Sunday 22 November 2015

Lake Vyrnwy Estate and Why we need a Welsh Land Act by Nickglais: TIR CYMRU YW EFYRNWY/EFYRNWY IS CYMRIC LAND.

Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr has been investigating why the biggest Land Sale in England and Wales of Welsh Land by an English Company has been largely ignored by Nationalists and Socialists in Wales.

It speaks to some pretty fundamental political weaknesses of both the Nationalist and Socialist movements in Wales which was why Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr was established in 2012 to begin to rectify.

The  23,000 acre Vyrnwy Estate was put on the market in 2010 by Severn Trent Water Authority but however despite lengthy negotiations over its sale it failed to secure a buyer and was taken off the market in 2013.

Severn Trent Water Authority

In 1973 the Water Act brought together the many water and sewerage companies in England and Wales into ten water authorities, each responsible for water supply, sewage treatment and river protection within its area.

Each was led by a board with representatives from local authorities and central government.
Severn Trent Water Authority was one of those ten authorities.

By the mid 1980s, however, the government had decided to privatise the water industry.

The ten water authorities  passed into private ownership in 1989.

Lake  Vyrnwy Dam

The City Council of Liverpool were looking for a site for a new reservoir to provide more water for the ever expanding population of the great, sprawling urban area they controlled along the banks of the Mersey.

Various sites were under consideration in northern England and Wales, but in most cases some snag prevented them from being suitable.

In the summer of 1877 Mr Deacon, the city engineer of  Liverpool, arrived in Llanwddyn to investigate the possibility of damming the river Vyrnwy at a point somewhere below the village to create a large, artificial lake capable of holding many millions of gallons of water.

Dr George Deacon (1843–1909) began the design of the Vyrnwy Dam in 1879 at the age of 36. In 1890, following Vyrnwy, he founded an engineering practice in London which subsequently became Sir Alexander Binnie Son & Deacon, then Mr Binnie and Partners. Its present-day successor is now Black & Veatch.

Dr Deacon was instructed to prepare the Parliamentary Plans for the scheme in 1879. The dam construction started in 1881 and was completed seven years later in 1888.

It was the first large stone-built dam in the United Kingdom, and is built partly out of great blocks of Welsh slate. When built it cost £620,000, equivalent to £62,000,000 in 2015 to supply Merseyside and Liverpool with water.

United Utilities

The principal bidder for the Vyrnwy Estate was United Utilities another English company.

However, United Utilities withdrew from the sale which led to the land being taken off the market in June 2013.

It had been put up for sale in 2010 and in 2011, United Utilities and RSPB Cymru were named preferred bidders for 12,000 acres of agricultural holdings on the estate.

FIM Sustainable Timber and Energy LP was also named as the preferred bidder to develop the 5,000 acres of commercial woodland.

Local Campaign to bring Land into Welsh ownership

There was a praiseworthy attempt to raise money for a Welsh People buy out of Lake Vyrnwy Estate in 2010 but either through weak organisation or lack of support for the campaign or a combination of  both the campaign for Welsh ownership of Vyrnwy Estate never got off the ground.

Given  that this is the largest land sale in England and Wales of 23,000 acres - it is strange and some might say monsterous that it has not been taken up by Plaid Cymru as a campaigning nationalist issue.

Severn Trent and RSPB still have biggest package of land some 11 891 acres and we believe William Pears a London financial company has acquired at least 5000 acres.

I am still investigating the remaining acres which I believe are woodland and lake which may have gone to FIM Sustainable Timber and Energy LP.

Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr will commence a campaign to raise awareness of the Welsh Land issue around Vyrnwy Estate as part of our campaign for a Welsh Land Act in 2016.

Since our foundation in 2012 Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr has called for a Welsh Land Act simlar to Scottish Land Act 2003 with priority right to buy for local communities.

Scotland has moved on and is currently preparing a much better Second Land Act  but Wales has not even addressed the question of a First Welsh Land Act.

The Vyrnwy Estate  Land Sale provides us with an opportunity to  highlight the question of the need for a Welsh Land Act and what it would mean in practice.

Firstly with a Welsh Land Act and the Vyrnwy Land Sale - the Welsh local community or Nation would have been the preferred bidder by law and not the English Company United Utilities as was the recent case.

Of course we would still need to make the case as socialists and nationalists why the nation/local community  should spend 11 million pounds acquiring the Vyrnwy Estate for the nation.

The 125 years leases on the properties on the Estate like the farms would have been offered to the tennents first and not sold to London financial institutions like William Pears if a Welsh Land Act was in existence.
The Forestry and woodland instead of going to a commercial company could have become a community resource.

Therefore The Vyrnwy Estate provides us with many examples of why we need a Welsh Land Act.

We need to find creative ways to publicize these issues and the necessity for a Welsh Land Act.

The Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr campaign slogan for 2016 will be :


Saturday 21 November 2015

Calon Lan (Pure Heart) Against North Wales Infidels - Proud to to be Welsh and anti Fascist

Today November 21st 2015 a march of about 600 Welsh People people singing Calon Lan at Llangefni against the fascists of North Wales Infidels numbering about 30 who looked on without a clue.

The 30 Fascists were made up of Nazi Combat 18 from England and North West England Infidels and a few locals.

The true voice of Wales was found in the singing of Calon Lan (Pure Heart) at the protest against the fascists at Llangefni.

