Check out this post by We Are Cardiff


“Cardiff owes a debt to its industrial history” by We Are Cardiff


#ONTHISDAYINWALES in 1791 William Williams Pantycelyn passed away

William Williams Pantycelyn

Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch, 
Fi, bererin gwael ei wedd,
Nad oes ynof nerth na bywyd
Fel yn gorwedd yn y bedd:
Hollalluog, Hollalluog,
Ydyw’r Un a’m cwyd i’r lan.
Ydyw’r Un a’m cwyd i’r lan.

William Williams Pantycelyn. Methodist cleric. Author. Hymn-writer. And one of Wales’s greatest religious figures. He played an integral part in the Welsh Methodist Revival of the 18th century, and is best known today for writing the favourite hymn of Welsh rugby supporters, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah. Or Bread of Heaven as it’s commonly known. The above words are the original words of the hymn he wrote, entitled Arglwyddarwain trwy’r anialwch.

Phil Carradice’s BBC history blog chronicles Pantycelyn’s life and the rise of the Calvinistic Methodists, from its beginnings as a Church of England movement to its break from that institution in 1811. This BBC Wales’s page on religion in Wales provides an insight into the first wave of great hymn-writers and preachers in the eighteenth century.

In his closing paragraph, Carradice offers a subtle, yet moving tribute to the man from Carmarthenshire who influenced so greatly Welsh Christianity.

“William Williams, Pantycelyn, died on 11 January 1791 and was buried in the churchyard at Llanfair-ar-y-bryn, just outside Llandovery. He remains one of the great figures of Welsh religion – indeed, one of the great figures of Welsh social history. Every year, when the Welsh rugby fans bawl out Bread Of Heaven, they are paying tribute to a remarkable and fascinating man.”

#ONTHISDAYINWALES in 1983 Llanelli and Lions great Carwyn James passed away

Guto Owen runs a blog looking forward to the Lions tour to Australia in 2013. And today he’s written a post on one of the true enigmas of world rugby. Carwyn James. Enjoy.

Mae Guto Owen yn rhedeg blog yn edrych ymlaen at daith y Llewod i Awstralia yn 2013. Heddiw mae wedi ysgrifennu darn ar un o gewri y byd rygbi. Carwyn James. Mwynhewch.

Lion Coach

Lions Coach in 1971

Carwyn Rees James. 2/11/1929 – 10/1/1983

The Wales Archive from the Western Mail

  1. The Western Mail is publishing a series of pullouts every day featuring some of the most fascinating pictures from its archives on life in Wales.
    First of all it was the turn of shopping in Wales and how that’s changed during the last century.
  2. The Wales Archive: Part 1 – A look back at shopping in Wales – Need to Read – News from @walesonline…
  3. Then it was the turn of transport
  4. The Wales Archive: Part 2 – Transport in Wales through the ages – Need to Read – News from @walesonline…
  5. Politicians.
  6. The Wales Archive: Part 3 – Politicians who made their mark on Wales – Need to Read – News from @walesonline…
  7. Emergency services.
  8. The Wales Archive: Part 4 – 999 – The emergency services – Need to Read – News from @walesonline…
  9. Musicians.
  10. The Wales Archive: Part 5 – The superstar musicians who played Wales – Need to Read – News from @walesonline…
  11. Football managers.
  12. The Wales Archive: Part 6 – Football managers through the years – Need to Read – News from @walesonline…
  13. You can buy any of the photos by clicking here.
    Louvain Rees is a history blogger from Bridgend who focuses on the Glamorgan area of South Wales who is constantly uploading photos of her locality to the Facebook page Remembering Bridgend. Her blog HelloHistoria also contains many photographs of Welsh life.
    Do you have any images of Welsh life? Share them with us by commenting below or visiting our Facebook page here.

#ONTHISDAYINWALES in 1873 Chris Williams was born

On this day in Wales in 1873 Christopher Williams, one of the leading figures in Welsh art during his career was born in Maesteg. A prominent portrait artist he completed a number of high profile commissions. He is best known for his imposing classical subjects, including Deffroad Cymru (The Awakening of Wales) and his large scale classical interpretations of the Mabinogion.

Schooled in Neath at the Llynfi Ironworks School his talent was first recognised by artist F J Kerr. In 1893 he won a scholarship to the prestigious Royal College of Art and from there he attended the oldest art school in Britain, the Royal Academy Schools.

Williams was offered commission after commission. In 1911 he painted The Investiture of Edward, Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle and later three portraits of former Welsh Prime Minister David Lloyd George. He was also commissioned by Lloyd George to paint The Charge of the Welsh Division at Mametz Wood.

