Neolithic (4500-2100 BC)

Long barrows are from this period, or more normally just the remains of the rock slab tomb that underlay such mounds. These are generally called dolmens, but in Wales are called cromlechs.

Bronze Age (2100- about 700 BC)

Large number of standing stones, although no generally accepted evidence that these do come from the Bronze Age. The word for these stones menhir comes from the Welsh maen hir, long stone. Other remains are round barrows.

Iron Age

The arrival of the Celts, sometime between 760-700 BC. from Central Europe. Many hill forts were built.


The Romans arrived in Britain in 43 AD. When they arrived, they recorded four tribes in Wales - the Ordovices and Deceangli in the North, the Demetae and Silures in the South.

They were resisted by the Silures of South Wales and the Ordovicians of North Wales, under Caractacus. The names of these tribes live on in the names of early geological ages. However the hill forts were no match for the Romans.

The Romans destroyed the Druids in the base in Anglesey. According to Tacitus, Agricola crossed the Menai Straits to take Anglesey, reportedly massacring the island's inhabitants who were of the Druid faith. Tacitus doesn't spare us the details, giving a vivid account of wild-haired women and barbarian Druids who created a formidable line on the shore opposite the mainland. The Druids were nonetheless conquered and their base on Mona (modern-day Anglesey) was broken up.

Two legionary forts were built at Caerleon and Deva (Chester), the latter being in England (just).

The Celts have left little written records.

The English invasions of Britain

These invasions began in the years after the Romans left. The Battle of Dyrham in 577AD is considered to be the event which separated the Britons of Wales from the Britons of Cornwall.

In the eigth Century Offa's Dyke was built separating Wales from England (or more correctly the English kingdom of Mercia).

'Wales' comes into existence

Wales existed as a number of different kingdoms (as indeed did England for most of the time), although Gwynedd had a dominating position.

Rhodri Mawr, King of Gwynedd, brings most of Wales under his control. He gained fame for defeating the Vikings in Anglesey in 856. In reality, not much is known about Rhodri, yet later generations gave him the name Mawr (the Great), an 'honor' shared by Alfred and Charlemagne from the same century.

After Rhodri's unity fell apart after his death, it was 'restored' again by his grandson, Hywel Dda - although it fell apart again after Hywel's death (a general feature of this period). The 'Law of Hywel' was a standardization of welsh law.

Around the turn of the millenium, wales was still the object of many Viking raids.

1039 Grufydd ap Llewellyn annihilated a Mercian force near Welshpool.

In 1041, North and Central Wales was unified under Grufydd ap Llywelyn,

1046 Grufydd allied with Swein Godwin in an infamous raid of South Wales. Events in Wales and on the way home brought Swein, the eldest son of Earl Godwin, into great disfavor with the English court. Soon after, in 1049, Grufydd ap Rhydderch, king of South Wales since 1044, invaded the Marches around the Forest of Dean as revenge, just as England was threatened from the other direction by a raid from Flanders. King Edward felt free to retaliate in 1053 and sent a death squad to decapitate Gruffydd's brother. Grufydd himself retaliated by ambushing an English patrol near Westbury on the Severn.

In 1055, Gruffydd ap Llewellyn murdered his southern namesake and proclaimed himself King of all Wales. They attacked and razed Hereford. Wales was invaded by the English, under Earl Harold Godwinson, but the Welsh army melted away. Nevertheless the military threat was removed and Gruffydd only lost a small area of territory to the west of the Dee.

In 1056, the new Bishop of Hereford, Leofgar, made battle with the Welsh but was defeated and killed at Glasbury-on-Wye. Harold, on his return from Europe, patched up an new agreement with the Welsh.

At Christmas 1062, Edward the Confessor decided to assassinate Gruffydd. Harold was put in charge of a squad charged to surprise Gruffydd at his castle in Rhuddlan. Gruffydd esaped at the last moment, and Harold could not pursue him in the prevailing winter conditions.

In 1063, harold invaded from the South while his brother Tostig invaded from the North. The two armies met in Mid Wales. After three months of fighting the welsh surrended and acquiesced in Harold's request that they assassinate their own King, which they did after finding him in Snowdonia. Gruffydd's head was presented by them to Harold. North Wales was divided between Gruffydd's half-brothers - Bleddyn and Rhiwallon. Wales itself degenerated into petty principalities, etc. Harold built a castle at Portskewet in Gwent. He announced he would marry Ealdgyth, Gruffydd's widow.

In 1065, Harold invaded Glamorgan in response to an action of Rhiryd, ruler in the area. In August, Caradoc, son of Gruffydd ap Rhydderch, attacked Harold's new castle workings, killing many of the workers.

The Normans

In 1069, a Welsh/English rebel army penetrated England as far as Stafford, before being routed by an army lead by Guillaume the Conqueror himself.

1081 William Rufus leads a camapign against the princes of Gwent. Guillaume the Conqueror and Rufus march right across South Wales as far as St. Davids with the purpose of intimidating and impressing the Welsh rulers. A Norman castle was built in Cardiff.

The Normans initiated a number of semi-independent Marcher kingdoms along the boundary with Wales.These Marcher lords attempted to push westwards (very successfully) on their own account.

1093 - Bernard de Neufmarché, half-brother of Guillaume, founds Brecon Castle.

During the rebellion against William 2 in England, the Welsh became more restless. On the other hand, William of Eu, lord of Chepstow, was using the opportunity to plunder royal estates.

1093 Rufus invaded large areas of South Wales.

1109 Henry 1 of England campaigned in Wales. He had a liaison with princess Nest of Deheubarth, which produced a son, Henry.

Owain ap Grufudd (Owain Gwynedd) in the North and Rhys ap Grufudd in the South took advantage of the troubles between Stephen and Matilda in England (after 1135) to extend their possessions. They expelled the Normans from much of Deheubarth and Dyfed and by 1153 had added Ceredigion. Owain followed this by taking Chester and annexing parts of Powys. This last act brought him into conflict with the new English king, Henry II. Henry entered Wales and contained the princes, but was himself distracted by his problems with Thomas a Becket. The Welsh seem to have united under Owain Gwynedd and regained much of their territory, seizing also the castle at Rhuddlan. A counter attack by Henry was defeated in the Berwyns. Henry II moved to turn an enemy into an ally. Henry appointed Rhys ap Grufudd as his justice in south Wales, recognized Rhys' right to the territories he controlled and made the southern Welsh lords Rhys' vassals. With the death of Owain Gwynedd in 1170, Rhys ap Grufudd now bestrode the Welsh world. At this point in Welsh history a peculiar change took place. Over the course of a generation it seems that the Welsh kings, of which there were many, were replaced by Welsh princes, of which there only two worth noting, in Gwynedd and Deheubarth. Even the rulers of once-powerful Powys had to be content with the second-rate title of "lord".

Rhys returned to Cardigan in the summer 1171, to rebuild the castle and town.

Christmas 1175. William de Braose, Norman lord of Abergavenny invited the Gwent chieftains to Abergavenny Castle, but had them all murdered. In 1198, he slaughtered 3000 troops of Gwenwynwyn, the Prince of Powys, who attempted to attack de Braose at Painscastle.

1187 Archbishop Baldwin sets off from New Radnor to preach the Third Crusade, accompanied by Gerald Cambriensis (Baldwin later crowned Richard 1).

Llywelyn the Great became leader of Gwynwedd in 1203 and obtained rights for Wales in Magna Carta. By 1240 he had made major territorial advances against the English.

English Invasion of Wales

However, the grandson of Llewellyn the Great, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, became the last leader of an independent Wales. He had obtained the title of Prince of Wales from Henry 3. in 1267 - the Treaty of Montgomery recognized Welsh independence. But Edward 1. invaded the country, which was confirmjed in the first instance by the Treaty of Aberconwy in 1277.

Llywelyn was killed in 1282, after resisting further. Dafydd, his brother, continued the fight until 1283. He was hung, drawn and quartered at Shrewsbury for 'treason'

1294 Madryn (Madoc ap Llewelyn) launched a counter-attack, besieging Harlech.

Owain Glyndwr

Owain Glyndwr on a separate page


1475 Henry Tudor,from the Welsh family of the same name, becomes King (of England and Wales). He excels himself by refusing assistance to Christopher Columbus, who eventually finds the monarchs of Spain willing to help him to reach Asia, only 25,000 kilometers away, by financing three leaky boats.

1524-1534 Bishop Rowland Lee, President of the Council of Wales, claimed to have hung 5,000 people in Wales to eliminate chronic disorder.

1536 and 43 England and Wales become 'united', with English legal systems and way of doing things being introduced. The English shire system is also adopted, with 13 Welsh counties.

