Wales History Timeline

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1793-1804 AD

1793: REVOLT AT SWANSEA
Not all was peaceful in Wales despite the country being favorably compared in "The Cambrian" to Scotland and Ireland with their history of "riot and commotion." Some time in 1793, several hundred copperworkers and colliers marched on Swansea protesting the high price of grain, cheese and butter and demanding higher wages. They got nowhere in their demands, but it was a foretaste of later industrial disputes.



1793-94: PUBLICATION OF THE FIRST WELSH PERIODICAL
Supported by members of the Gwyneddigion, Morgan John Rhys of Llanbradach, Glamorgan, published five issues of "Cylchgrawn Cymmraeg" (Welsh Magazine) expressing the rather radical ideas of the need for education, social reform and freedom of conscience. Rhys later emigrated to found the Welsh settlement of Beulah in Pennsylvania.



1793-1818: ENCLOSURES OF LAND
Though the process of enclosing land had been going on for centuries, the process was vastly speeded up during the years following 1793 when Parliament passes almost a 100 acts authorizing the enclosure of 80,000 hectares of land in Wales (a hectare is 2.471 acres). More and more of these lands came into the possession of those who already owned wealthy estates. Many Welsh people were forced to emigrate overseas or move to such rapidly-growing industrial districts around Merthyr or into its adjoining valleys.



1794: THE GLAMORGAN CANAL LINKS MERTHYR TO CARDIFF
Cardiff was already the main centre for exporting Welsh coal to the Britain's overseas empire. The success of the 1794 canal in getting the coal and iron products to the waiting ships easily and quickly was soon followed up by other canals linking the ports of Newport and Swansea to their industrial hinterlands of Ebbw Vale (in 1796) and the Swansea Valley (in 1798). The importation of Irish "navvies" to dig these canals did much to hasten the decline of the Welsh language in these areas as well as help spread the seeds of the later Chartist Movement.



1797: THE LAST INVASION OF MAINLAND BRITAIN
In the main square of the town of Fishguard (Abergwaun) is situated the Royal Oak Inn where you can view a copy of the treaty that ended the invasion by a body of French troops led by Irish-American General Tate. The troops had landed from three frigates at Carreg Wastad but were apparently frightened into surrendering by the militia of Lord Cawdor aided by a troop of local Welshwomen who looked like Grenadier Guards in their red cloaks and tall black hats. One local townswoman, the fearsome Jemima Nicholas (or Niclas) with her trusty pitchfork, was personally credited with capturing 14 French soldiers (that they were probably drunk hardly excuses their cowardice).



1804: "THE CAMBRIAN" WALES' FIRST WEEKLY NEWSPAPER
In February 1804, "The Cambrian and General Weekly Advertiser for the Principality of Wales" was founded at Swansea by T. Jenkins to encourage commercial growth in the town. In 1891 it was sold to the Cambrian Newspaper Company and in 1930 merged with "The Herald of Wales".



1804: TREVITHICK AT PENYDARREN
Richard Trevithick, a Cornishman, tested his steam locomotive at Penydarren, on the horse-drawn tramroad (a plateway completed in 1802) that bypassed the many locks on the Glamorganshire Canal linking Merthyr to Cardiff. The earliest steam locomotive in the world, it was a four-wheeled tramway locomotive that hauled a five wagon load of 10 tons of iron [some sources state 20 tons] and 70 persons at a speed of five miles an hour, for a distance of nine miles. Though the track proved too brittle and not developed enough for effective use, a new, exciting phase in the history of transportation was about to begin.

In early 1804, Trevithick had carried passengers on Christmas Eve, at a speed of 9 miles an hour at Cambrone in England in a steam carriage, but had run out of steam going up hill. A locomotive was needed to run on iron rails. Mr. Samuel Humfray, owner of the Merthyr Iron Works suggested that Trevithick build a steam locomotive for the nine-mile track to Navigation House, Aercynon.

An article of Friday, February 24, 1804 in "The Cambrian" referred to "the long-expected trial of Mr. Trevithick's newly-invented steam engine, which he named Catch -me-Who-Can, to draw and work carriages of all descriptions on various kinds of roads. "The successful test had taken place on February 21; it drew forth the prescient comment: "It is not doubted but that the number of horses in the kingdom will be very considerably reduced, and the machine, in the hands of the present proprietors, will be made use of in a thousand instances never yet thought of for an engine."



1804: "THE CAMPBELL'S POLITICAL SURVEY OF WALES" PUBLISHED
The publication of such surveys showed that Wales was more and more being recognised as a distinct political unit within the British Isles despite the hundreds of years since the Acts of Union. Campbell's survey stated that Swansea was named by the Saxons as Swinesea, "from porpoises or sea-hogs in these parts." (Most sources give the derivation of the name as Viking Sweyn's-Ey (Sweyn's Island).



1804: THE SWANSEA AND OYSTERMOUTH RAILWAY BEGINS
On the 29th of June, 1804 an Act was passed "For making and maintaining a Railway of Tramroad, from the town of Swansea, into the Parish of Oystermouth, in the County of Glamorgan." The railway (utilizing horse-drawn locomotion) was built for the passage of wagons and other carriages to communicate with the Swansea Canal and to open a communication with "several extensive limestone quarries, coal mines, iron mines and other mines. A notice in "The Cambrian" on August 31, 1804 stated "The new rail-road from this town to Oystermouth is already begun, and the jetty at the pierhead is in a state of great forwardness."

An innovation began in 1807 when passengers were carried along the tramroad in horse-drawn coaches; thus the railway established its place in history as the very first fare-paying passenger rail in the world. Horses were replaced by steam locomotion in 1877. The line was electrified in 1929, finally closing on June 5, 1960 after 153 years of continuous service.

  

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