Category Archives: Events

Digwyddiadau y Gorffenol. Past Events

Plaid Conference Lecture

“Relevance of the writings of Drs DJ and Noelle Davies to Wales today”

Darlithydd/Lecturer            Dr Hywel Davies

Cadeirydd /Chair                Steffan Lewis AC

                 4pm Friday 3 Mawrth

               Room 2 Dance Studio*

Translation facilities will be available

*Dim sodlau stiletto/*no stiletto heels

 

1947 – The War Office Creating Havoc in Wales

1947 – The War Office Creating Havoc in Wales (as told by two cuttings in Plaid Cymru’s Welsh-language paper, Y Ddraig Goch)

1947 Tregaron Y Ddraig Goch TachweddWHY?

Because the War Office was considering a takeover of 27,000 acres of agricultural land in the Tregaron area to provide a training camp for the Royal Engineers. This followed similar actions in Penyberth, Epynt, the Preseli mountains etc.  Later on, enlargement of the military camp at Bronaber near Trawsfynydd was also considered. Plaid Cymru led the opposition to all these in turn.

WHEN?

The campaign to save Tregaron in particular was fought between the autumn of 1947 and the summer of 1948.  The date of the protest seen in these two cuttings was Thursday, 16 October 1947.

WHERE?

The protest seen in the two images (‘the procession of flags’) took place in Park Place, Cardiff on Thursday, 16 October 1947.  On that day, the War Office was staging a conference with other government ministries to discuss the plans.  Dozens of telegrams were presented from all parts of Wales opposing the proposal to the Town and Country Planning official in Park Place that morning.

1947 Hydref 22 Baner ac Amserau CymruWHO?

Plaid Cymru led the campaign in Tregaron, in cooperation with local farmers and Undeb Cymru Fydd.  The protest in Cardiff was specifically organised by Plaid Cymru, with 20 party members taking part.  In the second picture, the procession is led by Nans Jones who worked in Plaid’s office in Cardiff.  She can be seen in the first picture too, standing second on the right next to the General Secretary J. E. Jones, (who is standing on the pavement).

WHAT was the result?

Some battles were won, others lost.  This was among those that were won, and the War Office gave up its plans to take over land in Tregaron by the summer of 1948.


1958 Conference by Philip Lloyd

The Plaid Conference and Summer School were held in Merthyr Tudful in 1958. The location was the grammar school in Cyfarthfa Castle, the old home of the Crawshays, where the family could look out across the valley on their profitable business, Cyfarthfa iron works.

The three photographs show discussions at the conference in the school hall. Sitting at the table on the stage are Dr R. Tudur Jones (Vice-President, Blaid), Gwynfor Evans (President), J.E. Jones (General Secretary) and Emrys Roberts (Assitant Secretary). Although this conference was held during the period of the ban on Plaid Cymru from Radio and Television by the Labour Party and Tories, there must have been some attention given in the media; the BBC microphone can be seen in each photograph.

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Llun 1: Unknown speaker. Anyone know who he is?

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Llun 2: the speaker is Trefor Beasley, I believe. Am I correct? On the table beyond the stage are the translators, Meirion Lloyd Davies and Chris Rees. Meirion told me later that there was no simultaneous-translation equipment available at that time: the translators would take notes while the speech was in progress and after it was finished the translator would rise to give an English summary for the non Welsh speaking members.

Meirion was a Prebyterian minister throght his life. Chris had fought Gower in the 1955 General Election. He moved to Swansea East for 1959, when we were both teachers at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, Y Rhyl. And when Blaid had a brief five minutes on the radio and television in 1965 he was responsible for the radio brodcast with Gwynfor on the televison.

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Llun 3: the speaker is Arthur Donaldson, SNP representative (he became leader in 1960). On the wall behind Emrys Roberts there is a poster announcing a public meeting organised by the Blaid against the H-bomb, to be held during the conference in a chapel in the town, with speeches by Dr Glyn [O.] Phillips, Gwynfor Evans and Michael Scott from the Direct Action Committee against nuclear war . The Direct Action Committee (1957-1961) was a pacifist group established in response to one on the H-bomb tests on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean between 1956 and 1967. The aim was ‘the conducting of non-violent direct action to obtain the total renunciation of nuclear war and its weapons by Britain and all other countries as a first step in disarmament’.

