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Dic Penderyn pardon gathers steam

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A memorial: Erected to Dic Penderyn

A memorial: Erected to Dic Penderyn

NEARLY two centuries after he went to the gallows protesting his innocence, a campaign seeking a posthumous pardon for one of south Wales’ best-known martyrs is under way.

Richard Lewis, more commonly known as Dic Penderyn, was a miner working in Merthyr Tydfil at the time of the Merthyr Uprising of 1831. Along with another man, Lewis Lewis, he was convicted of wounding a Scottish Dragoon who was part of the force brought in to quell the disturbance. At least sixteen of the protesters were killed, and it is considered that this figure represented a deliberate underestimation.

Although the soldier was unable to identify either of his ‘assailants,’ the pair were convicted. Lewis Lewis had his sentence commuted to Transportation after the testimony of a special constable, who Lewis shielded from rioters, was heard.

The case caused outrage across south Wales and further afield. A petition demanding a pardon for Richard Lewis received 11,000 signatures, and it was widely believed that he had been targeted for his involvement with workers’ rights groups. A Quaker ironmaster who initially went to comfort Lewis during his incarceration, became so convinced of his innocence that he convinced the trial judge that the conviction was unsafe.

However, the Home Secretary at the time, Viscount Melbourne, who had described south Wales in Parliament as ‘the worst and most formidable district in the kingdom’, granted a two-week stay of execution but refused to review the sentence. It has been subsequently claimed that his refusal to review Lewis’ sentence was motivated more by the desire to make an example of someone than through any legal motivation.

Richard Lewis was hanged at the old Cardiff Jail on August 13 1831. He was just 23 years-old. His last words were “O Arglwydd, dyma gamwedd” (“Oh Lord, here is iniquity”). He was buried in Aberavon.

The Merthyr Uprising is considered to be one of the touchstones of industrial action in south Wales, and Richard Lewis has long been considered a martyr by workers and Unions alike. One of the solicitors campaigning for his pardon, Bernard de Maid, has said that ‘the irony of this is if he had not gone to the gallows, Wales would have had one hero less’.

Richard Lewis has been the subject of many songs, poems, and works of fiction. Gwyn Thomas’ All Things Betray Thee was a thinly fictionalised treatment of the Merthyr Uprising, and when researching his novel The Fire People, Alexander Cordell claimed to have found new evidence that proved Lewis’ innocence.

In 2000, Mr de Maid began proceedings to challenge the original decision, pointing out that the testimony of 12 witnesses who stated that Lewis was innocent was not heard at the original trial.

Jane Hall, a descendant of Lewis, who lives in St Dogmaels, has been involved in the campaign, which was started by her late mother, since 2000, along with her four sisters. At present, the National Assembly is joining in calls to the Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove to ‘grant Richard Lewis a pardon at the earliest possible opportunity’.

The petition has received cross-party support, and has been signed by Labour AM Joyce Watson, and Preseli Pembrokeshire’s Paul Davies, among others. Eighteen AMs have already signed.

Speaking to the Herald, Mrs Hall said that the original conviction had been a ‘major injustice’. “I know there have been many injustices in the world since, but in this case 16 people were killed by soldiers that night and that wasn’t enough. They had to make an example. The family has always considered that a great wrong was done to an innocent man. It would be rather nice if history could be righted.”

When we asked Mrs Hall how the appeal was progressing, she told us that it was ‘a wait and see game’.

“It’s in the lap of Michael Gove now,” she added.

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Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened

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ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

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WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

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OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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