1550s Robert Recorde professes support for the Copernican theory.

There no records of any witches ever being put to death in Wales (in contrast to England and Scotland). Likewise, there are no records of Lollards being executed.

During the time of Elizabeth, William Morgan translates the Bible into Welsh. Previous;ly Henry 8 had banned the official use of the language.

Revolution / Civil War

The Revolution (so-called Civil War) on a separate page


1748 The Dowlais works established

1759 John Guest, from Stafford, came to manage the Dowlais works, and established the Plymouth Works in 1763. Cyfartha founded, by Bacon / Brownrigg. It was later bought by Richard Crawshay, from Yorkshire. Bacon bought the Plymouth works, and made his fortune by making cannons during the American War of Independence.

1784 Francis Homfray, also from Stafford, sets up the Penydarren Works. Demand is sustained by the Napoleonic Wars.

1788 Copper output is worth twice as much the cast-iron output.

1790 Milford established for the whaling industry.

1797 The last attempted invasion of Britain actually to land on British soil took place in 1797. The original plan was for a three-pronged attack on different parts of Britain. However only the group under the command of an American, Tate, actually succeeded in landing, in the neighborhood of Fishguard. His main target was Liverpool and he obviously had wanted originally to land further north. His 1.400 troops were, by all accounts, mostly ill-trained and undisciplined and he surrended after only 3 days, from his base at Llanwnda, just above Goodwick.

1799 David Jones, a wealthy farmer and drover, opened the Bank of the Black Ox. The name showed the strong link between Welsh Black Cattle, Droving and Banking. When the bank was sold to Lloyds Bank in 1909, it was the last private bank in West Wales.

Nineteenth Century

At the turn of the century, Merthyr Tydfil, a town based primarily on iron-working and with a population of 7.000, is considered by some sources to be far and away the largest town in Wales, . However, the population of the area of present-day Swansea was larger, at 10.000 - 90% of Britain's copper and brass industry is situated in the Swansea area.

During the 'general' period of the French Revolution, there is much disturbance in Wales. Details here.

Dissenters account for about 15% of the population, but this will increase as the century progresses.

Oats are the predominant crop. Agriculture has just about reached the stage whereby animals can be kept for long periods, instead of them all being slaughtered on All Saints Day.

This century would see the population increase from 1 million to 3 million. During the latter part of the century, South-East Wales is second only to the USA as a center of immigration.

1806 Cyfartha Philosophical Society founded - Welsh counterpart of the Lunar Society.

1815 Garrison at Brecon established.

1819 The Gorsedd is linked with eisteddfodau.

1820 Swansea produced 90% of Britain's copper products, as well as a large proportion of zinc, lead and silver (as well as tinplate). In North Wales, Gwynedd produces 90% of British slate.

Bank Note from the Bank of the Black Sheep


  • (carrying on until 1826) Many banks fail, including the Bank of the Black Sheep (The Aberystwyth and Tregaron Bank) and all banks in Pembrokeshire. Many people lose their savings. These banks had come into being in the first years of the napoleonic Wars when the Bank of England had suspended cash payments (in1797). They issued notes which provided most of the currency in the region.

  • Ebbw Vale produces rails for the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

1826 Telford's Menai Bridge opened. Telford's Menai Bridge


  • Wales's own judicial system, the 300-year-old Great Sessions, are abolished. Wales is absorbed into England with respect to legal and administrative affairs.

  • The population of Merthyr was 60,000. The population of Cardiff at the time was about 1000.

  • No contests take place in the General Election.

  • Life expectancy in Merthyr is 20 - Three-quarters of deaths are children under 5.

1831 Merthyr Uprising


  • In the election no seats were contested

  • Another banking crisis. Waters, Jones and Company of Carmarthen go bankrupt after having 'lent money contrary to every principle of common sense'.

1834 Corwen Workhouse

The Poor Law Amendment Act is passed, which stops the issuing of relief to poor people at home. People who wanted relief had to move to a workhouse, and conditions in these workhouses were kept as bad as possible in order to discourage people from entering.

Parishes were grouped into Unions - there were 48 Unions in Wales - and each Union had to provide a workhouse. Click on photo of Corwen Workhouse for details of Welsh workhouses.