Empire Games Cardiff 1958, by Philip Lloyd

The Plaid’s main office was upstairs in a building on Queen Street, Cardiff at that time. A supply of programmes was obtained for sale to the public with the proceeds going to the Blaid. In the picture Glyn James can be seen selling at the entrance at the bottom of the stairs. Note the English name of the Blaid.

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Ebbw Vale By-election 1960

1960 By-election

The Ebbw Vale by-election, 17 November 1960

Philip Lloyd

This election followed the death of Aneirin Bevan. I went there to help during the October half-term week, together with fellow Ysgol Glan Clwyd (Rhyl) teacher Gwilym Hughes. We stayed with local party members Mr and Mrs Dewi Samuel. Gwilym later stood as Plaid Cymru candidate in general elections for East Flint, West Flint and Conwy, as well as being elected to Rhyl Urban District Council. His Welsh Nation cartoon depicting Wilson and Douglas-Home leading a two-party procession carrying banners inscribed: ‘Ban Plaid’ is an cutting comment on the joint Labour-Tory collusion to deny party political broadcasts to Plaid Cymru.

The photographs I took that week depict, variously:-

Plaid Cymru candidate Emrys Roberts with car-mounted loudspeaker and talking to voters
The Party’s Tredegar office
Large election posters on hoardings
A Tredegar medical surgery, dating from the local community-funded provision on which Aneirin Bevan based the NHS during the post-1945 Labour government

Also two photographs of illegal broadcasting during the election campaign (included in my collection of ‘Radio Wales’ photographs)

The result:-
Michael Foot (Labour)                                                 20,528
Sir Brandon Rhys Williams, Bart (Tory)                        3,799
Patrick Lort-Phillips (Liberal)                                         3,449
Emrys Roberts (Plaid Cymru)                                       2,091

Turnout: 76.1%

Emrys Roberts' Speech 1960

First Parliamentary Election Campaign in Flintshire 1959

PLAID CYMRU’S FIRST PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN FLINTSHIRE

Philip Lloyd

Nefyl Williams was Plaid Cymru’s first Parliamentary candidate in Flintshire, when the county was 1959 Nefyl Williamsdivided into two constituencies: East and West. He stood in 1959 in Flint West, which extended from inland St Asaph and coastal Rhyl and Colwyn Bay in the west to Holywell and Mold in the east and included numerous villages. Industrial Flint and Deeside and the detached rural area of Maelor beyond Wrexham (bordered mainly by Cheshire and Shropshire) were all in Flint East.

I first met Nefyl in August 1958, when he chaired one of the discussion groups in the Summer School held in conjunction with the Party’s annual conference at Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tudful. Tall, silver-haired and soft-spoken, he made an immediate impression on me as he guided our deliberations with skill and patience. Little did I realize at the time that, within weeks, I would be part of Plaid’s organisation in his native north-east Wales. In the September I embarked on my teaching career in the county town of Mold and was soon invited to be a member of the Flint West Pwyllgor Rhanbarth (Constituency Committee).

As I state above, Plaid Cymru first contested that constituency in 1959. It came as a surprise and a challenge to us, since we hadn’t thought of Rhyl, Mold etc as being promising politically. But Party President Gwynfor Evans thought otherwise. He came to a Pwyllgor Rhanbarth meeting and suggested in his gentlemanly but persuasive way that we contest the next election. I must confess that my immediate reaction was one of amused incredulity. But Gwynfor’s view prevailed. We have, by now, fought Flint West and its successor Delyn (minus St Asaph, Rhyl and Prestatyn but including Flint) ever since. Also Flint East from 1966 onwards (and the later Alyn and Deeside, minus Flint and Maelor), with Gwilym Hughes, my colleague at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, Rhyl (the country’s first Welsh-medium secondary school) as candidate on the first two occasions.

Who was to be Plaid Cymru’s first candidate? Gwynfor proffered a name: Richard Hall Williams, lecturer at Connah’s Quay College of Further Education. He wasn’t a party member, but obviously highly regarded by Gwynfor (both hailed from Barry). Sadly, by now deceased, he was later responsible for agriculture at the Welsh Office, and his wife Nia became joint editor of the Welsh-language women’s periodical Hon with Marion Arthur Jones. The late Professor Stephen J. Williams famously and successfully defended its right to be so called when the publishers of She objected. ‘Hon’ did not mean ‘She’, he maintained, but ‘this feminine thing’. Who could argue with such a distinguished academic!

