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CHERNOBYL: THE LEGACY IT LEFT WELSH FARMERS

Wales since 1945

On Saturday 26 April 1986, at 1.23 a.m. the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident occurred. A combination of human error and faulty Soviet design led to Reactor 4 of the Chernobyl Power Plant to explode sending radioactive material into the air.

A View of Chernobyl After the Accident

1,444 miles from the plant Wales felt they were safe from the subsequent radiation drifting in the atmosphere. But the economic and environmental impact was still felt by Welsh farmers for 26 years.

Welsh Hill Farm in Snowdonia one of the Areas Affected by Radioactive Fallout

The environment matters. Wales, as a country within the UK, may be an island but the atmosphere has no borders. Substances, leaked spilled or blown into the air can still have a profound and lasting effect.

Media Reports
Initially the Soviet authorities tried to deny the disaster had occurred. When Sweden, Norway and Finland…

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‘The Nation Mourns’ The Response to Winston Churchill’s death in Wales.

Wales since 1945

Recently, Gary Oldman received the Best Leading Actor Oscar at the 2018 academy awards for his portrayal of Sir Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. 53 years on from his death Britain and the rest of the world are still fascinated by Churchill’s achievements and in awe of his credible career.

At 8am on Sunday 24th January, Britain awoke to the news released by the BBC, that Winston Churchill, aged 90, had died in the early hours of the morning after a series of strokes and long- term illness. The response to Winston Churchill’s death in Wales reveals the sense of Britishness that Welsh people were identifying with in the 1960’s.[1] The public outcry of emotion in the short period between Churchill’s death and his state funeral is evidence of the popular pride of Britishness that was entangled with Welsh national identity.  The Union Jack flags hung in Welsh town centres; from…

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The Beatles and their MBEs: The Welsh Reaction

Wales since 1945

26 October, 1965, was a monumental day for popular music. Until then, it was very rare for musical acts to be honoured by the royal family for their success. But that all changed with the Beatles. For on that day, each member of the band was awarded with the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).

By 1965, the Beatles had become Britain’s greatest musical ambassadors, and were at the height of their popularity. Beatlemania gripped the world, and it arrived in full force at the gates of Buckingham Palace on 26 October.

Police keeping back a crowd of young fans outside Buckingham Palace, London, as the Beatles receive their MBEs, 26 October 1965.

In 1960s Britain, rock ‘n’ roll musicians were known for provoking hysterical behaviour amongst their audiences, and the Beatles were no different. Many believed that this behaviour represented a decline in…

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Cardiff’s hit of Beatlemania: The Fab Four light up the Capitol

Wales since 1945

As the Beatles arrived at the Welsh capital on 12th December 1965, the reception given to them by their fans mirrored that of almost every show they played. The queue outside the Capitol Theatre stretched for several hundred metres and screams of excitement could be heard for many more.

IMG-0990 The Beatles, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, place a doll on the Capitol Theatre’s Christmas tree during their one night stand in Cardiff.                               (Western Mail, Monday, December 13th, 1965)

More than simply pop-group, the Beatles embodied and thrived from what some refer to as the ‘counter-culture‘ movement that was emerging during the 1960’s. Relatively affluent youths across the globe challenged cultural and societal norms through various expressions of music, fashion, drugs and protest movements. The Beatles personified the challenges to…

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‘Give the Girl a Chance’: The 1979 General Election.

Wales since 1945

Margaret Thatcher waves after being elected Prime Minister

The Importance of the 1983 election

On 4 May 1979, Margaret Thatcher would be elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It was an historic moment in political history for many reasons. Firstly, the election of Mrs Thatcher meant that the United Kingdom for the first time would elect a woman to lead the country as Prime Minister, she was also the first woman elected into power in any European government. Secondly, the Conservative party would regain the majority of the electorate from labour giving them the opportunity to form a government.