1837 The discovery of galvanization stimulates the zinc industry of Swansea.

1838 Rebecca protests start.


  • Chartist Protests

  • The route used by the Irish Mail in the South required improvement had been surveyed by Telford. The upgraded route, which included some completely new sections opened in this year. It now ran to Hobb's Point (Pembroke Road) as Telford had recommended. Costs turned out to be about 7 times (at least) as large as had originally been estimated by the Masadams, who actually built the road.

1846 300 local people from Penmaenmawr attacked Irish navvies building the railway line.

1847 Blue Books are published, which attack the Welsh language for reducing educational standards in Wales - "standards are deplorable, largely due to the use of the Welsh language - the language of slavery".

1848 Dowlais was most possibly the biggest employer in the entire world.

1849 249 Welsh Mormons emigrate to Salt Lake City. The Tabernacle Choir was founded by this group of people.

1856 Evan and James James of Pontypridd write the Welsh National Anthem

1860 By this year, Dowlais had converted to the Bessemer process.

1861 First National Eisteddfod at Aberdare.

1862 Lead-mining reaches its peak. 27.800 tons of ore are produced and the industry employs about 6.000 people, half of these in the Pumlumon area.

1865 Afon Camwy, Patagonia

  • Under the instigation of Michael D. Jones, a successful Welsh colony Y Wladfa is established at Chubert, Patagonia. (This was by no means the first attempt to establish Welsh colonies).

    Initially 163 people (mostly from Bala) leave Liverpool aboard the Mimosa on 28. May, and landed at Porth Madrun on 27. July.

    This was 60 km. north of the Camwy (Chubert). Conditions were not as good as the colonists were originally led to believe, and only 90 colonists were remaining by 1867.

    However, by 1914, the colony had 3.000 settlers (immigration had stopped by 1912).

    Claims to be the first community to give the vote to women. Porth Madryn, Patagonia

  • In the Election : First Liberal majority

1866 Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers) goes down so well at the National Eisteddfod in Chester, that it is adopted as the National Anthem.


  • As a result of the Second Reform Act, Merthyr Tydfil is given another seat. The number of electors in Merthyr rises from 1.387 to 14.577.

  • 10.000 pounds is paid for the hotel built by Thomas Savin in Aberystwyth, to serve as the home of a new University College in Aberystwyth.


  • 168 killed in explosion in Ferndale Colliery.

  • In the first election since the Second Reform Act, a majority of Liberal MPs were returned (Liberals-21, Conservative-12). Henry Richards is elected for Merthyr. Nevertheless, there is no secret ballot - about 80 workers at Penrhyn are reputed to have lost their jobs following the defeat of Baron Penrhyn's son in the election.


  • John Hughes of Merthyr Tydfil went to Russia and formed the New Russia Company to produce iron and steel. A town grew up around the works, called Yuzovka (Hughesovka), which had 100 families by 1875. The town is nowadays Donetsk, after being known as Stalino from 1924-61. Kruschev lived in Yuzovka from 1909 onwards.

  • The "Western Mail" Founded. The paper was founded primarily to serve the commercial interests of the third Marques of Bute, but in 1877, bought by Henry Carr, it became established as the foremost daily newspaper in Wales. A mostly true-blue conservative paper from its beginning, and scathingly ridiculed by nationalist and songwriter Dafydd Iwan in the late 1960's for its pro-English, anti-Welsh opinions.

1872 University College at Aberystwyth opened, with 26 students.


  • 32% of Britain's coal exports come from Wales. In previous decade, exports from Cardiff more than doubled and its population increased by about half. Cardiff handled 72% of Welsh exports.

  • In the 80s, there is great competition from American agriculture, which hits Wales badly.


  • Cardiff becomes the largest town in Wales - in 1801 it had been the 25th. in size, and in 1851 the 4th.

  • Welsh Sunday Closing Act

  • Welsh Rugby Union founded. First international rugby match between England and Wales - England won. The cradle of the game in Wales had been the college in Lampeter.

  • From 1881 onwards, Vyrnwy Reservoir is constructed, for Liverpool - about 120 km away. The valley is flooded and engulfs Llanwddyn. A new village is constructed by Liverpool in 1887.

1883 University colleges established at Cardiff and Bangor.

1884 The Third Reform Act is passed - about 60% of males now have the vote.

1885 In the first election since the Third Reform Act, the Liberals win 30 out of the 34 seats. Mabon becomes MP for Rhondda.


  • The first 'working-class' MP William Abraham (Mabon) is returned as a Liberal for Rhondda.

