Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Census Again

No Welsh Identity

The 'no Welsh identity' figures for Radnorshire make grim reading for those with a patriotic outlook.  Readers may well be reminded of J R Jones' comment about a particular bitter form of exile; that where, rather than leaving your own country, your country leaves you.  Here are the figures:

Abbeycwmhir 47%, Aberedw 49%, Beguildy 67%, Clyro 68%, Diserth 62%, Glasbury 52%, Gladestry 62%, Glascwm 47%,  Knighton 67%, Llanbadarn Fawr 49%, Llanbadarn Fynydd 44%, Llanbister 44%, Llanddewi Ystradenni 47%, Llandrindod 56%, Llanelwedd 40%, Llanfihangel Rhydithon 60%, Llangynllo 63%, Llanyre 51%, Nantmel 52%, New Radnor 71%, Old Radnor 71%, Painscastle 52%, Penybont 49%, Presteigne 76%, Rhayader 45%, St Harmon 49%, Whitton 71%.

Of course it's not all doom and gloom, the figures are inflated by cross border births and the non-Welsh element will be over-represented in the older age groups - people who, in the rather blunt words of Dafydd Iwan, have come to Wales to die.  I doubt if Radnorian folk have ever given a more ringing endorsement of their Welsh identity than they did in the census of 2011.  They may be a minority in much of their own land, but at least they see themselves as a Welsh minority.

Builth Hundred

Here are the figures for that little piece of Radnorshire that somehow ended up in Brecknockshire:

Builth Town:  Welsh only 52%, English only 15%, British only 20% - NWI 41%
Cilmeri:  Welsh only 45%, English only 21%, British only 25% - NWI 48%
Duhonw:  Welsh only 45%, English only 21%, British only 20% - NWI 49%
Llanafan:  Welsh only 51%, English only 14%, British only 21% - NWI 41%
Llangammarch:  Welsh only 42%, English only 18%, British only 29% - NWI 52%
Llanwrthwl:  Welsh only 35%, English only 19%, British only 29% - NWI 54%
Llanwrtyd:  Welsh only 34%, English only 25%, British only 27% - NWI 59%
Treflys:  Welsh only 46%, English only 21%, British only 21% - NWI 46%

NWI = % of population recording no Welsh identity.


Part of the charm of border towns like Knighton and Presteigne has been their long-standing mixed ethnicity, but what about Llanwrtyd?   In the 1911 census it was 80% Welsh speaking with 1 in 6 of its inhabitants not even  able to use the English tongue.  Even in 1951 after two World Wars and the depression Welsh was still spoken by two thirds of the town's inhabitants.  By 1971 the Welsh speaking population had fallen to 48%, while today it stands at an optimistic 18%.  According to the latest Estyn report no children at the local school come from Welsh speaking homes, and now we find that 59% of the population of this little town at the heart of Wales won't even claim any kind of Welsh identity.  This is what happens to a country's economy and culture when it allows its laws to be dictated by foreigners.

Welsh in England

Some folk have long asked that the Census enumerate Welsh speakers in England as well as those in Wales.  The 2011 census didn't do that, but it did require that the main language of the household be noted where it was not English.  With a Welsh born population living in England of 500K you'd expect around 50K to be Welsh speaking, infact the number recorded was just 8248.  No doubt this is an underestimation of the total number able to speak Welsh but at least it is a realistic figure and not overly inflated by patriotic zeal.  1310 of such folk live in London, but what about the Oswestry area.

As we have noted before Shropshire, rather than Cornwall, was the last county in England with indigenous speakers of a Celtic language, parishes such as Selattyn having home-grown Welsh speakers well into the 20C.  For example in 1946 five of the pupils at the local school were fluent Welsh speakers from Welsh speaking homes (cf present-day Llanwrtyd).  In 2011 just 10% of the inhabitants of Selattyn admitted to a Welsh identity, in nearby West Rhyn it was 15%, with 14% in St Martins and around 8% in Oswestry and Whittington.  Just over 200 residents of Oswestry and vicinity listed Welsh as the main language of their household.  Whether they were Salopians or incomers who knows?

1 comment:

branymor said...

The rapid decline of the Welsh Language in Llanwrtyd is depressing. There is however a Welsh stream in the town's primary school which hopefully will ensure that the children will grow up to become proud Welsh men and women. But then again with no prospects of a job in Llanwrtyd they will naturally seek pastures new while outsiders seeking the good life will replace them