history

Swansea’s rebel women

February 18, 2018 9 Comments
Swansea’s rebel women

For all their strengths in the campaign to gain votes for women Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst were by nature autocratic.  In 1907 some members of their Women’s Social and Political Union took exception to their announcement that the WSPU’s annual conference would be cancelled in future and that they themselves and their inner circle would […]

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Dr Thurley crosses the border

January 28, 2018 10 Comments
Dr Thurley crosses the border

Last year Ken Skates AM, then the Cabinet member responsibility for culture, commissioned a museum director from London, Dr Simon Thurley, to make recommendations on the running of the National Museum of Wales.  (Technically the Museum’s latest English title is Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, a clumsy formulation which shows what trouble you get […]

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Boy in a window

October 15, 2017 2 Comments
Boy in a window

An old, long-abandoned factory in Swansea’s Strand.  It has two storeys, a stone wall at its base and a corrugated roof.  Below, the windows are boarded or blacked out.  Upstairs, where ragged glass hangs in the smashed panes, one window frame’s open.  At its base a round-faced young boy, with dark hair and jug ears, […]

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William Jones, Glynneath, 100 years on

October 8, 2017 0 Comments
William Jones, Glynneath, 100 years on

Almost exactly 100 years ago, at 6:25am on 25 October 1917, a terrible thing was done to a young man from Glynneath named William Jones.  A group of soldiers from the Worcestershire Regiment formed a firing squad and shot him dead as a punishment for deserting his post on the Western Front. William, probably a […]

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Is it time for a National Trust of Wales?

September 1, 2017 2 Comments
Is it time for a National Trust of Wales?

There was a time when the National Trust was invulnerable and beyond criticism.  Its aims are so obviously virtuous, and the experience of visiting its sites so rewarding that anyone bold enough to question its ethos or ways of working would have been seen as eccentric.  The Trust is still one of the most popular […]

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John Ystumllyn: an African in 18th century Eifionydd

August 27, 2017 8 Comments
John Ystumllyn: an African in 18th century Eifionydd

It wasn’t his real name, ‘John Ystumllyn’, but one the locals gave him. Another was ‘Jac Du’ or ‘Jack Black’. How he arrived, unwillingly, in north Wales is obscure. What is certain is that his origins were in Africa, and that he found a home for himself and his family in the Criccieth area in […]

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Reading and silence

August 20, 2017 1 Comment
Reading and silence

I’m working my way, slowly – that seems the best way – through Sara Maitland’s A book of silence, and I’ve reached the part where she discusses the paradoxical relationship between reading and silence.  On the one hand, reading the way we do it today is a silent communion between writer and reader.  Silent, on […]

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Mr Skates’s ring cycle

July 28, 2017 11 Comments
Mr Skates’s ring cycle

The row over the ‘Iron Ring’ proposed for Flint Castle seems to be over, so the time is right to think more calmly about what we’ve learnt. First, a quick summary of what happened (there is an ignominious prequel, which I’ll skip).  Cadw, responsible for safeguarding scheduled historic monuments in Wales, together with Visit Wales, the […]

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‘The Llanboidy molecatcher’ gan James Lewis Walters

July 22, 2017 0 Comments
‘The Llanboidy molecatcher’ gan James Lewis Walters

Sylwais i ar y llun am y tro cyntaf llynedd. Ar y pryd roeddwn i’n chwilio am bethau eraill yn Amgueddfa Sir Gâr, yn hen Balas yr Esgob yn Abergwili. Hongiai’r llun yn swil, mewn lle anamlwg y tu ôl i ddrws. Ei destun eithriadol ac arddull medrus a ddenodd fy llygad gyntaf. Arhosodd y llun […]

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Remembering Walter Conway

June 30, 2017 5 Comments
Remembering Walter Conway

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been in and around Tredegar – Tredegar as it is today, but mostly Tredegar as it was in the first part of the twentieth century.  Most people know about the town’s best known resident, Aneurin Bevan, and many know about Bevan’s pre-War experience of the pioneering services run […]

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