Mid Wales

Piano for passers-by idea in shadow of Machynlleth town clock

Pianos in public places was a feature of a festival in Bath
Image caption Pianos in public places was a feature of a music festival in Bath in 2010

There are hopes a "street" piano could hit the right note with the passers-by at a key location in a Powys town.

A shop owner wants to put the instrument beneath Machynlleth's town clock and for it be available for anyone to play.

One town councillor called it "innovative" and "fun". Local people are to be surveyed for views.

The piano would be protected from the elements and locked away at night.

Phil Wheeler, a member of the Mach Fringe festival, said: "This idea has been around for a long time but then my son came back from Bath and said there are pianos everywhere there for people to play, so it's prompted me to get things moving in Machynlleth."

He said he had considered problems of vandalism but "no-one would do anything like plant a tree, or place a bench, you worried about things like that."

"It'll be protected from the weather (under the clock) and locked at night," he added.

Mr Wheeler, who runs a fabric shop, said a webcam would also show people playing the piano and so it would help raise the town's tourism profile.

"I want people to see it and think, 'Let me have a go and have a tinkle or for kids in the town to have a go. I see this as a positive thing."

He said he hoped the piano would be available in July and August.

It would be given a prominent location underneath the town clock, which dominates the town and stands at the junction of the A487 and A489.

Town councillor Glenda Jenkins, who was instrumental in the refurbishment of the clock, said she is "totally in favour" of the idea.

"It's innovative, fun, interesting, novel. On market days the town is already particularly vibrant and this will add to the whole atmosphere," she said.

Image caption The idea is to have the piano available during July and August

"It's not really a town council scheme, as it's Mach Fringe who are behind it, but we have to go through the usual red tape," she added.

The foundation stone for the clock tower was laid in 1874 and was built to celebrate the coming of age of Charles Stewart Vane-Tempest, Viscount Castlereagh.

He was the first son of the fifth Marquess and Marchioness of Londonderry, who owned a house in the town.

Money to pay for it was raised through local subscription, and when more than a century later the clock was in need of repair the people of Machynlleth raised funds to refurbish the clock.

Deputy mayor of the town, Gareth Jones, said he had not decided either way about the piano.

"I want to wait to see what people say in the questionnaire and also what the police say, as they might consider something like this a hazard," he said.

Mr Jones said he had a personal reason for wanting the best for the clock.

"I'm related to the chap who built it. Edward Edwards, the stone mason, was my great, great grandfather.

"The clock is important for us all in the town. We want to do the right thing," he added.

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