As you open your curtains at the end of June, don’t be surprised to see a colourful horse-drawn Royal Mail stagecoach coming down your street in north Wales.
You’re not having any hallucinations. Instead, you’re witnessing a unique television series being filmed for S4C.
In the series Y Goets Fawr (The Big Coach) television presenter, Ifan Jones Evans will be learning more about the route and history of the old Royal Mail coaches from London to Ireland. He’ll be enjoying the food, clothes and entertainment of the nineteenth century and meeting a number of contributors and supporters along the way. At the end of each night, he’ll park up and enjoy a series of special events from the past.
The journey began in the centre of London this Sunday 19 June and the stagecoach will enter Wales at Chirk, near Oswestry, on Sunday 26 June. Later that day, Ifan and the stagecoach will make their first scheduled stop in Wales at Riverside Park, Llangollen, where their arrival will be celebrated with an evening of folk music and dancing. Ifan will join opera singer and presenter Shân Cothi at Riverside Park.
The next evening, Monday 27 June, the stagecoach will stop at Ceirnioge Mawr Farm, Penrefoelas where a country fair with games, competitions, music and food will be held. The Ty’n y Coed Inn at Capel Curig will be the stopping point on Tuesday 28 June where there’ll be pub games and a screening of the film ‘Jamaica Inn.’
On Wednesday evening 29 June, a feast of live entertainment will welcome the stagecoach to Bangor Pier. And to celebrate journey’s end on Thursday evening, 30 June, there’ll be a procession of horses and carts together with entertainment and food at Holyhead Foreshore, near the Holyhead Maritime Museum. All the celebrations will be shown live on S4C.
There is a warm welcome for anyone who wishes to step back in time to attend the celebrations. For the latest information and to discover how to be a part of the fun, keep an eye on the S4C websites, s4c.co.uk/ygoetsfawr and s4c.co.uk/caban
Ifan and the team will also stop in schools on the route, allowing people of all ages to play a part in re-capturing the history of the old Royal Mail coaches.
The series Y Goets Fawr steps back to 1808. It was during this period that the route was to change in order to speed up the post’s arrival in Ireland. The stagecoach will follow this new route throughout the week.
Before the resurgence of railways, a coach with teams of four horses was the best way of transporting the mail from one place to another. Gari Wyn, a familiar face in Bangor, will take a historical look at old stories from the period throughout the week and Gwyn Williams from Ffarmers, Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire, is the stagecoach driver in this unique challenge.
According to Ifan, it’s important that we don’t forget the traditions from our past.
“It will be nice for me to sit back, relax and learn more about the history whilst someone else drives me around all week. Very nice! But you won’t be able to miss me. The traditional Royal Mail coaches were red and black so if you do happen to see me passing through your village, be sure to come over and say hello!
“I’m sure the support of the local people along the way will be incredible – the horses and bright coach will I’m sure receive a positive response. But it’s the production team who have the biggest challenge of all as they look after the horses, plan and map out the exact route of the journey and adapt the coach for the highway. It will be worth a watch I’m sure!”
S4C is available on all platforms in Wales and on Sky 134 and Freesat 120 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. S4C’s online service is available throughout the UK.
Viewers can follow the team’s journey on Twitter @ygoetsfawr and on Facebook - www.facebook.com/ygoetsfawr
Viewers are welcome to join in the traditional celebrations, including pub games, fairs and folk evenings. For the latest information and to find out how to get involved, keep an eye on the websites, s4c.co.uk/ygoetsfawr and s4c.co.uk/caban – or phone 02920 916667 (national call rate applies) to reserve your ticket.
Any proceeds raised during the course of the week will go to the Royal Mail’s chosen charity, Barnardos.