To revert to Plaid Cymru and 1959. A three-man deputation was detailed to visit Richard Hall Williams at his home near the college. Led by Nefyl as Pwyllgor Rhanbarth chairman, it included Len Davies of Mold and myself. The clear understanding was that if our invitation were declined Nefyl would be candidate. Declined it was, amicably. So I hold the honour (?) of being among those few who first knew that Nefyl Williams was to be the party’s standard-bearer in that unpromising part of the country – all thanks to Gwynfor.

Nefyl was a product of industrial Deeside and had been employed on strategic work at the John Summers steelworks in Shotton during World War II. He then qualified as a teacher and taught art at the Alun Grammar School, Mold. He and his wife Myfanwy learned Welsh as adults and ensured that their son Gwynfor received Welsh-medium education in a county which pioneered in the field, led by inspirational Director of Education Dr B. Haydn Williams. The Welsh spelling of his forename, clearly a modification of ‘Neville’, is an indication of his adherence to the national tongue. But, when Mold’s Ysgol Maes Garmon (secondary, Welsh-medium) was opened in 1961, he declined an invitation to apply for the post of Head of Art because, he said with typical and unnecessary modesty, his Welsh was not good enough.

In the meeting held at Prestatyn to adopt Nefyl formally as candidate, he was introduced from the chair by the Reverend R.R. Jones as ‘Nefyl Williams B.A’, not in respect of his academic qualifications (he was not a graduate) but as a recognition of his personality: on this occasion ‘B.A.’ represented the words ‘bachgen annwyl’ [dear boy].

The results of the election were as follows:-

Nigel Birch (Conservative)                 20.446 (52.05%)

Ronald Waterhouse (Labour)             12.925 (32.90%)

L.E. Roberts (Liberal)                                       4,319 (10.99%)

Nefyl Williams (Plaid Cymru)              1,594 (4.06%)

Nefyl was named on the ballot paper as ‘E.N.C. Williams’. The ‘E’ stood for Ernest; the ‘C’ for Coppack, a common Deeside surname.

Those days, public meetings were held at election times. D.J. Thomas, stalwart Plaid member and head-teacher of Ysgol Hiraddug (the primary school at the village of Diserth) played a major part in this aspect of our campaign together with agent Miss Ceri Ellis. Times were arranged for the major towns and itineraries drawn up combining several villages each evening. D.J. also insisted that we hold a post-election ‘celebration’ at the Urdd Hall in Diserth to congratulate Nefyl on his vote.

While the votes were being counted at the Alun School, those cast for the Labour candidate were so numerous that some of the space for Nefyl’s ballot papers was re-allocated to that party. ‘He’s doing jolly well’, observed Nigel Birch generously to me, pointing to the apparently strong support for Plaid Cymru. It did not please me to correct the impression wrongly conveyed!

Nefyl Williams stood for a second time in 1964. The results were:-

Nigel Birch (Conservative)                 18,515 (45.7%)

William H. Edwards (Labour)            13,298 (32.8%)

D. Martin Thomas (Liberal)                  7,482 (18.5)

Nefyl Williams (Plaid Cymru)              1,195 (3.0%)

I was a newcomer to Flintshire when I started teaching there in September 1958; so I was not fully aware of the work done by Plaid members previously. It would therefore be invidious of me to mention any more names. In fact, I might never have been involved in the 1959 campaign at all. Nefyl, Ceri and I were all teachers employed by Flintshire County Council. So was Chris Rees, who, like me, was teaching at Ysgol Glan Clwyd at the time; he was released to be Plaid candidate in Swansea East (where he was to gain 10.5% of the votes). I had hoped to be agent to John Howell in the party’s first election campaign in Caerffili. But Flintshire’s Deputy Director of Education M.J. Jones (a long-standing Plaid member) thought it unwise for four teachers from the same party (two of them from the same high-profile Welsh-medium school) to be released. John’s agent in that election (with an 8.82% vote) was gas salesman Alf Williams, whom I refer to elsewhere in the Society’s website in connection with the illegal radio broadcasts of the 1960s.