Da iawn pobl. Great turnout in Llangefni - For diversity, against the politics of hate.
Posted by Leanne Wood on Saturday, 21 November 2015

Far right protesters and their opponents have held two rallies in Llangefni on Anglesey.Around 40 members of a group - calling itself Infidels of North Wales - took part, with several hundred opposing them.More:
Posted by ITV Wales on Saturday, 21 November 2015

 The unionist Chap called Robert Johnston in interview  is himself a Migrant , he Just Moved from Luton in the south of England to Caergybi on Anglesey Wales and then called him self a North Walian

Sunday 8 November 2015

Remembering Welsh boy and men soldiers executed in First World War by Gethin Gruffydd


Unfortunately, I did not manage to complete until this Morning and am still one poppy short of the 15 I required for this tribute.

I had hoped to put it on display at the 'National' War memorial in Caerdydd but that is out now, but next year 2016 as appropriate and perhaps with an organised Great Unrest Remembrance ( Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr) Commemoration.

The three crosses at top represent the regiments in which these men served and yes there are 'Three Feathers' but in this instance I am not letting hard line Nationalist opinions get in the way of this particular tribute

Yr  Aflonyddwch  Mawr says its is time to  have a monument in Wales to those who heroically resisted the First World War on the Western Front as well as at Home.

We are aware of mutinies in three Welsh Regiments on the Western Front  which have been edited out of regimental histories.

Our History Commission is investigating and hopes to Report in 2016 on these Mutinies.

The executed and dead will have their say and will not remain excluded from history for  ever.

Private William Jones was probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) induced by the horrors of the Great War.

But after deserting the young solider turned himself in – and later found himself blindfolded and put before a firing squad.

The young solider from the Vale of Neath was one of 306 young British soldiers – 15 of them serving in Welsh ranks – who received the ultimate punishment for military offences such as desertion, cowardice, falling asleep or striking an officer.

They were all shot at dawn.

In 2006 a blanket pardon was issued for the men who died this way following a petition in the years after the First World War.

Now a new book by Neath author Robert King, who campaigned and supported the petition, portrays the brutality faced by the 15 Welshmen who all faced this terrifying end.

Shot at Dawn looks at how during the First World War the concept of ‘shell shock’ – now known as PTSD – was not known and was not accepted as an excuse for desertion or any of the other offences which resulted in men being shot..

Pte Jones’ name has since been inscribed on Glynneath war memorial nearly 90 years after he was executed.

Suspected to have been too young to join the army, Mr King thinks Pte Jones was one of the many hundreds of volunteers who lied about their age and signed up by a desperate army.

“Private William Jones, 9th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, was a Kitchener volunteer who hailed from Glynneath,” said Mr King.

“Jones was a stretcher bearer in France who went missing on June 15, 1917, after taking a wounded soldier to the dressing station.

“The job of a stretcher bearer entailed going out into no-man’s-land collecting wounded and dead soldiers and their body parts and returning them to the dressing station.

“It was a horrendous duty for such a young man and it could have unhinged him, causing him to desert.”

During the early days of September 1917, having been away from his battalion for about three months, he handed himself in to Neath Police Station – possibly encouraged by his family – and the officers there promptly sent him to the assistant provost marshal in Bristol.

“If he had not made the decision to surrender it is probable that he would have been undetected for the duration of the war,” said Mr King.

Pte Jones was executed a month later. In a foreword to the book Neath MP Peter Hain said the men who died had been victims of war rather than failures at war.

Mr Hain supported a proposal in the House of Commons to grant a blanket pardon to the men.

“The terrible injustice suffered by 306 British men executed under the Army Act has been like a deep festering sore,” he said.

“Their ‘offence’ was quite likely to be suffering from shell shock – now called post-traumatic stress syndrome. Through no fault of their own they downed arms and could not serve, so breaching the regulations stipulated by the Army Act.”

In the years following the First World War the executed soldiers’ cause was raised with great passion in the House with Labour MP Ernest Thurtle being one of the first to do so in the early 1920s.

He argued that the executed soldiers should be laid to rest in graves alongside those men who fell in action after responding to a petition submitted by a soldier who felt that they should be honoured in the same way.

Mr King, a local history author from Neath, has been campaigning since the 1970s to have the soldiers pardoned and placed on memorials to those who died in the First World War.

“My attention focused on those Welshmen who had been regulars, volunteers or conscripts and then faced a firing squad for committing one of the variety of offences either through, in some cases, alcoholic inebriation or shell shock (now called post-traumatic stress syndrome).”

Mr King said soldiers who made up the firing line were also mentally scarred by the dawn shootings.
“It must have been horrendous to be instructed to carry out this duty – in some cases the members of the firing party would have known the condemned. To be involved in a firing party would often leave a mark on a man who had knowingly shot someone who had been fighting on the Allied side.”

Four of the 15 Welshmen executed by the British Army had been convicted of murder and were not subject to the blanket pardon that was granted for other offences.

However the court martials they faced were nothing like a civilian murder trial and did not take into account any of the mitigating circumstances surrounding the killings.


Tuesday 3 November 2015

The Promise of John Frost - Remembering the Chartist Uprising November 3rd/4th 1839

In 1856 John Frost the leader of the Newport Chartists was allowed to return to Britain.

Several thousand people gave him a hero's welcome when he arrived in Newport and he told them:

"That one day not only would they have the Charter but they would also have 'something more'--a better world where those who make the wealth would enjoy it to the full".

Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr says we are still far removed from the direct democracy envisaged in Chartist Annual Parliaments and Representative Democracy has long been subverted by the British Capitalist State.

Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr see the Welsh Socialist Republican Congress has the vehicle for carrying out John Frost's promise of direct democracy in the 21st Century.

Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr will do all within its power to make sure the promise of John Frost is honoured with a Welsh Socialist Republican Congress meeting in 2016.

Concerning those who make the wealth enjoying it to the full - those that work hardest are usually paid the least and certainly do not enjoy the full fruits of their labours, inequality is increasing with the demolition of the Welfare State. and Wales and the World have seen a resurgence of capitalist neo liberalism.

See Also: