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Mark Drakeford opens exhibition on history of Welsh labour movement

19 Nov 2021 3 minutes Read
Part of Newport’s Chartist Mural – destroyed in 2013. Copyright Robin Drayton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Mark Drakeford has opened a new exhibition on the history of the Welsh labour movement.

The exhibition focuses on the lives of working-class people during the industrial revolution, the birth of early Welsh unions, popular revolts in Mold and Merthyr, the suffragettes and the creation of the NHS.

The exhibition ‘UNISON and the Welsh labour movement’, which will be permanently based at UNISON’s Cardiff office, also features three named rooms chronicling the lives of Welsh labour movement heroes, Aneurin Bevan, Thora Silverthorne and Betty Campbell.

The exhibition is themed: Birth of Class; Power in the Union; Public Service Pioneers; Political Battlegrounds; Equal Rights for All; Solidarity Forever and New Wales, New Union. Highlights include an image of original mural commemorating the Chartist uprising.

UNISON Cymru engaged local historian, Robert Griffiths and designer, Hannah Warrick, to develop the exhibition. An online version of the exhibition is also available.

“It’s great to be here for the opening of Unison’s exhibition which traces the history of the labour movement here in Wales,” Mr Drakeford, who is the leader of Welsh Labour, said.

“We can only understand today if we understand the struggles of the past. Trade unions revolutionised workplaces for so many millions of people in Wales and across the UK.”

‘Struggle’

Karen Loughlin, UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary, said: “History shouldn’t be seen as dry or distant. We’re showing Welsh people that the women and men who have helped transform society looked and sounded just like them.

“We want people to come away inspired and fizzing with ideas thinking about what change is possible and how they can achieve it.

“There is a direct line from the struggle of working people against their exploitation in times past and today’s fight for action on the climate, anti-racism and equal rights for all.”

Dave Rees, UNISON Cymru Wales Convenor, said: “This exhibition champions the gains won by working class people and their trade unions that have benefited everyone.

“You’ll hear about the people in Mold, Merthyr and elsewhere, who banded together to turn the world on its head, winning the vote, reduced working hours and safer workplaces. It was trade union campaigning that secured the minimum wage, maternity and paternity rights, pensions, holiday pay and sick pay.

“We’re so proud of the exhibition and it shows what a positive difference trade unions can make.”

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Geraint
Geraint
11 days ago

Good to see more examples of wider Welsh civic society recognising and celebrating aspects of Welsh history. Worth noting both Aneurin Bevan and Betty Campbell featured in the recently published, History Grounded : Looking for the history of Wales by Dr Elin Jones . An extensive and detailed publication that everyone interested in Welsh history should have a copy on their book shelf. Personally I intend asking for a copy from my library so that others can borrow it.

ArgolFawr
ArgolFawr
10 days ago

Irony… Welsh labour gov AM’s choose not to make the history of Wales compulsory in schools yet go about peddling Welsh labour history. . Shish!

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
10 days ago
Reply to  ArgolFawr

Patience, grasshopper. 😉 WG asked Estyn to produce a “thematic report on; The teaching of Welsh history including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic history, identity and culture which they produced just last month. I haven’t read the details so maybe you can do the research and report back bearing in mind that Plaid’s demand linked BAME history in Wales and Welsh History? I have more than a dozen books on Welsh history and would never inflict them all on school pupils though anything less is swerving toward Horrible Histories. I don’t have the Gododdin or Taliesyn or even basics such… Read more »

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
10 days ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

The Gododdin and the Book of Taliesin are books of poetry. They are interesting in themselves and should be taught in our schools but they can’t really be thought of as history.

RobE
RobE
10 days ago

It’s a disgrace that the mural was destroyed. Why couldn’t they have reconstructed it in St Fagans?

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
10 days ago

Welsh history how many people of Wales know that the first steam Train in the world ran from Merthyr Tydfil too abercynon over 20yrs before Stevens train so the tunnel that it traveled through must be the first Train tunnel at the bottom of Merthyr also it traveled over three stone bridges that are still standing they must the oldest in the world start claiming our history and teaching our children

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