MARCH AND MEETINGS TO MARK STRIKE AND UPRISING

 

 

This August is the anniversary of the first ever national rail strike in 1911 which led, on the streets of Llanelli, to pitched battles between townspeople and the army.

 

Two men were shot dead and many other people injured by troops of the Worcester regiment, leading to widespread rioting, attacks on the railway company and the looting of the shop of the magistrate who many believed had called in the soldiers.

 

A soldier refused to fire on the crowd and deserted, sparking government fears of a wider mutiny. More people died when a torched truck of detonators exploded. For some days Llanelli was under military occupation

 

  • Our annual marking of the events takes place this year between Wed 14-Sat 17th August.
  • On Wed 14th there will be a FREE evening of music and poetry on the Uprising 7.30 till late at the Queen Victoria Club, Queen Victoria Rd Llanelli SA15 2TL.
  • On Thurs 15th at 5.00 pm there will be a round table forum: ‘From the Great Unrest of 1911 to the Global Rebellions of 2013’. Speakers will include Jonathan Edwards MP, Rob Griffiths and John Edwards, authors of books on the events, and others. This will be at Llanelli Rural Council Offices, Vauxhall, Llanelli SA15 3BD Tickets FREE but limited (ring Tim on 0796 2804 452 to reserve a seat)

 

  • The highlight of the week will be our annual march on Sat 17 Aug from Llanelli railway station (assemble 11.30 am) to a rally in the town centre and a wreath-laying ceremony at Box Cemetery at the graves of the two who were killed. The theme of the march will be ‘Resistance’ and there will be representatives from various campaign groups – Anti-Cuts, Anti-Bedroom Tax, Anti-Fracking etc, plus speakers from Labour, Plaid and trade unions.

 

Dramatic though these events were, very few people have heard of them. We in the Llanelli 1911 Strike Committee are dedicated to consciousness-raising about the Llanelli Strike and Uprising. We have produced books for use with school and college students, have visited schools and colleges and given talks to historical societies and other groups. We have written articles on the subject – one ‘The Great Unrest and A Welsh Town’ can be read here- http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=744&issue=131 -

For more details, contact Tim on > tim.l.evans@btinternet.com or 0796 2804 452

 

 

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AUGUST 2013 – A WEEK OF COMMEMORATION OF THE GREAT RAILWAY STRIKE & UPRISING

One hundred and two years since the great railway strike. One hundred and two years since troops opened fire on Llanelli strikers and their supporters, killing two & sparking an uprising against the bosses and military.

 

As every year, the Llanelli 1911 Committee is preparing to mark the occasion with a series of events:

 

WED 14 AUGUST

Poems & Pints – music and poetry of struggle & rebellion, with a railway strike theme! Beer & wine too!

Where: ‘The Club’ Queen Victoria Rd

When: 7.30pm ‘til late FREE

 

THURS 15 AUGUST

‘From the Great Unrest of 1911 to the Global Rebellions of 2013’

Where: Llanelli Rural Council Offices, Vauxhall

When: 5.00 – 7.00pm

A panel of writers, politicians & others discuss the significance of the 1911 events and compare the uprisings and revolutions currently sweeping the globe. Speakers will include Jonathan Edwards MP, John Edwards (author ‘Remembrance of a Riot’), Rob Griffiths (Author ‘Killing No Murder’), Tim Evans (author ‘The Great Unrest & a Welsh Town’) Chair: Alice Greenlees (Unison steward) There will be plenty of time for questions & contributions from the audience. Free tickets are limited. Ring Tim Evans on 0796 2804 452 to reserve tickets.

 

SAT 17 AUGUST

March, rally & graveside ceremony. Assemble Llanelli railway station 11.30 am. March will visit where the shooting took place. Rally in town centre. Wreath-laying ceremony at Box Cemetery. Cor Cochion choir will perform. Afterwards meet in Stamps pub town centre for after-march social.

 

If you’d like to get involved, we can be contacted on tim.l.evans@btinternet.com

 

 

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One Hundred Years Ago

A shot rings out. The group of young men gathered by the garden wall stubbornly stand their ground. “Popeth yn iawn! It’s all right!” shouts one, “Blanc yw hi, bois! It’s blank, boys!”

Peidiwch a symud. Don’t move,” he confides to his friend. “Saethan nhw ddim. They won’t shoot.”

Another rifle crack.

“It’s all right, they’ve only got blank cartridges,” someone yells.

Suddenly, a bullet slams into the throat of a man sitting on the wall, driving him backwards into the garden. Everyone runs, someone shouts, “That’s a bastard shot!” Blood splashes the grass. One of the men cries out as a bullet glances off his thumb, bringing down the man behind him.

