Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A Small Victory for Radnorshire

The English, according to the American writer Paul Theroux, only take an Irishman seriously when he's holding a gun.  It follows that the Welsh, who have long foresworn the use of such extreme violence, are rarely taken seriously at all.  No doubt because of this laudable moderation, authority has often seen fit to ride roughshod over Welsh interests, most famously at Tryweryn.

In the late 1960s the Severn River Authority plotted to flood the Dulas Valley in Radnorshire.  A reservoir of some 18000 million gallons was proposed, necessitating the flooding of around 25 farms and the removal of 150 people from their homes.  A local Defence Committee was immediately set up and its chairman Mr Iorwerth Thomas declared "we may be Welsh peasants but we are the backbone of the country."  Now this may well have been true but which country? Certainly not that recognized by the Malvern based River Authority.

The Defence Committee installed an old air raid siren which on at least three occasions was used to summon scores of local people to eject River Authority officials from private land.  If officialdom wanted to survey Cwm Dulas they would at least have to go through the courts and enter legally.  In all their contacts with the press the Committee stressed that they wanted no part of the then current MAC bombing campaign.  Of course, merely by mentioning the matter they were giving the authorities pause for thought.  A public enquiry was held in Llanidloes in February 1970 and in December of that year the new Tory Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Thomas, announced that the flooding of the Dulas Valley would not be allowed to proceed.  Things had moved on a little.

A Liverpool bureaucrat mocked a Trywern family by claiming that the city didn't drink the water of Llyn Celyn but rather used it to flush their toilets.  In 1970, in the Dulas Valley at least, that arrogance was sent home to think again.


Anonymous said...

Interesting to know if the folk at Cwm Dulas had a sympathetic mole, who would tell the residents where and when a visit was due to take place.

It happened in Llangyndeirne, when there was talk of submerging the Gwendraeth Fach valley.

Vaughan Williams said...

The Chairman of the Defence Committee was Iorweth Evans (not Thomas) of Cenarth Mill Farm