Since the end of World War 2, Wales has always been a comfortable area of victory for the labour party. The countries strong connection and history with industrial works such as steel and iron make seats like Merthyr Tydfil labour strongholds. However, in the 1979 election, although labour remained the…

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The 1983 General Election in Wales

Wales since 1945

Since the end of the Second World War, the Labour Party has achieved considerable success in Wales. In every General Election between 1945 and 2017, the Labour Party has gained the largest vote share and has won a majority of seats. For much of the period 1945-97, party politics in Wales was a Conservative Party weakness. As Roger Scully has noted, the Conservative Party’s average electoral vote share in Wales during this period was 16.4% lower than the average in England. [1] On the surface, the 1983 General Election appeared to point to a growth of Conservative Party electoral performance in Wales. The continuation of a long history of Labour Party hegemony in Wales looked increasing fragile. The support that had cemented Wales as a Labour heartland, had seemingly began to erode.

 

Background

Economic Instability

The 1970s and early 1980s was a period of significant economic instability in Britain…

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Sianel Pedwar Cymru: The creation of a Welsh-language fourth channel

Wales since 1945

On the 1st of November 1982 Sianel Pedwar Cymru more widely recognized as S4C started broadcasting. S4C was the first television channel of its kind as it was specifically aimed at a Welsh-speaking audience and its creation was a key moment for Welsh nationalism and the preservation of the Welsh language.

A Welsh language dedicated channel was seen by some as the best way to further promote the Welsh language and improve its programming. Up until the creation of S4C Welsh language programming had been showcased on the BBC and HTV with around twelve to fifteen hours being produced weekly.

The period before its inception was tumultuous to say the least with protests, broken promises and numerous political debates all being key components to its eventual creation. Previous plans to create the channel had also been postponed due to money concerns which were rife during the late 1970’s amidst the…

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Wales v New Zealand – 1953

Wales since 1945

thrilling victory

On 19 December 1953, the Welsh international rugby team would achieve an accomplishment yet unmatched by any Welsh international teams since. Defeating the mighty All Blacks. But not only was the victory to become a fabled moment in Welsh sports history, it also reflected much of the prosperity in Wales at the time.

Following the conclusion of the Second World War, for the majority of the country, the period leading up to the match could be categorised as a time of, overcoming obstacles and hope.[1] These two things could certainly be found in the Welsh performance that day.

The Match

In defeating the touring New Zealand side, the Welsh players etched their names into the history books. Most notable were Bleddyn Williams, captain and leader, Clem Thomas, masterfully skilful and could drastically impact a game. Not to mention Cliff Morgan, a maverick fly half whose inventiveness…

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Jim Callaghan, Welsh rugby and the ‘weaponisation’ of national identity

Wales since 1945

In the opening remarks of his 1980 Foreword to the official history of the Welsh Rugby Union, Hermas Evans asserted that ‘Rugby Football in Wales is more than a national game – it is a way of life; it is a religion; it is a political activity’.[1] Although intended to describe the experience of a whole century, Jim Callaghan’s active courtship of Wales’ own ‘Galacticos’ gave his words a very contemporary resonance.

Callaghan The Prime Minister meets the Welsh rugby team. Taken from Phil Bennett, Everywhere for Wales.

With a General Election looming and the Government struggling to control rampant inflation and trade union militancy, Labour had become increasingly worried by the resurgence of political nationalism and its potential consequences at the ballot box. Conscious of the Welsh rugby team’s prominent place in the construction of a contemporary national identity, the Prime Minister seized an opportunity to celebrate Welsh nationhood…

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The Beveridge Committee Report for Broadcasting: The Impact of the BBC and Welsh National Identity.

Wales since 1945

2018 marks the 95th anniversary of the first radio broadcast in Wales. The history of Welsh identity has been the subject of rigorous academic discussion in recent years, from many different angles and it would be foolish to exclude broadcasting as a subject for discussion. The rise of Nationalist parties such as Plaid Cymru and Undeb Cymru Fydd promoted a lack of national independence and recognition in Wales and the Beveridge Committee of 1949 made a great impact on the history of Welsh broadcasting and the promotion of Welsh identity.

‘The basic job of the BBC in Wales is to nourish and encourage national unity and to add wealth, depth and value to all aspects of national life’ [1]

The words of Alun Oldfield-Davies, the acting director and Controller of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) from 1945 until 1967 show that not only did he see Wales as a nation but he saw it as a nation that lacked a cultural identity.

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