  • Founding of Cymru Fydd. From Bala, in Merionethshire, Tom Ellis attempted to bring social equality, individual freedom and universal education to Wales. Influenced by the example of the Irish MP's, he helped found the Cymru Fydd movement (The Wales of the Future), inspired by the renewal of Gaelic in Ireland and by the revival of small nations elsewhere in Europe. Lloyd George took over leadership of the movement but other Welsh MP's did not support him. In a meeting at Newport in January 1896, he was howled down by those who did not wish to see "the domination of Welsh ideas." The sentiments expressed at this meeting, showing the bitter divide between North Wales and Southeast Wales, as well as Ellis' early death in 1899, led to the rapid decline of the movement.

1888 After the Vyrnwy valley is flooded engulfing Llanwddyn, a new village is constructed by Liverpool in 1887.

1888 The National Union of Elementary Teachers decides to remove the word 'Elementary', replacing it with 'English'. Due to Welsh protests, the N.U.T. is born.

1889 The Miners' Federation of Great Britain Founded, at Newport. It argued for the abolition of the sliding scale and the restriction of the working day to eight hours (the sliding scale was abolished in 1903).


  • McKinley tariff hits Welsh tinplate industry, although it later recovered by winning new markets.

  • Election - Liberals win 31 seats out of 34.

1893 The University of Wales established. Lord Aberdare was due to be the first Chancellor - he was the Home Secretary who described Marx et al as a harmless group who only needed 'education with some religious training', in the wake of the reaction following the Paris Commune.


  • The first Labour councillor, David Williams, in Swansea.

  • After the lock-out in the coalfields, The South Wales Miners Federation is formed, with Mabon as President. It is federated to the Federation of Great Britain, and by the end of 1899 has 104.000 members.

The South Wales coalfield is the only mountainous coalfield in Britain.

Early Twentieth Century

Half the population can speak Welsh, with 15% being monoglot. Welsh coal accounts for 5% of British exports (in terms of money). Around this period, Wales is the only country, apart from the USA, to register net immigration. BY 1913, Wales is providing one-third of the world's exports in coal. It had 485 collieries and 250.000 men employed (41.000 in the Rhondda alone).


  • Taff Vale Strike
  • The first British Labour MP. Kier Hardie is returned as a member for Merthyr Tydfil. The other Welsh Labour candidate (in the Gower), John Hodge, receives 45% of the vote.

  • 70% of the male workforce in the Rhondda are miners.

Kier Hardie


  • Experiencing a seven-fold population increase in less than 50 years, Cardiff becomes a city.

  • Enoch Morell becomes Labour Mayor of Merthyr


  • In the election, no Conservative MPs at all are elected in Wales - Liberal 33, Labour 1.

  • Trade Disputes Act

1909 The Fed affiliates to Labour.


  • Cyfartha closed. Blaenafon, Ebbw Vale and Dowlais are the only works left in the traditional iron areas. Scott Memorial, Roath Park

  • June 15 Scott's Terra Nova leaves Cardiff, Wales, for the south. He reaches the South Pole on 17. January 1912, but dies on the return journey, probably towards the end of March 1912. A memorial to him, in the form of a lighthouse, exists in Roath Park Lake, Cardiff.


  • The Tonypandy Riots, (the Cambrian Dispute) of 1910/11

First World War

D.A. Thomas becomes Controller of Food, which he carries out very successfully, according to many sources. 40.000 Welsh soldiers are killed.


  • May 17 Many strikes

  • July 29 200 representatives from the coalfield meet in Swansea to discuss the setting up of soviets. The meeting is broken up by soldiers.

Inter-War Years


  • Strong support for 'Home Rule'(devolution) from the Conservatives and the South Wales Miners Federation. It becomes part of the Labour Party Manifesto in 1918.

  • Extension of the franchise - the number of electors jumps from 430.000 to 1.172.000. Constituencies are re-arranged so that each has about 70.000 voters. Several seats were previously a collection of boroughs - all these are abolished apart from Caernarfon Boroughs, the Prime Minister's constituency. A seat is inaugurated for the University of Wales. Until 1918, Cardiff had had only one constituency.

  • Dec 12. 10 seats are won by Labour (30% of votes). Haydn Jones, Liberal MP for Merionydd, is the only Welsh supporter of the Asquith faction.


  • Serious race riots in Cardiff. 3 killed.

  • Forestry Commission established, which leads to a situation where Wales ia almost the only country where the majority of its trees are non-native species.

