Weird monument in Wales has interesting history

If you’re staying in Aberystwyth, Wales, you can see it from pretty much everywhere–a tall tower on a bluff to the south of town. At first it’s hard to see what it is, so my wife, five-year-old son and I decided to walk there and have a look.

It was an easy two or three kilometers from town through a wooded trail up a fairly steep slope. What greeted us once we made it through the trees was rather surprising–a giant stone cannon pointing at the sky. The bluff gave a commanding view of the town, a horse racing track, and the open sea. A little plaque declared that this was a monument to the Duke of Wellington, who beat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo with some timely help from the Germans. It was erected c. 1852.

But. . .why? What’s the connection between a Welsh seaside report and one of the British Empire’s greatest heroes? There isn’t even a statue of the Duke duking it out with the undersized French dictator. From town it looked for all the world like the smokestack of some Victorian factory.

The owners of our B&B, the Seabrin Guest House, told us the tale. It’s called the Derry Ormond Tower, after the local landowner who first came up with the idea of the tower. Ormond was a veteran of Waterloo and wanted to honor the general he served under.

Originally the cannon was supposed to serve as the base for a statue of the Duke of Wellington astride a horse, looking suitably imperious. Money ran out, however, and some say the statue languished in a stonemason’s yard in Cardiff until someone with deeper pockets took it off their hands.

So Aberystwyth is left with half a monument. Ah well, at least the view was nice.

What’s your favorite odd monument? Tell us about it in the comments section!

Eurostar Rolls On

For those of you fellow train lovers, here’s a bit of news. The awesome London-to-Paris Chunnel train, the Eurostar, is moving next year from its home at Waterloo station to the St. Pancras station.

This train is nothing to sneeze at: central London to central Paris in under 3 hours, in quiet, smooth high-speed (186 mph max speed!) luxury, through the Chunnel, for as little as 29.50 pounds ($58USD).

Apparently, the tracks to Waterloo aren’t modern enough to handle better speeds, severely slowing the train as it rolls into London, so they’re moving the terminus to another station, northwest of London.

In November next year, renovations to London’s St. Pancras station will be complete, allowing eight trains to sit side-by-side in a modern new station. Trip time will drop by a half hour or more. And the St. Pancras/Kings Cross station is pretty centrally located, and on the Circle Line Tube.

Some folks aren’t too happy, though. After all, Waterloo is placed well for those south of the center, and those working at Parliament.