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1947-1962 AD

1947: WALES GAS BOARD ESTABLISHED
The nationalization of industry began in 1947, the central boards taking over administration of all industry in Wales, yet only the Wales Gas Board was recognized as a national identity. The old encyclopedia entry "Wales: see England," still applied as far as the government was concerned.



1947: WELSH SCHOOL ESTABLISHED AT LLANELLI
To counter the threat to the continuance of the Welsh language caused by massive immigration from England, a private Welsh-medium school was established at Aberystwyth during World War II by Ifan ab Owen Edwards. It wasn't until the Llanelli Welsh School opened in 1947, however, that the startlingly radical idea that Welsh-speaking children could be taught through the medium of their own language began to take hold and even then, only begrudgingly in many areas.



1948: THE COUNCIL OF WALES ESTABLISHED
Despite the objections of Aneurin Bevan, ever anxious to keep Wales closely involved in the mainstream of British politics, intensive lobbying efforts of more-nationalistic-minded James Griffiths helped bring about the Council of Wales in 1948 as a purely advisory body. In 1951, the office of Minster for Welsh Affairs was created to make occasional, ever-so-slight gestures toward the forces that favored devolution. Yet It was a beginning: at long last it was begrudgingly recognized in Parliament that there were such things as Welsh Affairs.



1953: HOWELL ELVET LEWIS DIES
Lewis (Elfed) as a minister, hymn-writer and poet was an important figure in the literary history of his country. One of his hymns, "Cofia'n Gwlad", has been called the second national anthem of Wales. Another popular hymn, written in English, is "The Light of the Morning is Breaking."



1953: DYLAN THOMAS DIES
One bleak November day in 1953, the author was sitting in an English class at Swansea University, less than a mile from Dylan Thomas's childhood home at Cwmdonkin Drive, when the instructor was handed a note. Her brief "Dylan is dead; class dismissed," announced to us that one of the greatest of this century's lyric poets had died in New York City, alone and penniless, and very drunk. The Welsh poet, whose reputation as one of the most important and challenging writers of modern literature in English is assured, is buried in the little sea-side town of Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, where the little shed in which he crafted his art is now a place of pilgrimage.



1954: W.J. CRUFFYDD DIES
W.J. Gruffydd, a quarryman's son from Gwynedd who made many important contributions to Welsh scholarship, wrote poetry praising the hard-working, simple countryfolk (the gwerin) and numerous works dealing with "The Mabinogion."



1955: CARDIFF SELECTED AT NATION'S CAPITAL
A grudging nod towards Welsh aspirations came from Westminster when Cardiff was chosen as a capital city for Wales (beating out other more historic and "more Welsh" candidates such as Aberystwyth, Caernarfon, and Machynlleth). Wales could now think of herself as a real nation with its own capital city, on equal footing with other small nations throughout Europe.



1956: YSGOL GLAN CLWYD LEADS THE WAY
In heavily anglicized Flintshire, Dr Hadyn Williams was mainly responsible for setting up Wales's first secondary school that would teach through the medium of the Welsh language. First located in Rhyl, a seaside resort, and then moved inland to St. Asaph (Llanwelwy), Ysgol Glan Clwyd was followed by similar schools in Flintshire, (Ysgol Maes Garmon in Mold) in 1961, and in Glamorganshire (Ysgol Rhydyfelen) in 1962. A great beginning had been made, and despite much resistance (even in Welsh-speaking areas such as Preseli), there were fourteen such schools by the mid-1980's. Throughout Wales, sensible parents are beginning to see the advantages of a bilingual education for their offspring and no longer accept the argument that their English would suffer.



1957: THE DROWNING OF TRYWERIN
In the 1950's with the increased wealth and leisure time of the British population and the improved roads leading into Wales, ancient language strongholds were crumbling fast under the invasions of the hordes from Merseyside and the English Midlands (it didn't really matter in much of South Wales, where the predominant language had long been English). To add insult to injury, the Liverpool Corporation got the go-ahead from Parliament (despite the objections of all the Welsh M P's) to drown the Trywerin Valley to satisfy its thirsty multitudes (many of whom were immigrants from Ireland).

No matter that Trywerin housed a strong and vibrant Welsh-speaking community, the plan went ahead. The whole village had to be rehoused elsewhere (how about a nice, council flat in lovely bucolic Liverpool?). The powerlessness of Wales, its people, and even its representatives in Parliament was startlingly demonstrated by the drowning of the valley. It was apparent that something had to be done and be done soon, or the nation of Wales would be gone forever.



1958: HUW T. EDWARDS DEFECTS
Trywerin had its positive results after all. As a young man living in Flintshire at the time, I remember the immense popularity enjoyed by Huw T as the secretary of the all-powerful Transport and General Workers Union in the North and the shock caused by his defection from the Labour party to Plaid Cymru in 1958. Edwards resigned his chairmanship of the Council of Wales because of its ineptitude and lack of clout. By attracting such well-known and respected personalities, Plaid could no longer be regarded a "bunch of fanatic nationalists."



1962: A NEW "CYMDEITHAS YR IAITH GYMRAEG" FOUNDED
Saunders Lewis, perhaps the most respected literary figure in Wales, certainly its finest dramatist, had been one of "the Penyberth Three" that stirred the conscience of the Welsh people in their general apathy towards the continuing loss of their language and culture. In 1962, following Trywern, Lewis's concern that the Wales he knew would soon disappear unless drastic action was taken, was expressed in his radio lecture of 13 February, "Tynged yr Iaith". Its effect was revolutionary, starting a chain of events that transformed the attitudes of so many in Wales and leading to the formation of a new Cymdeithias Yr Iaith Gymraeg. (the Welsh Language Society).

Beginning with a sit-down to block traffic at Trefechan Bridge, Aberystwyth on 23 February, 1963, the Society went on a long campaign of civil disobedience to force the Government to recognize the Welsh language. Its activities bore fruit with the report The Legal Status of the Welsh Language (1965) recommending that Welsh be given equal validity with English in law. Its other campaigns led to the provision of adequate television facilities in Welsh and the Government's acceding to the demand for road signs and traffic directions in Welsh as well as English.

  

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