Alan Madge on bloody events in Welsh history, and Michael O’Sullivan on atrocities in Northern IrelandI agree with the sentiments expressed on your Letters page (18 August) regarding the way in which deliberate attempts are made to erase terrible injustices, such as the Peterloo massacre, from our history. Even less attention is paid to similar outrages that occurred in the south Wales coalfield, such as the Merthyr rising in 1831, Tonypandy in 1910 and Llanelli in 1911.
Merthyr has been described as “the most ferocious and bloody event in the history of industrialised Britain”. It has to be seen against the background of agitation for parliamentary reform. When Crawshay, owner of the Cyfarthfa ironworks, decided to reduce workers’ wages, it was the spark that lit the conflagration. A crowd took over the town and when troops were called in, between 20 and 24 people were shot dead and over 70 wounded. The anger of Merthyr citizens was such that they disarmed the yeomanry sent from Swansea and the red flag was raised, possibly for the first time in British history.