THE theme of the 1911 week in Llanelli is suffrage this year, which is of course the centenary of 1918 with women over 30 getting the vote and also of all ordinary working men getting the vote as many of them were excluded prior to 1918.

We are supported by Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli town Council who are represented on our committee along with local volunteers and historians.

In 1911 the Riot Act was read for the last time on mainland Britain, a legal threat to all who heard it to go home or face possible lethal consequences.

Ironically the people shot dead were actually in domestic back gardens.

After this momentous event in Llanelli, lethal force was not used again by the state to deal with strikes and the demands for the vote for all men were taken more seriously.

The trades unions had flourished prior to the 14-18 war. They alone gave a voice to those working men who were powerless as they could not vote, but they could demand their rights as individual workers through their trades unions.

As the war ended the increase in voting rights was not only due to the First World War and the Russian Revolutions but also to the hard work of trades unions fighting to raise standards of safety at work and to raise living conditions for working people.

In Llanelli in 1911, with many people living in poverty and no national health service, 111 babies died before their first birthday, that’s 2 babies per week. How different our lives are now!

We should never forget the days when a blockade of the railway tracks in Llanelli threatened the economy of the UK by blocking the trade route to Ireland and the events which shocked a nation, and although tragic, paved the way for a better, fairer, country.”

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