Welsh village to stage re-enactment of historic tollgate attack that sparked Rebecca Riots
A re-enactment of an historic attack on a tollgate by men dressed as women will be staged in a west Wales village by Welsh actor, Rhodri Ifan.
The performance will depict the moment in Welsh history when armed men with blackened faces and disguised in women’s clothing descended on the village of Efailwen to destroy the new tollgate.
The gate sat on the border between Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire and was erected in 1839.
It was used by those carrying lime back from the coast and protesters viewed it as a symbol of economic oppression.
The attack on the gate was the first of many that continued on throughout west Wales until 1844 and became known as the Rebecca Riots.
Although it is not known why the Rebecca rioters were named so – one story states that a local woman named Rebecca lived near the original group at Efailwen and had clothes that were large enough to fit the burly men.
On Monday evening at 7pm [July 17] outside Caffi Beca on the main Cardigan to Narberth highway, Rhodri Ifan will play the part of ‘Twm Carnabwth’ (Thomas Rees), the leader of the local insurgents.
The actor played the lead part in the recent S4C film ‘Swn’ based on Gwynfor Evans’ campaign to establish the Welsh language television channel.
He will be aided by ‘rioters’ dressed in women’s clothes with blackened faces as they were at the time when the gate was destroyed.
The re-enactment will herald the start of a campaign to erect a bronze statue of Thomas Rees outside the cafe.
The event will be held on the same date as the third and final attack on the tollgate in 1839 before the authorities finally gave in to the farmers’ grievances.
Organisers say that S4C’s Heno will be broadcasting live from the event.
A choir of local schoolchildren will take part as well as renowned tenors Trystan Llyr and Teifryn Rees who will sing Twm’s favourite hymn ‘Iesu difyrrwch f’enaid drud’.
Campaign secretary, Hefin Wyn said the sculpture will be a challenge to any sculptor as there are no photographs of Twm Carnabwth available to work from as is usual with such commissions.
“Much imagination will be required to depict Twm as a resolute and fiery character who was determined to correct social injustice,” he said.
He added the campaign was very much community led as Twm Carnabwth is very much a local hero whose exploits led to radical changes in the late 19th century.
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