Wales History Timeline

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1870-1886 AD

1870: THE EDUCATION ACT SETS UP BOARD SCHOOLS
The Board Schools, in which basic skills would be taught to children of the "lower classes" were set up throughout Wales. In them, all teaching was done through the medium of English and religious instruction was strictly that of the Church of England.



1872: WALES' FIRST UNIVERSITY AT ABERYSTWYTH OPENS
Sir Hugh Owen, a pioneer in education in Wales, had written an open letter to the Welsh people in 1843 urging the acceptance of the schools of the British and Foreign Schools Society. Over 300 schools were set up in Wales. Owen then began tireless efforts to secure a university (thus fulfilling a dream of Owain Glyndwr) that came to fruition in 1872 when Aberystwyth University opened, thanks to voluntary contributions from all parts of Wales and from all walks of life after the Government had refused financial help..



1873: THE COAL OWNERS' ASSOCIATION IS FORMED
The beginnings of trade unionism seemed to threaten the enormous power wielded by the coal owners who formed the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal owners' Association (MSCA) in 1873, to present a united front against their workers. Two years later, the Association was able to introduce the system of payment known as "the sliding scale," setting wages to the selling price of coal.



1877: THE CAMBRIAN MINERS' ASSOCIATION FORMED
Following years of constant defeats in their battles against the coal owners, the workers were persistent in their attempts to form unions. In 1877, the Cambrian Miners' Association, founded in the Rhondda Valley, began to organize strikes as their only resource against the MSCA.



1879: DANIEL OWEN PUBLISHES "OFFRYMAU NEILLDUAETH"
When Daniel Owen published his account of the sermons of Roger Edwards in "Offrymau Neillduaeth a Cymeriadau Methodistaidd" (Sacrificial Offerings and Methodist Characters) in 1879, he was persuaded to try his hand at writing Welsh novels. He went on to publish "Y Dreflan", "Rhys Lewis, Enoc Huws" and a collection of essays all of which showed his keen observation of character and society. Despite major faults as a storyteller, Owen can be considered Wales's first novelist.



1880: GENERAL ELECTION
In a break with the old tradition of electing members from the landed gentry to Parliament, the General Election of 1880 returned members more representative of the general population. In addition, following the impetus of the General Election of 1867, a Welsh Liberal Party was created that had enormous influence on the direction of politics for the next 60 years.



1881: THE ABERDARE COMMISSION
Unlike the 1847 Treachery of the Blue Books, the Aberdare Commission's report was not written by those hostile to or wholly ignorant of the Welsh language; nevertheless, they took it for granted that all intermediate and secondary education in Wales would be through the medium of English. The Commission did recommend that the Government fund two new university colleges, at Bangor in the North, and Cardiff in the South. Though funding was later granted to the already-established college at Aberystwyth, the other colleges had to wait a long while.



1881: WELSH RUGBY UNION ESTABLISHED
Brought to Wales by students at St. David's College, Lampeter (Llanbedr Pont Steffan) now a part of the University of Wales, rugby quickly spread to the industrial valleys of the South, where it gained the reputation of replacing religion as the area's chief weekend activity. It is not too far-fetched to state that rugby IS the religion of much of South Wales (both have been in serious trouble of late).

Despite a falling off in its basic skills of the game since the glorious 1970's, around much of the world the name of Wales is synonymous with that of Rugby football (though the sport was developed at Rugby School in England).



1881: THE SUNDAY SCHOOL CLOSING ACT
The passing of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act of 1881 showed that Parliament could pass legislation specifically engineered for the people of Wales, who thus gained a symbol of their separateness. That this symbol of Welsh legislation was, or soon came to be unacceptable to the majority of working people in Wales (whom it most affected) is not as important as the precedent it set in future Acts concerning Wales as a separate unit.



1884: ACT OF PARLIAMENT AUTHORIZES THE BUILDING OF BARRY DOCK
Huge congestion at Cardiff, where 72 percent of Welsh coal exports were handled, led to the coal owners' successful petition for a new dock at Barry where a rapid increase in population accompanied the industrial growth. The new dock symbolized the frantic growth of Welsh industry and the important place that Welsh coal played in world trade and shipping.



1885: THE SOCIETY FOR THE UTILIZATION OF THE WELSH LANGUAGE FOUNDED
At the National Eisteddfod, Aberdare, Dan Isaac Davies helped found Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) that envisioned a bilingual Wales. Davies aimed to have three million bilingual Welsh in the next 100 years. His report on elementary education to the Cross Commission led to some concessions to the teaching of Welsh that were later to prove vital in the survival of the language.



1886: CYMRU FYDD FOUNDED
From Bala, in Merionethshire, Tom Ellis worked hard to bring social equality, individual freedom and universal education to Wales. Greatly impressed by the determination 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 (that anticipated the 1997 divisions over the Referendum), as well as Ellis' early death in 1899, led to the rapid decline of the movement.

  

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