Key dates

Five Key Dates in the History of Wales since 1939

1945 – The end of World War II and the election of a Labour government committed to nationalization and a welfare state. Both events wedWalesto the British state but also create fears that Welsh identity will be marginalized and overlooked.

1965 – The flooding of the Tryweryn valley sees the destruction of a Welsh-speaking community in order to supply Liverpool with water and causes much outrage across Wales.  The exact character of events was never as clear cut as popular mythology made out but it made many think about what being Welsh meant in the modern world.

1966 -144 people, including 116 children, are killed when a coal tip collapses on to the village of Aberfan.  The tragedy is exacerbated by a series of ill-conceived government, council and National Coal Board decisions that anger grieving parents trying to find justice.  For a few this was another example of how poorly served Wales was by English rule but more commonly it marked more disillusionment with both Labour and the coal industry.

1979 – Despite the popular and even aggressive patriotism that had marked the previous decade of Welsh rugby, a referendum sees the Welsh people throw out devolution.  In times of economic uncertainty and distrust in the Labour party, being Welsh was not primarily a political sentiment.

1997 – Generational change and nearly two decades of further economic dislocation and unpopular Conservative government sees 1979’s resounding No turn to a narrow and hesitant Yes in a second referendum on devolution.  Although there is little popular jubilation, for the first time in its history,Wales can claim to have a degree of democratic self-government.

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