8 Year campaign led to legal proceedings and bailiffs removal of wedding presents until the council relented.

Sometimes I think it is important to remember what went before.  In Wales bilingualism and letters etc available in both languages in now commonplace but it wasnt that long ago that it wasnt the case as can be seen by this blog.

The blog recounts the steps Eileen Beasley and her husband went to ensure that they received letters in Welsh their first language.


The Rosa Parks of the Welsh language movement

The Rosa Parks of the language movement in Wales was a polite but steel-willed housewife who, with her husband, refused to pay rates on their house in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire, while Llanelli Rural District Council issued demands in English only.

In this Eileen and Trefor Beasley had, at first, the support of nobody but themselves. They reasoned that as they lived their lives through the Welsh language, and their village was Welsh-speaking, as were the majority of Council members, it was reasonable that they should be able to use the language in their dealings with officialdom.

But the Council, like most others in Wales in the 1950s, had never thought of providing services in Welsh. They flatly refused to comply with the Beasleys’ request, continuing to communicate with them in English only. In this they greatly underestimated the couple’s strong wills.

Bailiffs began calling at their home and removing household goods such as chairs and tables, and then the family’s piano, the carpets, the bookcases and even food from the larder, distraining goods to the value of the rates that remained unpaid.

Having bailiffs in the house was, for the law-abiding Beasleys, a distressing experience, especially as they would arrive without warning and, without consultation, take items of furniture that had been wedding presents.

Legal proceedings for the non-payment of rates were taken against the Beasleys on twelve occasions but still they would not accept demands in English. They could hardly afford to pay the fines, especially as they lived on a coal-miner’s wage and had two small children, and they stoutly refused to do so as a matter of principle.

The campaign that had begun in 1952 came to an end in 1960 when the Council grudgingly issued a Welsh form and the Beasleys promptly paid their rates. In 1958 Eileen was elected as a Plaid Cymru member of the same District Council, where she continued to press for a degree of official status for the language.

In 1962 their determination proved a stimulus to the activities of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society), especially as Saunders Lewis, in his famous radio broadcast of that year, Tynged yr Iaith (The Fate of the Language), singled out the Beasleys for praise and urged supporters to emulate their civil disobedience.

His aim was to persuade Plaid Cymru to adopt ‘direct action’ techniques which would win for Welsh the legal status it had enjoyed before the loss of political independence, a condition he considered essential if the language was to be saved from extinction. But Plaid Cymru felt unable to contemplate unconstitutional methods, preferring to use electoral methods only. Lewis’s other aim was to make the governance of Wales impossible while the authorities, both local and central, refused to employ Welsh for public purposes.

The challenge was taken up instead by the Cymdeithas which, over the last half-century, has played a leading role in the achievement of many important goals in such areas as broadcasting, education, the law, and local government, while Plaid Cymru has been left free to concentrate on its political agenda. Today the language is much more visible and used in an ever-increasing variety of contexts.

The Beasleys’ stand inspired a generation of young Welsh nationalists to challenge the law, for which many were fined and some imprisoned, and they remained heroes of the movement ever after. Trefor spent a week in prison for refusing to acknowledge an English-only fine for the non-payment of road-tax.

Like her husband, who was the very type of a cultured miner, widely read, politically aware and radically inclined, Eileen was highly literate; she published a selection of her short stories as Yr Eithin Pigog (The prickly gorse) in 1997.

At this year’s National Eisteddfod in the Vale of Glamorgan there was an empty stall, representing the Beasleys’ living-room stripped of its furniture, which was meant to be a tribute to the courage and dignity of a couple who were well-liked and generally admired. It was a poignant reminder of what sometimes has to be done to persuade officialdom on a point of principle whenever it is a question of the public use of the Welsh language.

“Teachers have an amazing opportunity to look at parallels between the education systems of New Zealand and Wales.

Following from post about the New Zealand teachers coming to look at the bilingual system in Wales, they are now here and will be looking at the similarities and differences between the two systems. It will be a unique opportunity for them to see the good practice in both and use this knowledge to improve language learning and bilingual education so I for one will be keeping a close eye on the results.

“The opportunity to swap stories, compare approaches, and form networks makes this an invaluable exchange for those charged with empowering the next generation of first language speakers in both countries.”

Some of the highlights of the report are below.

“I tailor my reo to suit, so for a child who has English as a second language and is new to New Zealand it could be less than for a Maori child who speaks some reo at home,” she said.

“Some kohanga reo [pre-school classes] only take children who speak reo at home so learning between kohanga and home can be consolidated.

Nichola McCall, 27, from Manurewa High School, Auckland, who is making her first
visit to Wales, said: “I want to speak to community leaders, principals and
teachers in Wales and find out how they manage to get that equality between the
two languages.


Two colleges in Wales celebrate Bilingualism

Two colleges in Wales celebrate Bilingualism.


Coleg Powys staff and students wore red as part of two special days to celebrate Welsh language and culture.

On Friday 7th September in Brecon and Monday 10th September in Newtown, the College held its Diwrnodau Dathlu Cymru (Celebrating Wales Days) to raise awareness of the opportunities and career benefits of bilingual skills in Wales.

Both college sites were decorated with Welsh flags and bunting and a variety of Welsh music was played in communal areas. The students heard from a number of motivational speakers, who shared their experiences of using Welsh and bilingual skills to further their own careers.

In Brecon the inspirational guest speakers were:

  • Robin Gwyn, the College’s recently appointed Director of Bilingualism.
  • Afryl Davies, joint founder/owner of Cardiff-based communications and media production company, Goriad Cyf. http://www.goriad.com/
  • Sian Roberts, broadcaster, voiceover artist and Welsh food & hospitality consultant. http://coginio.com/
  • Geraint Williams, Managing Director of Llanelli based legal consultancy, Lexium. http://www.lexium.co.uk/

In Newtown the students learned valuable lessons from:

Menter MaldwynColeg Powys would like to thank all the speakers and Menter Maldwyn (http://www.mentermaldwyn.org) for their help in organising the Newtown day.

As well as the celebrations and speakers, students also spent time doing their own research on the Welsh language and culture and undertook some assessments on their own linguistic abilities.

Robin Gwyn, Director of Bilingualism, said:

“Over recent years, Welsh-medium education has increased at all levels across Wales from primary school level upwards. There has, however, been a significant number of Welsh-medium educated young people who choose to stop studying through the medium of Welsh when they reach a new key stage of learning.  One of the stages where this drop off occurs is in the transition from secondary school to further education (FE) college.

“As a result, Coleg Powys is committed to expanding the opportunities available to FE students in mid Wales by helping the Welsh Government provide ‘cradle to grave’ progression in Welsh medium education to increase the supply and demand for bilingual workers and services in the public, private and third sectors.

“It’s an integral part of our overall aim to achieve excellence in all we do in terms of helping young people and lifelong learners in Powys to fulfil their potential through innovative learning.”

Welsh Language plans

Currently talks are underway re. the use of Welsh in Wales. They wish to be fully bilingual

Welsh speakers would be able to access fully bilingual public services if new plans outlined for the language are given the go-ahead.

A Welsh Language Measure, which came into force last year, set a duty on public organisations to treat the Welsh language no less favourably than English

See more at:


Companies would be wise to seek out EMASUK and their text translator for  their flyers, letters and booklets. just cut and paste to make a bilingual document. Email d.eley@emasuk.com for more information and cost effective prices.