On 21st September 2002 stonemason Ray Collins commenced work on a commemorative garden in recognition of the Australian emigrants who arrived on the First Fleet, six of whom were Welsh.
They were not really emigrants at all, but convicts - four men and two women, who arrived with the First Fleet at Botany Bay, Australia, in 1788. By 1852, a total of about 1,800 of the convicts in Australia had been tried in Wales - about 1.2% of the total number of convicts transported to Australia by that time. Of these, only around 300 were women. Many who were transported could speak only Welsh, so they were doubly damned - forced into exile in a strange land, they were often unable to communicate with the majority of convicts who spoke only English.
Welsh transportees in the first half of the 19th century include some familiar figures from the history of the trade union movement in Wales. Lewis Lewis and Richard Lewis (aka Dic Penderyn) were sentenced to death for their part in the Merthyr Riots in 1831. Dic Penderyn, widely considered today to have been Lewis' 'fall-guy', was subsequently hanged, but Lewis himself had his sentence commuted to transportation and was sent to New South Wales. The Chartist leaders John Frost, Zephaniah Williams and William Jones joined Lewis in Australia after bringing about the siege of the Westgate Hotel in Newport in 1839. Frost was later pardoned and returned to Newport a hero.
The numbers of true Welsh emigrants to Australia throughout the early stages of the colony's development were relatively small. But the number of 'free' Welsh settlers before the gold-rushes of the 1850s can't be accurately assessed. There is a lack of reliable official evidence since Wales was swallowed up in the category of 'England and Wales' used in official documentation and procedures at the time. However, other sources can provide reasonably reliable information. For instance, 14 young members of Bethlehem Chapel in Blaenavon, Monmouthshire, are recorded as leaving for Australia during the ministry of Morgan Morgans, between 1828 and 1836. Australian census records indicate that there were about 1,800 Welsh-born settlers in Australia by 1851, a very small number of whom were 'free' settlers.
It was mining that brought significant numbers of Welsh settlers to Australia in the mid 19th century. Initially the discovery of copper in South Australia at Kapunda in 1843 and Burra in 1845 drew people from Wales, but it was the discovery of gold in the Ballarat-Sebastapol area of Victoria in the early 1850s which caused the Welsh population of the province to rise dramatically. In 1851, about 400 of the settlers were Welsh-born, and by 1871 there were almost 7,000 in Victoria. Although the population declined later, in the other provinces of Australia it continued to increase and, by the turn of the century there were 12,000 settlers of Welsh descent spread throughout the colony.
Not all settlers came from the industrialised areas of south Wales to find work in the mines. Joseph Jenkins, a Cardiganshire farmer, fled to Australia in 1868 at the age of 51 to escape a nagging wife! His larger than life exploits as a swagman in rural Victoria were recorded in a series of diaries. New South Wales is, predictably, the province which most conspicuously bears the mark of its old world namesake, with place names like Cardiff, Swansea, Neath and Aberdare amongst many others. It was the chapel and the Welsh language which provided a sense of cohesion and identity to these emerging Welsh communities at this time, not only in New South Wales, but in all the provinces of Australia. Many of the chapels were interdenominational at first, but gradually split into Methodist, Independent and Baptist denominations, just as they had in Wales. The leaders of these chapels were also the leaders of these new communities. They organised Cymanfa Ganu which, in the boomtown years of the 1860s and 1870s, attracted crowds of 800 or more and lasted for several days in Victoria. The leading Welsh-Australian journal of the day, Yr Australydd (The Australian), records weekday meetings and occasions such as Tea Meetings, Band of Hope, Literary Society, Fellowship Meeting and Preaching Assembly, as well as details of the typical Welsh nonconformist Sunday worship.
But it was the other great legacy of the late 18th century Welsh revival, the Eisteddfod, which formed the cornerstone of Welsh cultural traditions in Australia. Its roots in Australia lie in the weekly Literary Society meetings, where proceedings were conducted solely in Welsh. In 1863, the first true Welsh-Australian Eisteddfod was held in Victoria. It proved so popular that it was given the status of a National Eisteddfod and it was rotated annually through some of the larger towns in Victoria. Welsh communities in the other provinces also held Eisteddfodau in the 1870s, although they came under increasing pressure to 'anglicise' proceedings. But the Eisteddfod was in decline by the end of the decade: once again, a relatively small Welsh population dispersed across a new land into an alien society was unable to resist the pressures of assimilation on its second generation. This decline was also visible in the chapels. By the end of the century all denominations had introduced English into their services. Yr Australydd promoted the establishment of a Welsh colony based on the Patagonia model, but there was an unenthusiastic response from the Welsh community. The truth was that the rot had set in Patagonia as well, and in 1910 an exodus began from its Welsh colony to Australia. These immigrants were anxious to escape conscription into the Argentine army, increasing pressure from the government to assume Argentine nationality by ensuring all teaching was in Spanish, and a shortage of suitable farming land in the Chubut Valley.
