THE Barry Island Tourist Railway took a trip back in time when the Barry at War Group launched the new Glamorgan Wartime Heritage Centre.

Visitors to Barry Island Railway Station on the weekend of November 3-4 were able to see the research being undertaken by the group, and get hands-on with history.

Military vehicles, including a Second World War Jeep and GMC truck, proved particularly popular, while living historians also helped bring history to life, backed up by illustrated talks on both the First and Second World Wars.

Group chairman Ade Pitman said: "Our first open day was educational and fun for all the family and, on a cold and wet November Sunday, we looked to be the busiest attraction on the Island with around 150 visitors."

Although entry to the centre is free, thanks to the generosity of visitors the group raised a total of £150.17 and this will go towards improving the facility.

"Our first priority is making the necessary alterations to the building as, at the moment, the lighting is inadequate for museum use and we have a leaking roof,Ó said Mr Pitman.

"With the advice and support of the Vale Centre for Voluntary Services we are also applying for grants to help us with the necessary work and, if successful, we hope the centre will be ready for the summer season and be able to provide a venue for school visits by next September.

"We are also planning to build some interactive exhibits, which will help to bring history alive for our visitors.

"With 2013 being the 'Year of the Convoy,' and 2014 being both the centenary of the First World War, and the 70th anniversary of the Normandy D-Day, the timing of our launch couldn't have been better - but we've a lot of work and expense ahead of us.

"WeÕve drawn up a list of events, and aim to open the centre on Sunday afternoons throughout the summer," he added.

"A Spitfire has been booked for the 2013 Wartime Weekend event on August 31/September 1, and we're now working on plans for 2014."

John Buxton, managing director of the Barry Tourist Railway, said: "We are pleased to be able to offer Barry at War a permanent home, and to work again with them to showcase the wartime history of the area.

"We are working together on several projects which will make the most of the unique setting of the centre, being located at the railway and near Barry Island beach.

"Our partnership will enable us to bring some unique events to Barry Island, and help to place the town firmly on the heritage tourism circuit."

Vale AM Jane Hutt said: "I've been a supporter of the Barry at War Group since they were founded. Their ability to research and promote the area's history and then to pass this on to younger generations in an interesting way should be recognised."

Vale MP Alun Cairns said: "This facility will provide a focal point where people can come to both learn about the wartime experience and to contribute memories of their own, which will further aid the group's research."

Ade Pitman added: "We're always keen to hear from people interested in Glamorgan's wartime heritage. We're also keen to hear from local businesses that may be able to help us by donating the materials and services that we need, or who could sponsor our work in other ways."

Call Ade Pitman on 07930 874161 or see the Barry at War website at  more information.