to be claiming back what was originally hers. I love the monolithic balance tower best of all; it's almost like something from an ancient Inca civilisation. The way water was used to move huge weights up and down different levels is still staggering genius.
4. What sites have you performed at? We were honoured to perform at Blaenavon Ironworks with Only Boys Aloud as part of the celebrations to mark its tenth anniversary as a World Heritage site. It shares the same status as some of the wonders of the world like the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids, and it's all in Blaenavon!
Caerphilly Castle also holds a special place in my heart as it was where I first performed when I was 10 in a Rhymney Valley schools pageant. I'm looking forward to hosting the BBC Proms in the Park there in September and I'm keeping everything crossed for a dry night!
5. Is there a Cadw site you haven't performed at but would like to? Yes, I think a performance at Tintern or Neath Abbey would be amazing! Can we arrange it please? 6. Did you visit castles as a child? All the time I loved history as a child and still do. My overactive imagination would take flight as we visited Raglan or Castell Coch for example. What child doesn't love imagining they live in a castle or that they are defending it from invaders? All children should be encouraged to use their imaginations; it's what we're trying to do with Only Boys Aloud and Only Kids Aloud.
I was recently visited by family from Canada and my cousins, aged three and six, were amazed by Caerphilly Castle and asked "Does a princess live here?" They don't have anything nearly as historic back in Canada and it really brought home to me how lucky we are in Wales. 8. How important do you think our historic monuments are to Wales as a whole? I think they are fundamental to us as a nation. Our sense of identity is what makes us who we are and even though we're a tiny country, our heritage, our music, our poetry and our language must be cherished or we will be lost in our increasingly globalised society. …