1920 The Welsh Outlook declares : "From the national point of view, our railway system is the worst in the world".

1921 Cyfartha closes, folloed by Blaenavon (1922), Ebbw Vale (1929) and the greater part of Dowlais by 1930. However in the 1920s, Wales had 15 steelworks.


  • Brief resurgence for the slate industry - 10.000 men were employed.

  • Election : Labour win 41% of the vote and all seats in the mining valleys, including Ramsey McDonald for Aberafan. The Conservatives win all three Cardiff seats plus Barry, Newport and Monmouth. Liberals win 11 seats. So Labour were dominant in Wales, but the election ushered in a period of Conservative domination in the country as a whole - they had been out of power since 1906.


  • A BBC radio station is set up in Cardiff. This is followed in 1924 with one in Swansea. In 1925, a transmitter at Daventry is opened which is powerful enough to reach the entire country. Swansea mostly relays the Daventry service, whereas Cardiff does produce some original programming.

  • In the election, Labour win 20 seats, Liberals 12 and Conservatives 4. In Britain as a whole, the Conservatives won 258, Labour 191 and the Liberals 158. Labour formed a government which lasted for nine months.

  • With a strike in America and problems in the Ruhr, there is a brief flowering of Welsh coal production.


  • The election is overshadowed by the Zinoviev letter. Labour win 16 seats, Liberals 11 and the Conservatives 9.

  • April - 1.8% of miners are unemployed, by January 1925 it has reached 12.5%, and by August 1925 the figure is 28.5%


  • Winston Churchill returned Britain to the Gold Standard. J.M. Keynes warned that British goods would therefore be 10% more expensive, which would require manufacturers to cut costs, thru wage reductions for example. By June, all British coalfields are running at a loss.

  • Plaid Cymru is founded, during the National Eisteddfod in Pwllheli.


  • Dec 26 In the wake of the establishment of Spencer's union, the South Wales Industrial Union is set up at Taff-Merthyr Colliery, Bedlinog.


  • The Trade Union Act is passed, a decidely anti-union piece of legislation.

  • 1 in 20 families own a car. Although the real difference to most people is the growth in bus services.

  • A regular Welsh-language radio service (the first regular service) is transmitted by Radio Eireann.

  • Thomas Jones establishes Coleg Harlech.

1928 Coal production is down to 35 million tons, from 54 million tons in 1923.


  • Election produces the following no. of seats :- 25 Labour, 10 Liberal, 1 Conservative. The Conservatives had received about a quarter of the votes cast, but had only received one seat (Monmouth). Megan Lloyd George (Liberal, Anglesey) becomes the first woman to represent a Welsh constituency - up until 1993, there have been three others, one of the worst records in Europe. Aneurin Bevan was among the new MPs, but Ramsey McDonald had left Wales for a constituency in County Durham. In Britain as a whole : Labour-288, Conservative-260, Liberal-59. The new Labour government reduced the working day for miners to 7.5 hours.

  • October 29 Wall Street Crash

1931 The Government cuts unemployment benefit, introduced means testing, and reduced wages in the public sector. Britain left the Gold Standard.

1932 42.8% male unemployment

1933 October - the Milk Marketing Board formed.


  • On the 3. February, a reduction in unemployment benefit is announced, leading to protests.

  • Election : Labour 16, Liberal 11, Conservative 6, National Labour 1. In Britain as a whole the National Government wins 554 seats.


  • Ebbw Vale re-opened

  • Treforest Industrial Estate

  • Sept 8 Penyberth bombing station is set on fire by Saunders Lewis, Lewis Valentine and D.J. Williams. They are sentenced to 9 months imprisonment after trial at the Old Bailey. The jury at a previous trial in Caernarfon had been unable to come to a decision.

  • at the end of the year, unemployment is at 28.1%.


  • By the end of the Spanish Civil War, 33 Welsh volunteers had been killed fighting for the International Brigade (174 had volunteered). A plaque was displayed in the Mines Library in Swansea.

  • Unemployment in Dowlais is 73.4%, in Merthyr it is 69.1%.

Second World War

15.000 Welsh soldiers are killed, lower than the First War, but the number of civilian deaths is much larger than the previous war.


  • By June, the 400 people who lived on Mynydd Epynt had been dispersed and the area taken over by the War Office. By 1945 10% of the country would be held by the War Office.

