A town mayor is adopting poetic licence in a bid to raise cash to transform Mold’s historic Bailey Hill.
Bob Gaffey has already penned a book of poems featuring some of his wry observations on life both national and local.
Now he says he is prepared to draw artistic inspiration again in a bid to help a £1m bid for lottery funding to transform the site of the former Motte and Bailey castle on which Mold was founded.
After hating the poems he was force-fed as a schoolboy, Bob discovered a passion for the spoken word after attending the Viva Voce poetry sessions at Wrexham’s Saith Seren pub and community centre.
During his tenure as deputy mayor he penned an ode to his adopted town, ‘In Praise of Mold’, and the words have flowed since.
Proceeds from his self-published book, ‘Everybody Says Honesty is a Virtue but Nobody Wants to Hear the Truth’, will go towards his own personal target of £10,000, which is 10 per cent of the amount campaign group Friends of Bailey Hill need to raise to trigger the release of another £900,000 for the ambitious project.
But is the town mayor’s own personal musings which could add an amusing and absorbing edge to the campaign to provide a tourist attraction for Mold.
“The book has a lot of themes – from Mold to Trump and Leonard Cohen. Something will inspire me as well as things that I read. And I put all my poems into context with a description,” explains the mayor.
“Up to three years ago, I wasn’t interested in poetry – but that all changed when I went to the sessions at the Saith Seren. Some people like the poems but others are indifferent.
“I’m inspired to write by many things. I’m a massive music fan and there are four poems in the book about musicians (including Cohen and Lou Reed).
“I did a show on Vintage Radio in Birkenhead to promote the book, where I read my poems and talked about my favourite eight tracks, which included The Beatles, Dafydd Iwan, Cohen and Jimi Hendrix.”
The mayor’s latest effort is an appeal for the town to rally round to support the tourism plans, which include an open-air amphitheatre performance area and an exhibition centre with a café at the historic site, which is a scheduled ancient monument.
Currently, there is little on offer to satisfy the curiousity of visitors to the town, save the view across the Alyn Valley which greets them at the end of the path up from the High Street and the Gorsedd stones erected when the National Eisteddfod came to Mold in 1923.
“Our history here in Mold is based on the hill at the top of the High Street. When I first came here in 2006, I couldn’t believe how such a place with such wonderful potential lay virtually unused,” recalls Bob.
“There was a bowling green and tennis courts in the last century but now it’s sadly neglected and mainly used by dog walkers.
“There is plenty of potential there and we want to transform that into a major tourist attraction.
“It could have spin-offs, for example there is talk of converting the Dolphin, which is a historic building in the town centre, back into a guest house. We want visitors to come to Mold.”
Flintshire Council, who own the land, met with Heritage Lottery bosses three years ago to put forward the case to secure two grants.
Robin Guest, then mayor of Mold, kick started the campaign when he awarded some of his funds towards the application.
And The Friends of Bailey Hill won approval last year for the first stage of the process, which meant £44,000 was put forward to the second-stage application which is being submitted by February 2018.
“The plans are on display upstairs in Mold Town Hall for the public to view.
“We aim to create a gentle gradient access all the way from the street to the inner Bailey, a performance area on the Inner Bailey, an exhibition centre, cafe and toilets.
“It will be a great scheme and I’m happy to come to speak to organisations about the project,” adds Mold’s mayor.
“I am have talks planned for the Daniel Owen Centre and the Savoy restaurant and we have a list of other events too.”
l Bob Gaffey’s book is priced at £5 – with all proceeds going towards the Bailey Hill campaign. It is available from outlets in town, including The Bookshop.