Remember Tryweryn

Unofficial graffiti memorial (English: Remember Tryweryn) to Capel Celyn, Tryweryn at Llanrhystud, near Aberystwyth.
Unofficial graffiti memorial (English: Remember Tryweryn) to Capel Celyn, Tryweryn at Llanrhystud, near Aberystwyth.

Capel Celyn was a rural community to the north west of Bala in Gwynedd, north Wales, in the Afon Tryweryn valley. The village and other parts of the valley were flooded to create a reservoir, Llyn Celyn, in order to supply the City of Liverpool and Wirral with water for industry. Eight hundred acres of land — twelve farms and land belonging to four other farms– were drowned, as well as the school, the post office, the chapel, and the cemetery.

Tryweryn Newsletter, published by the Tryweryn Defence Committee, c. 1957, front cover.
Tryweryn Newsletter, published by the Tryweryn Defence Committee, c. 1957, front cover.

In 1956, a private bill sponsored by Liverpool City Council was brought before Parliament to develop a water reservoir from the Tryweryn Valley. The development would include the flooding of Capel Celyn. By obtaining authority via an Act of Parliament, Liverpool City Council would not require planning consent from the relevant Welsh local authorities. This, together with the fact that the village was one of the last Welsh-only speaking communities, ensured that the proposals became deeply controversial.

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Also in 1956, the Tryweryn Defence Committee was formed, including some of Wales’ most prominent and revered personalities, including Ifan ab Owen Edwards, Megan Lloyd George, T. I. Ellis, and Lord Ogmore. Many other branches of the committee were formed, including the Capel Celyn Defence Committee and the Liverpool branch of the Tryweryn Defence Committee.

"Save Cwm Tryweryn for Wales" by Gwynfor Evans, c. 1957.
“Save Cwm Tryweryn for Wales” by Gwynfor Evans, c. 1957.

Thirty-five out of thirty-six Welsh Members of Parliament opposed the Liverpool Corporation Act of 1957 (the other did not vote), but on 1 August 1957 it was passed by Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government, with the support of Henry Brooke, the Minister for Welsh Affairs. The members of the community waged an eight-year capaign, ultimately unsuccessful, to prevent the destruction of their homes.

On three occasions between 1962 and 1963, there were attempts to sabotage the building of the reservoir. On 10 February 1963 a transmitter exploded on the site and an Aberystwyth student, Emyr Llywelyn Jones, was sentenced to prison for twelve months for his part in the act. When he was sentenced, two members of ‘MAC’ (Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru), Owain Williams and John Albert Jones, blew up a pylon at Gellilydan.

Llyn Celyn was officially opened on 28 October 1965. At the opening ceremony, where the Lord Mayor of Liverpool was present, a protest was held which included the appearance in military uniforms of the Free Wales Army (FWA).

A table of farms destroyed in the creation of Llyn Celyn, from Moses Griffith’s report, Undeb Cymru Fydd papers, 110.

Name Acreage Occupant
Tyucha and Thyddyn Bychan 03 D. Jones
Hafod Fadog 07 D. Jones
Garnedd Lwyd, part of Goed-y-Mynach 45 J. W. Evans
Caefadog and Choedymynach 52.5 D. Roberts
Gelli Uchaf 51.5 Gth Evans
Gwerndelwau 46 J. Rowlands
Hafodwen 08.5 J.A. Jones
Ty Nant 02 R.E. Jones
Craigyronw, Weirglodd Ddu, Moelfryn and
Chaerwernog
80.5 M. Roberts
Maesydail 85 I. Jones
Bochyrhaeadr 44.5 W. H. Pugh
Brynifan 10.5 J. M. Jones
Gwerngenau 68 C. O. Jones
Penbryn Mawr and Thynybont 79 J. J. Edwards
Penbryn Bach and Dolfawr 65 I Parry
Tyncerrig 42 I Roberts
Total number of acres = 770

The flooding of the village inspired Enya’s song Dan y Dŵr (lyrics by Roma Ryan).

Dan y dwr, tawelwch sydd.
Dan y dwr, galwaf i.
Nid yw’r swn gyda fi.

Dan y dwr, tawelwch am byth.
Dan y dwr, galwaf i.
Nid yw’r swn ddim fwy gyda fi.

Beneath the waters, there is silence.
Beneath the waters, I call you.
There is no company with me.

Beneath the waters, silent forever.
Beneath the waters, I call you.
The sound is no longer with me.

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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