Coleg Harlech art auction raises around £100,000 to clear debts

The auction is part of a financial recovery plan for the college, which provides adult education for 5,000 students

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A debt-laden college hopes to have raised £100,000 by auctioning off artworks to ease its financial problems.

Coleg Harlech in Gwynedd put 350 pieces of art, sculpture and rare books under the hammer in an attempt to relieve some of its £900,000 debt.

But a painting by Sir Kyffin Williams, worth around £40,000, failed to sell.

The auction was part of a recovery plan for the college, which provides adult education for 5,000 students.

The college's management said on Wednesday that proceeds from the sale at Wingetts Auction House in Wrexham were being tallied, but it hopes to have raised around £100,000.

Speaking before the auction a college spokesperson said: "Coleg Harlech Workers' Educational Association recently found it was in a very difficult financial position. Therefore as part of the recovery plan the decision was taken to sell some of the association's assets.

"It is hoped that such sales will help the association to continue with its primary role of providing adult education across north and mid Wales."

Local interest

Paintings including several by Sir Kyffin Williams were part of the auction, along with a bronze bust of Philip Snowden, chancellor of the first-ever Labour government in 1924.

Rare books in the sale included a 1550 edition of Girolamo Cardano's encyclopaedia De Subtilitate and a 1703 first edition of Ellis Wynne's Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsg.

Most of the items were donated to the college and some have been on loan to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

The sale was at Wingetts Auction House in Wrexham The sale was at Wingetts Auction House in Wrexham

The auction came as college authorities work on a recovery plan to tackle its debt.

As well as the sale of assets, the college has been considering staff reductions and asking the Welsh government for a short term loan of £500,000.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said: "My officials have been working closely with the college on a recovery process, and while it is recognised that progress is being made, concerns remain about some aspects of the college's financial position and the safeguarding of public funds."

In March it was revealed that the college had spent £450,000 on planning consultancy costs for its shelved Canolfan Cambria redevelopment project.

But the college said the money involved came from private funds and had not contributed to its current levels of debt.

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