There is more firing. Three men are down. The two most seriously injured are carried into the house and are laid out, bleeding profusely, on the table in the middle room, where they die. The landlady of the house is weeping uncontrollably – some women have fainted. Men are cursing and shouting. Outside on the railway track Major Brownlow Stuart orders the soldiers of the Worcester Regiment, who have fired the shots, to withdraw to the railway station.

These events occurred not in some beleaguered war zone, but in the back garden of a house in the High Street, Llanelli. The date was August 19, 1911, a hundred years ago next year. It was the last time troops on the British mainland fired on workers during an industrial dispute: the first ever national railway strike, a real rank-and-file revolt over low pay while the railway company was making massive profits. After the shootings, strikers, their supporters and other local people rose up, fighting with soldiers and police in a protest at the injustice the community had suffered at the hands of the military.

Yet talk to anybody about the events of 1911, and you will find that often, even in the town, they will not have heard about them. The name Tonypandy has been seared into the consciousness of the Welsh working class as the epitome of a fierce class battle – and justly so.  But events at Llanelli a year later were arguably a much more serious confrontation. Many of us feel that with the centenary approaching it is time for us to reclaim our history. The 1911 Llanelli Strike Committee – formed this year – is working to ensure that we mark the events in a variety of different ways.  I hope to make clear why there is so much that we can be proud of in the dramatic events of 1911.

 

 

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Llanelli 1911 Railway Strike Centenary March 20/08/11- photos D. Kittay

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The panel at the 1911 Forum – 18 August 2011

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BBC Documentary on the Llanelli Strike

On Tuesday 16 August, BBC Wales premiered a new documentary, presented by Llanelli’s Huw Edwards, on the events of the Llanelli Strike.

You can watch this on BBC iPlayer here.

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75th. Anniversary Photos

Depicted, are speakers in the Spring Gardens, Llanelli, during the 75th. Anniversary of the 1911 Llanelli Railway Strike. They were the Llanelli MP, The Rt.Hon. Denzil Davies MP., Assistant General Secretaries of the Railway Trade Union,Aslef & NUR(RMT), And Joe Jones, Chairman of the 1911 Llanelli Strike Committee, at the time

Below, with the Aslef Banner, is myself, with Black hair, and moustache, along with other Railway Colleagues.

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Banner Design

Banner

Banner design Based on the original “badge” from 1911.

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Rhaglen o Ddigwyddiadau – Programme of Events

Am gopi y rhaglen o ddigwyddiadau, cliciwch yma.

For a printable programme of events, click here.

For further details on most of these individual events, click on our Events page.

Please note that the showing of the documentary entitled Llanelli Riots, presented by Huw Edwards, on the Llanelli Strike will not now take place at Theatr Elli on Saturday 20 August. However, you can watch the documentary, for the next few days at least, on BBC iPlayer, here.

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COPPERWORKS SCHOOL TAKES A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Last Wednesday I was privileged to attend, with other members of the 1911 Committee, Copperworks Infant Nursery School’s musical extravaganza – A Trip Down Memory Lane – an historical journey, through the sights and sounds of Copperworks School and the local area through the years. Mrs Sherlock and her staff had obviously put hours of hard work into this, as had the children, who threw themselves into the performance with gusto.

The musical pieces, such as ‘Cosher Bailey’ took me back to my own childhood, and there was a heart-rending 3-ply tissue re-working of Max Boyce’s Duw it’s Hard.  But especially gripping was the children’s portrayal of the rail strike and the shooting of John John and Leonard Worsell.  Despite the youth of the performers, the strike and its awful conclusion was sensitively but clearly portrayed, and I was hugely impressed, as well as greatly entertained.

Copperworks School has a long and proud history. Originally built by the philanthropic capitalist Richard Nevill for the children of those employed at the Copper works and the nearby collieries at Caemaen and Box, the school was at the heart of the local industry that serviced the British empire. It took seriously its mission to educate the local community.

It was ahead of its time, even extending itself into adult education. The Copper works had its own dock and built its own ships and the legendary Mr John E. Jones, headteacher from 1863 to 1893, held classes in navigation for the mariners.

In August 1911 of course Copperworks School was the storm centre of the railway strike. Not only did the joint union strike committee meet regularly there, but it was there that the crisis meetings between the strikers, the railway company, the magistrates and the police and military took place. It was at the school that the strikers were meeting when the soldiers managed to push the train through on Saturday afternoon, causing the meeting to break up in uproar.

It was heartening to see local teachers and children so aware of their school’s history – a tribute to how history (a declining subject, or so we are told) can be brought to life with a bit of creativity and imagination. It was also inspiring to see a school which is still so clearly a vibrant and central part of its local community.

Many other schools and colleges have taken seriously the centenary of the railway strike. If your school or college has put on any activities, please contact me on this website’s comments page, or at tim.l.evans@btinternet.com or via the Llanelli Star, with details.

 

 

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