Photos: Noah Evans
John “Jac” John and Leonard Worsell were two young men who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when in 1911 a strike involving the local railway workers in Llanelli erupted into violence.
John John was shot as he stood in the garden of No 6 High Street, overlooking the railway line. The Worcester regiment had escorted a train through the station, but strikers and their supporters had succeeded in climbing on board and immobilising the engine. Some stone throwing took place (although, interestingly, none of the train’s windows were broken) and Major Stuart, in charge of the military, ordered the magistrate Henry Wilkins to read the Riot Act. When this had no effect, Stuart drew his watch and gave the crowd a minute to disperse. Then the soldiers opened fire.
Two men, John John and Leonard Worsell were taken into the kitchen at no 6 High Street where they were pronounced dead.
John “Jac” John was 21 when he was killed. A mill worker at the Morewood Tinplate Works he was a promising rugby player for the Oriental Stars. He was, according to a local rugby reporter, “one of the most popular young men in the town”.
Worsell had been suffering from tuberculosis, an endemic disease of the urban poor, and was being treated at Alltymynydd sanatorium. He was spending his weekend leave in Llanelli, and had interrupted his shaving in the back kitchen to see what all the fuss was about. He was killed by a bullet to the heart.
The march commemorates the strike each year stopping at No6 where the Riot Act is ceremoniously read out. It proceeds on to Spring Gardens where participants get the chance to make a speech. The march then moves on to Box Cemetery where wreaths are laid to honour the two men.
You can watch our film of the event here.
Railway Strike from Llanelli Online on Vimeo.