He was a portraitist as well as a landscapist. Richard Lloyd, Sir John Rhys, John Parry Jones and Richard Lloyd all sat for him. Examples of his landscapes include Storm over Cader Idris and Sunset in the Welsh Hills. The Red Dress is held at the National Museum Wales and Holidays – Village Girls at Llangrannog at the National Library of Wales. His landscape painting took him all over the world including Switzerland, Holland and Morocco.

Some of his most striking work came in the form of three paintings inspired by three scenes from the Mabinogion. They include Ceridwen (1910) and Branwen which are in the collection of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea (1915) and Blodeuwedd (1930) which you can see at the Newport Museum and Art Gallery.

On 7 July last year the Christopher Williams exhibition at the National Library of Wales opened. In his NLW Blog, Siôn Jobbins writes that one of Williams’ paintings is perhaps more familiar than any other. Deffroad Cymru is a painting of a beautiful woman rising, phoenix-like from darkness into light, a metaphor for the rise in Welsh national consciousness. You can read about the process of putting the exhibition together here.

Former MP Kim Howells officially opened the exhibition on 14 July last year and also presented the 2011 BBC Wales series Framing Wales, which featured Williams and his works. Watch this clip from the series, in which he talks to Robert Meyrick, head of Aberystwyth School of Art, about the artist.

Follow the link to watch the video

Follow the link to watch the video

Click on the links to view the paintings or visit the BBC Arts site Your Paintings (the subject of another Discover the Past post) to view over 100 of his paintings.

Cardiff and the Blitz

January 2nd 1941. Cardiff. 6.37pm. The dull sound of an air-aid siren echoes across the city.

When the all clear came 10 hours later, 150 people lay dead, with a further 427 injured and nearly 350 homes demolished. The Luftwaffe had done their worst. 71 years on it is still remembered.

Click on this image to view the BBC video

Click on this image to view the BBC video

Last year BBC Wales ran a series of stories commemorating the events not only of that one fateful night, but of all the air attacks on Cardiff during the Second World War. In nearly four years 355 people were killed as more than 2,100 bombs caused havoc.

No part of the city escaped unscathed with Grangetown, Riverside, Llandaf, Cathays and Roath all badly affected. You can see the devastation in these pictures.

BBC News correspondent Steve Duffy spoke to three men who survived the ordeal. John Williams aged 14, Ken Lloyd aged 12 and Trevor Tucker who was 6 tell their account of the night of the 2nd. Read their stories here.

Keith Matheson was 13 years old on that night. He remembers being taken by his father to the air raid raid shelter at 73 Wyndham Street, Riverside.

“Bombs continued to fall and later my father had just popped down into the shelter to check on us when we heard a flapping sound and then a dull thud. “Sounds like a dud,” said my father. Immediately after, there was a massive explosion – it was a land mine which had landed yards from our shelter.”

Click here to read his full account.

Click on the image to hear the accounts of three men who lived the Cardiff Blitz

Click on the image to hear the accounts of three men who lived the Cardiff Blitz

World War II TodayThe story of Leonard Attwell, a schoolboy in the city at the time is told  by BBC People’s War and is re-told by World War II Today.

“I remember vividly the night in January 1941 when Cardiff was bombed. I lived in Jubilee Street, Grangetown, which was adjacent to the Canton Loco Sheds the target sought by the bombers. It was the early hours of January 3rd (my brother’s birthday) that bombs and Landmines rained down on us. I was eight years old.”

World War II Today lets you follow the war as it happened seventy years ago. It has a post for virtually everyday of the War and focuses on individual incidents and experiences of those who lived it.

“We were in the Anderson Shelter which my father had built half submerged in the back garden, with several feet of soil over the top. He had also built bunks in the shelter and fitted a sand-bag shielded door to the front of the shelter. It was a bitterly cold January night that my mother, father, brother and I huddled together in the shelter. Just thinking of that night brings back the whistle of the bombs falling and the terrible explosions that followed.”

But Cardiff wasn’t the only place in Wales to be bombed from above.

Air Raid Casualties in Wales

Air Raid Casualties in Wales

Over a 1,000 people lost their lives across Wales. Newport, Pembrokeshire and Flintshire among others were all targeted, with Swansea bearing the brunt of the attacks. In the last episode of the series, the BBC’s Story of Wales traced the history of the Swansea Blitz.

Click on the image to view the clip

Click on the image to view the clip

“This is where I lived during the blitz, 41 Gwynfair Road. It was completely lit up like fairyland with incendiaries and bombs. I’ll never forget it. It’s a thing that somebody would never forget if you experienced it. It was terrible” – Brian Legg.


If you want to discover more about Wales during the Second World War visit the Swansea Bay 1940s Museum.



Everyday from today onwards (including yesterday…and the day before) Discover the Past will post a historical fact about Wales. So look out for the hashtag ONTHISDAYINWALES on the top right hand side of our homepage, or on the twitter page @discoverthepast. It’s the perfect way to learn something you might not have known about Wales, everyday.

