National Library Of Wales Seeks Veterans Of Trefechan Bridge Protest

By Caroline Lewis | 08 April 2008
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  • Archived article
black and white photo of a group of protestors in a road

A photo of the protest. © National Library of Wales

The Welsh Language Society and its fight to preserve Welsh is a phenomenon that has been through several incarnations. Its most recent was established in 1962, and some of its members were involved in a famous protest the next year at Trefechan Bridge, Aberystwyth.

The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is now looking for people who were at the protest who are featured in a photograph currently on show at the library.

The large black and white image is part of an exhibition called Protest! Which looks at the history of protest in Wales from the 1840s Rebecca Riots through the Suffragettes' struggle to the language protests of the 1960s.

Trefechan Bridge, the first protest conducted by the Welsh Language Society, is now seen as a key moment. It took place in the bitter winter of 1963, in February.

Saunders Lewis' call to arms on the radio in the previous year had outlined the growing crisis of the Welsh language and advocated revolutionary means to protect it.

black and white photo of a crowd and a car

Recognise yourself? © National Library of Wales

Accordingly, 40 protestors and supporters staged a sit-in on the Trefechan Bridge road, stopping traffic entering or leaving Aberystwyth. Vehicles were brought to a standstill for over half an hour, before police removed the group, who had been inspired by the non-violent action of the American civil rights movement.

The participants hoped to be arrested and demand that their writ be in Welsh, knowing it would come only in English. In this way they could draw attention to the lack of status of their language in its home country.

The Welsh Language Society's acts of civil disobedience eventually led to the Welsh Language Act of 1967, and TV channel S4C in 1982.

If you were at the protest, staff at the Library would like to hear your memories and thoughts about the event.

A website accompanying the exhibition is at www.llgc.org.uk/ymgyrchu/index.htm.

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