  • June Cardiff first bombed

  • Until 1943, there are 44 raids on Swansea. 369 people die ( 230 on 19,20,21 February 1941) The entire town center is destroyed. In February 1942, 34 people are killed.

1942-45 Rudolf Hess is held prisoner in Abergavenny. He was allowed one walk a week in the hills surrounding the town.

1943 100,000 troops take part in Operation Jantzen, a D-Day rehersal landing on the beaches between Amroth and Saundersfoot.

1944 During the war, there were 524 stoppages in the mines. In March 1944, 100.000 Welsh miners went on strike.


  • Jan 1. The National Union of Mineworkers is founded. The Fed becomes the South Wales region of the NUM.

  • 67 German POWs escaped from Island Farm Camp, Bridgend. This was the biggest break-out in Britain but they were all re-captured.

  • April The by-election caused by Lloyd George's resignation produces a 25% vote for Plaid Cymru.



  • July 5 Election is held, but the results are not announced until 26. July. In Britain, Labour win 393 seats (from 166), Conservatives 213 (from 397), although socialist vote is only about 50% of the national vote. In Wales Labour win 25 seats (21 with absolute majorities - in 7 constituencies it received over 80% of the vote), Conservatives 3 (inc. Caernarfon Boroughs) and Liberal 7 (out of a national total of 12). Carmarthen was one of only two constituencies nationally to be lost by Labour.

  • Work begins on a new town at Cwmbran.


  • Jan 1 Coal mines were nationalized - there were 135 pits with over 250 employees in South Wales. During the year 736.000 tons of coal were handled by Cardiff.

  • Jan - Mar had the worst snowstorm of the century. Coal stocks became very low. This was followed by flooding in spring, and a prolonged drought in the Summer.

  • First Welsh-language primary school, in Llanelli.

  • Llangollen International Eisteddfod inaugurated.

1948 The Act of Parliament proclaiming Owain Glyndwr a traitor was repealed.


1950 Election : Labour win 58% of the vote, Liberals win 5 seats (from a total of 9 nationally). In Britain, Labour have a 5 seat majority.


  • The largest steelworks in Britain were opened at Margam.

  • October In Britain, Labour receive 13.948.883 votes, the best performance by any party in the entire history of British elections, but lose the election. They receive 295 seats and Conservative 321 seats. In Wales, Labour won 27 seats (and 58% of the votes), Conservatives 6 and Liberal 3 (out of 6 in Britain).


  • Most of the steel industry was denationalized, apart from Ebbw Vale.
  • Pipeline from the Claerwen Dam in Elan Valley blown up by Nationalists.
  • Cardiff becomes the capital of Wales.

  • Steel output was almost double that of 1946.

Three National Parks opened, covering 20% of the country.


1960 Esso build a refinery in Milford Haven.


  • Llanwern opened. Britain's largest blast furnace is opened at Shotton.

  • Welsh Language Society formed.

1964 James Griffiths becomes the first Secretary of State for Wales


  • Election - Labour get 61% of the vote and 32 seats (27 with an absolute majority).

  • September Severn Bridge opened.

  • October 21 144 people (including 111 children) are killed in Aberfan.

1967 Steel nationalized Mint, Llantrisant

1968 The Mint is transferred to Llantrisant.

1969 Maerdy becomes the last pit to remain open in the Rhondda.



  • Number of sheep is 6 million (from 3,8 million in 1950)

  • 1300 sq. km. are owned by the Foresty Commission

1972 The miners go on strike, for the first time since 1926.

1973 In November, a coal strike is called, with 93% support in South Wales.


  • February 28 Election - nationally Labour 301 Conservative 296. Labour gain 47% of the vote in Wales. Plaid Cymru gain Merionydd and Caernarfon. Gwynfor Evans loses Carmarthen by 3 votes.

  • October - Gwynfor Evans successful in Carmarthen


  • May - Election. Conservatives win 11 seats - their highest since 1874. They also win Anglesey for the first time since 1784 (Keith Best from Brighton). They win 35% of the vote which is not too dissimilar from before. Labour win 21 seats - their worst performance since 1935.

  • September. The Government announces that it is to break its pledge to establish a Welsh language TV channel.



  • Problems start at Lewis Merthyr when it is threatened with closure.

  • Labour wins 38% of the vote - its worst performance since 1918. Labour - 20, Conservative - 14, Plaid Cymru - 2, Liberal - 2.

1987 Labour wins 45% of the vote.