Today’s fact is a certainly a timely one. Had the Mayans been correct  in their prophecy today would have been a hellish winter’s day in Wales. But the weather today is rather mild compared to past winters.

On this day in 1890, a a 3-week period of severe winter weather began causing deaths and widespread disruption in many parts of the country. It was, according to BBC weatherman Paul Hudson, the coldest winter for over thirty years. According to one web-based source 20cm of snow fell in Llanfrechfa Grange, Gwent.


Yet that particular source claims the heavy snowfall actually began on the 18th, pointing the finger towards the historical accuracy of Discover the Past’s fact.

So let’s do some shovelling (excuse the pun) and try to uncover a little more about the winter of 1890. And what about other particularly cold or snowy winters in Wales? What about the winter of 1962/63 which saw 20 feet deep?!

Who is Dic Aberdaron?

Who was Dic Aberdaron?

Who was Dic Aberdaron?

169 years ago yesterday, the Welsh traveller Dic Aberdaron died at the age of 63. In a recent blogpost Elin Meredith explains that even though he has been ‘immortalised through song, art and memory’ he is still seen as an enigma.

Born Richard Robert Jones in Aberdaron in 1780, he became known for his incredible skill of learning languages and eccentric tendencies. Completely self-taught, it is thought the wanderer from the small fishing village on the Llyn Peninsula could speak around 15 languages. He began learning Latin when he was only 12 years old and Greek before he was 20!

As Elin Meredith’s blogpost explains, the latest example of his immortilization comes in the form of an oil painting made available through a new project which has made all the UK’s publicly owned artworks available online. The painting by William Roos, who’s collection is at the National Library of Wales can be seen here.

Your Paintings showcases around 200,000 oil paintings, many of which have never been photographed before. It’s a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation and participating collections and museums from across the UK.

Mark Bell, BBC Commisioning Editor, Arts, said: “Mark Bell, BBC Commissioning Editor, Arts, said: “Taken in its entirety, Your Paintings is the story of the country in pictures, but it is the individual discoveries, new attributions and connections that are most exciting.”

And re-disovering people like Dic is part of the fun. Many questions we have about him will remain unanswered, but as Jan Morris, the author of The Matter of Wales writes, “It is often impossible, even now, to disentangle his truth from his fiction…but there are young Welshmen still who see this way of life as admirable – a life full of aspiration and private satisfaction, but utterly outside the usual canons of success.” And for that Dic Aberdaron will forever be remembered.

Should Schools in Wales Teach More Welsh History?

Ysgol Gynradd Bodringallt Children in a History Lesson

Pupils at Ysgol Gynradd Bodringallt in the Rhondda learn about the past

Almost all of us have studied history in school. Some, I’m sure, enjoyed it more than others, and some of you are currently in education trying to remember how many wives Henry VIII had. But sift through your history textbooks, how much of an emphasis is put on Welsh history? Not enough you might say? A fair amount maybe? Perhaps even too much?! Well its place on the curriculum may very well change after the education minister, Leighton Andrews, ordered a review into the way it’s taught in school. A little over a month on it’s time to look closer at what place Welsh history should be given.

Where’s the Welsh History?

The major exam body in Wales, the WJEC, suggests that of the eighteen optional GCSE units in the its syllabus, the five units that deal with Germany or the USA account for 72% of registrations in 2012/13. On the other hand the six units that deal with ‘Wales and England’ or Wales only, account for less than 15% of registrations.


Last year around 10,000 pupils in Wales sat the WJEC GCSE history paper. All these candidates would have sat at least one unit, 25%, on aspects of the history of Wales and England. The WJEC do offer one option specifically devoted to Welsh history in the twentieth century. Only 23 candidates sat the paper, all from one centre. Although these figures only account for the WJEC GCSE history syllabus over one year, they make for interesting reading.

John Geraint, one of The Story of Wales directors tweets about an exciting new initiative

John Geraint, one of The Story of Wales directors tweets about an exciting new initiative

At the same time over the last decade there has been a significant growth in interest in the history of Wales, culminating in the BBC’s The Story of Wales with Huw Edwards. Online educational resources to support the study of Welsh history have also continued to grow. The Welsh Government has invested heavily in digitization projects through the National Library of Wales and Cymal for instance. And on November 13th The Story of Wales Director announced via Twitter that they’re versioning the series for classroom use. What better time to consider the place of Welsh history within the curriculum?