In September 1938, the Dolaucothi Gold Mine in Mid-Wales was finally closed due to flooding.
All cultures and aeons of human history have used gold as its most valuable resource, its scarcity bestowing wealth on those lucky enough to come across it. When the Romans ruled Britain between the first and fifth centuries AD, they would have looked to control its resources, including gold. Dolaucothi mine in Carmarthenshire was seized upon by the Romans as a useful source of empire's most precious wealth, but they weren't responsible for opening it. It was the neolithic Britons, those of the late Bronze and Iron ages who opened Dolaucothi, perhaps as early as 600 BC. The Romans used slaves for the hard manual labour of extracting the gold deposits and it is thought that serious excavation commenced in 75 AD. The gold was destined for the Imperial Mint in Lyon. It is not clear for how long the working at Dolaucothi by Romans and their slaves went on for and records do not show working there by the Saxons or their successors in the centuries following the Romans' exit of Britain in 410 AD.
It was during the 17th or 18th centuries that mining recommenced at the site on a small scale but it was in the 19th that there was expansion beyond the original open cast. Shafts were sunk into the rock, culminating in a shaft to a depth of 140 metres (460 ft). A large amount of ore was extracted during the 1930s, but after 1938 the mine was no longer used for commercial enterprise. Cardiff University held the lease to work the mine for field training until 1999. The National Trust now own Dolaucothi and it is open to the public.
On 21st September 1987, caravan park owner Mark Tunnicliffe reported seeing the Afanc of Llyn Llangors (Llangorse Lake)
A lake monster from Welsh mythology, the afanc can also be traced through references in British and Celtic folklore. Sometimes described as taking the form of a crocodile, giant beaver or dwarf, it is also said to be a demonic creature. The afanc was said to attack and devour anyone who entered its waters. Various versions of the tale are known to have existed. Iolo Morgannwg, who revived Welsh bardic traditions during the 18th and 19th centuries, popularised a version of the myth that had Hu Gadarn's two long-horned oxen drag the afanc from the lake, enabling it to be killed. An earlier variation on this had the oxen cast the afanc into Llyn Ffynnon Las (lake of the blue fountain), where it was unable to breach its rocky banks to escape. In one telling the wild thrashings of the afanc caused flooding which drowned all the people of Britain, save two, Dwyfan and Dwyfach. Another has a maiden who tamed the afanc by letting it sleep in her lap, which allowed her fellow villagers to capture it. When the afanc awoke its struggles crushed the maiden.
Later legends had King Arthur or Peredur slaying the monster. Near Llyn Barfog is a rock with a hoof print carved into it, along with the words Carn March Arthur (stone of Arthur's horse), supposedly made when his steed, Llamrai, dragged the afanc from the deep. The afanc has been variously known as the addanc, adanc, addane, avanc, abhac and abac. Several sites lay claim to its domain, among them Llyn Llion, Llyn Barfog ad Llyn-yr-Afanc (the Afanc Pool), a lake in Betws-y-Coed.
The earliest known literary reference to the afanc is in a poem by the 15th century Welsh poet, Lewys Glyn Cothi. An extract reads:
Yr avanc er ei ovyn- The afanc am I, who, sought for, bides
Wyv yn llech ar vin y llyn;- In hiding on the edge of the lake;
O don Llyn Syfaddon vo- Out of the waters of Syfaddon Mere
Ni thynwyd ban aeth yno:- Was be not drawn, once he got there.
David Charles Giles (born 21 September 1956 in Cardiff) is a former Wales soccer international. During his career he attained 12 caps for Wales, scoring on two occasions.
Giles was a Welsh schoolboy international when he signed for Cardiff City. He made his debut for the Bluebirds in a 0-0 draw against Nottingham Forest in February 1975. Unable to hold down a permanent first team spot he left the club in December 1978 for £20,000 and joined Wrexham where he spent two years before again moving on, this time for £40,000 to Swansea City. He continued to move around in the next few seasons, playing for Leyton Orient on loan before moving to Crystal Palace and then Birmingham City.
After a spell at Newport County he returned to the club where he started his career, Cardiff City. Giles then played for Stroud. He later joined Barry Town on a part-time basis eventually retiring there. In 1994 he became manager of League of Wales side Ebbw Vale. He later had a short spell in charge of Inter Cardiff, jointly with his brother Paul.
Giles was a regular analyst for ITV Wales on the late night football magazine show Wales Soccer Night until its axing in December 2005. He also works as a journalist and previously wrote a regular sports column in the South Wales Echo covering Cardiff City and the Wales team.