Tryweryn: A New Dawn? (Paperback)Dr Wyn Thomas (author)
Paperback Published: 10/07/2023
Definitive account of the cultural and political impact on Wales of the flooding of the Tryweryn Valley. The failure of the nation to block the move politically led to increased Welsh national consciousness and to a period of militant activism which eventually led to the process of devolution. -- Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru
Publisher: Y Lolfa
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 38 mm
This substantial publication offers a detailed re-assessment of the decision by the officials of the Liverpool City Council to drown the village of Capel Celyn in Merionethshire during the early 1960s in order to provide a water supply for some of the citizens of Liverpool, a total of around a million individuals. The book's release was timed to coincide broadly with the 65th anniversary of the passing of the Tryweryn Reservoir Bill. This volume is the result of over twenty years of research, combining traditional archival research with a series of interviews with many of the individuals involved in the story. Dr Thomas has also quarried a large number of the scripts of relevant television and radio programmes. The analysis in Tryweryn is exceptionally detailed and based on exhaustive research work. It pays sympathetic attention to the story from the perspective from the standpoint of the Liverpool City Council, and charts the progress of the Tryweryn Water Bill through parliament where it completed its journey following the final reading of the highly contentious measure on 31 July 1957. These events caused much embarrassment and heart-searching for many of the inhabitants of north Wales who considered Liverpool with affection to be their capital city. They also caused, of course, personal tragedies to those individuals who lost their ancestral homes, some of whom are given full and sympathetic attention in this study. Attention is also given to the long-term effects of these events on the political and social evolution of the Welsh nation. No one escapes judgement in this fair-minded study. The author condemns the Labour members of the Liverpool City Council who were renowned for being stubborn and obdurate. Among them was the fiery and headstrong Councillor Bessie Braddock and her husband John. (Interestingly, in October 2005, on the suggestion of Lord Roberts of Llandudno, the officials of the Liverpool City Council announced their intention to make a full public apology for the events of a full half century earlier.) The incompetent, pusillanimous members of the Merioneth County Council are also much criticised here for their failure to respond positively to this course of events. Some of the inhabitants of Capel Celyn are also judged for their failure to act while losing their homes. Some of them, it would seem, actually welcomed the opportunity to acquire homes of a higher standard in the wake of these events. Dr Thomas also tends to suggest that the leaders of Plaid Cymru failed to reap the potential political advantage from these events. Dr Wyn Thomas said: 'Two aspects of the Tryweryn story have attracted particular attention and comment in Wales: what is deemed to be Liverpool’s dubious justification for flooding Cwm Tryweryn and the traditional belief, often strenuously expressed, that the threatened Welsh-speaking community was united in opposing Liverpool’s reservoir construction project.’ He challenges both these deeply-held opinions in his book. The use of extensive archival testimony convincingly demonstrates that Liverpool’s need to construct a reservoir to combat the city’s municipal water and employment problem was genuine. This seminal volume fills a gap in the historiography of Wales and is fair-minded throughout. It succeeds admirably in looking beyond the mythology and the heated emotions which accompanied the drowning of Capel Celyn in the Welsh heartland. The text is penned in clear, fluid prose, and the volume includes relevant photographs and other illustrations. The endnote references, index, full bibliography and the list of sources used are very helpful. This study will be respected and used for many years to come, and will prove of immense interest to everyone who takes an interest in Welsh history and politics during a highly formative period in the nation's development.
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