Huw Llywelyn Rees


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8th November

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By: Huw Llywelyn Rees
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The Tonypandy riots started on 7th November 1910 and continued unabated for almost two days. They involved violent clashes between striking miners and the Glamorgan Constabulary, reinforced by both the Bristol and Metropolitan police forces. Home Secretary Winston Churchill also sent in troops to the area to reinforce the police shortly after the riot, a decision that caused ill feeling towards him in south Wales.

The strike ground on for several months although the violence of the initial riots in Tonypandy was rarely repeated and finally ended in August 1911. It left bitter scars in the Rhondda, particularly as the miners were forced to return to work after agreeing to a paltry sum for the coal extracted. Churchill was, until his dying day, reviled by many as "the man who sent in the troops", and remains unpopular in the South Wales valleys to this day.

320px-Clock_Tower_-_Palace_of_Westminster,_London_-_September_2006 Big-ben-1858

"Big Ben" is named after a Welshman.

Born on this day 1802, Sir Benjamin Hall, 1st Baron Llanover, a politician who as First Commissioner of Works was responsible for Government building projects. This included the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament and the installation of the hour bell, "Big Ben", in the clock tower. The nickname "Big Ben" was given to the Great Bell in honour of Sir Benjamin, whose name is inscribed on it.

As MP for Monmouth, Sir Benjamin campaigned to have religious services in Welsh. He was also outspoken on the issue of the state of the Anglican church in Wales and deplored the exploitation of church revenues. He was married to Augusta Waddington, better known as Lady Llanover, the well known patron of the Welsh arts.


Born on this day 1986 in Newport.

Jamie Roberts - Wales and Lions rugby international, who is regarded as one of the finest centres in world rugby. Roberts began as a fullback but was moved to inside centre when Welsh coach Warren Garland felt that Roberts would give Wales physicality in midfield.

Roberts was crucial in the Grand Slam campaigns of 2008 and 2012 and was named the Lions Player of the Series during the 2009 Lions Tour Of South Africa. Roberts completed a medical degree at the University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff in 2013, after 8 years of combining his studying with his rugby career.

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Born on this day 1903 in Cardiff.

Ronald Lockley - World renowned naturalist and author;

* In 1927, with his first wife Doris Shellard, he took a 21-year lease of the island of Skokholm off the western tip of Pembrokeshire, and attempted to make a living from selling and breeding rabbits.

* In 1933 he established the first British bird observatory on Skokholm, carrying out extensive pioneering research on breeding Manx Shearwaters, Atlantic Puffins and European Storm-petrels.

* With Julian Huxley he made one of the first professional nature films, The Private Life of the Gannets (1934), which won an Oscar.

* He played a leading role in setting up the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in 1952, and in mapping out the Pembrokeshire coastal footpath.

* He wrote over fifty books, including The Private Life of the Rabbit (1964), which inspired The plot of Watership Down by Richard Adams

* His belief that successive British governments were not sufficiently aware of the threat to the landscape from industrial development led to his decision to emigrate to New Zealand in 1970, where he continued to write and to travel among the islands of Polynesia and in the Antarctic.

* Lockley was awarded an Honorary MSc by the University of Wales in 1977, in recognition of his distinction as a naturalist.

* In 1993 he was awarded the Union Medal of the British Ornithologists Union.


On 8th of November 1867, two underground explosions claimed the lives of 178 men and boys in Ferndale.

The rescue attempt was hindered by foul air and roof falls, and it was over a month before the badly burnt and disfigured bodies could be brought to the surface. The accident report blamed the mine operators and warned that a similar accident could occur unless conditions underground improved. They were proved right, and on June 10th 1869 another gas explosion killed 53 men at the same pit. A second enquiry again blamed the mine owners, but no penalties were paid.


On 8th November 1927, 270 South Wales people marched to London, in protest against the Ministry of Health who had refused and limited the relief notes given to unemployed miners and their families.

The march was called for by A. J. Cook, the miners' leader at the time, during a demonstration on 18 September 1927 — 'Red Sunday in Rhondda Valley'. The march went ahead, with each marcher carrying a miner's safety lamp, in spite of hostility from the trades unions, press and government. However, they were supported in every town and village they passed through, including, Bath, Bristol and Swindon.

The 270 marchers came from all the South Wales mining valleys, and two died on the way. One of these, John Supple of Tonyrefail who died after catching pneumonia, wrote in his last letter to his wife, 'Don't worry about me. Think of me as a soldier in the Workers' Army. Remember that I have marched for you and others in want.'

A song sung by the marchers 'A Rhondda Rebel Song (to the tune of Cwm Rhondda)' was later released in memory of the two men who died;

Workers of all lands united,
Marching onwards steadfast, true,
Hopes of Kings and Tyrants blighted,
We shall build this world anew,
Long live Freedom! Long live Freedom!
Chains are shattered, we are free.


Born on this day 1974 in Cardiff.

Matthew Rhys, an actor best known for his role as Kevin Walker in "Brothers and Sisters". Rhys attended the Welsh-medium Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Melin Gruffydd, in Cardiff, before training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.


Born on this day 1941 in Rhyl

Nerys Hughes actress, known primarily for her television role in the BBC series The Liver Birds. She later took the lead role in The District Nurse, a series which was devised especially for her, and for which she won the Variety Club Television Actress of the Year Award.


The Licensing Act 1961 was enacted on 8th November 1961, following a national referendum to decide whether to keep pubs shut on Sundays. The result of the referendum was divided, with rural counties in West, Mid and North Wales electing to close pubs on Sundays and counties in South Wales voting to open them. The Act allowed local authorities in Wales to hold polls every seven years and by 1996, all areas had removed the ban.

The referendum was held because The Sunday Closing (Wales) Act 1881 had become increasingly unpopular. The 1881 act was the first Act since the union between England and Wales in 1535–42 which applied only to Wales. This was a significant precedent for subsequent legislation as it recognised Wales as having a distinct and separate character.

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