The Review

The review group, led by Dr Elin Jones, will explore and advise on the future development of the history curriculum and report back in July 2013. The 13 member group was handpicked by Dr Jones and is made up of key individuals with experience in Welsh history and its teaching. The other members of the panel are:

  • Prof Angela John, Aberystwyth University;
  • Dr Sian Rhiannon Williams, Cardiff Metropolitan University;
  • Sion Jones, Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen;
  • Dr Hugh Griffiths, Ysgol Bro Myrddin;
  • Paul Nolan, History advisor;
  • Nia Williams, Education Coordinator, National Museum and Galleries of Wales;
  • Frank Olding, Blaenau Gwent Heritage Officer;
  • Dr Stephanie Ward, Cardiff University;
  • David Stacey, Olchfa Comprehensive School;
  • Dr Martin Johnes, UC Swansea;
  • William Rogers, Queen Street School, Blaenau Gwent;
  • Nicola Thomas, Cornist Park School

‘Lack of Resources’

So is there a lack of Welsh history in the current curriculum? Andrea May, history teacher and Assistant Head at Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend said: “If you actually look at the kind of materials that you get [on Welsh history] they’re not engaging for the students. You’ve got things like NGFL which I think will probably grow even more, but that relies in many respects on teachers feeding into it as well. And if it isn’t being taught you’re not going to get that share in the resources.”

She added that as children went through the year groups there is a decline in how much Welsh history is studied. In Brynteg their A-level course offers only one aspect of Welsh history, and that as part of a unit on Britain.


Is the teaching of Welsh history being overlooked then? Dean Powell, a local historian from Llantrisant believes it is, especially at comprehensive level. Drawing from his own experiences he said: “By the time I went to Ysgol Gyfun Llanhari [a Welsh medium comprehensive] the curriculum was far far wider and then all of a sudden you’re learning everything from the French to the Russian revolution and the rise of Nazism… but actually what you ended up losing was the Welsh history aspect.”

A School Trip

As Dean explains, today’s children are incredibly lucky to have so many resources at their disposable. To see how history is brought to life I joined Year 3 from Ysgol Gynradd Bro Eirwg in Cardiff on their school trip to St Fagans National History Museum and spoke to their teacher Mrs Bethan Elis.

Ethnic History

When the review was announced Oliver Hides on his Morning Call show on BBC Radio Wales spoke to Val Williams, a social historian and former teacher who said:

“Take Cardiff for instance; there are kids living in Cardiff whose families came from Somalia – what brought them here? What kept them here? How do they see the past of the city around them?” (Read the BBC story here)

One man who agrees with Val is Ibrahim Harbi, the National Co-ordinator of the Somali Integration Society who had this to say:

 Whether the curriculum changes or not, the opportunities for school children are endless. This map shows the number of museums and places of historical interest in South East Wales. If they don’t inspire our kids then what will?!

First Welsh Language Comprehensive in south Wales Celebrates its 50th Anniversary

On Friday November 23rd, Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen near Pontypridd celebrated its 50th Ysgol Gfyun Rhydfelenanniversary with a concert in the Reardon Smith Theatre in Cardiff.

In 1962 the school opened its gates for the first time and the 80 pupils who attended that day became the first to be taught in a Welsh-medium comprehensive in south Wales.  Coming six years after its predecessor Ysgol Glan Clwyd opened in 1956 in Rhyl, Rhydfelen was seen as a milestone in Welsh language education.

By 1973 the school had grown to nearly a 1000 pupils, but they didn’t all come from the village of Rhydyfelin and Pontypridd. Before Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera in Swansea (1969),  Llanhari in Pontyclun (1974) and Glantaf in Cardiff opened their doors Rhydfelen attracted pupils from all over south Wales. Some had to travel over an hour just so they could be taught in Welsh. This is evidence of the commitment parents and pupils had to Welsh language education.


The first Welsh school was established in Aberystwyth in 1939. A private primary, Ysgol Gymraeg yr Urdd was set up by Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards, the founder of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Welsh League of Youth. Eight years later in 1947 the first publicly funded Welsh school, Ysgol Dewi Sant, opened in Llanelli.

By the 1960s the number of pupils in Welsh language education came from non-Welsh speaking homes. Many thought these schools were offering a higher standard of education.The Education Reform Act in 1988 made Welsh a core subject of the National Curriculum in Wales in Welsh speaking and bilingual schools. In the rest of the schools in Wales it was given foundation status.

If you want to discover more about Welsh medium education visit this BBC site.


History of Welsh Language Schools & Rise of Welsh Secondary Schools in the South East

History of Welsh Language Schools & Rise of Welsh Secondary Schools in the South East

Rhydfelen at 50

Before the celebrations began on the 23rd I went along to the Reardon Smith Theatre to see how preparations were going. Former pupils Cleif Harpwood, lead singer of the legendary Welsh rock band Edward H. Dafis and Morgan Isaac, Cuba Cuba frontman told me what the night had in store.

So all that is left to say now is happy Birthday. Penblwydd Hapus Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen!