The Underwater Graveyards of Tryweryn Valley, Wales

 In 1956, the Liverpool City Council sponsored a private bill that was pushed through parliament which allowed the council to flood the Tryweryn Valley in Wales without the consent of local representatives. The village of Capel Celyn, located in the valley, was one of the last Welsh-only communities at that time; In 1956, the Welsh language was being oppressed both politically and socially by the British government. During a vote for the proposed drowning of the Tryweryn Valley, 35 of the 36 Members of Parliament in Wales voted against the bill, with one abstention. The villagers of Capel Celyn, Wales fought the bill for eight long years. Many residents participated in a march from their doomed village to London in order to protest. In London, a reporter from BBC asked one protester why he wished to save the village when it was not by any means the most important or beautiful community in Wales. He responded, “Listen. My wife may not be the most important woman in Wales, nor the most beautiful. But I love her! And I certainly wouldn’t drown her.”. Despite the efforts of Welsh citizens and local representatives, the valley of Tryweryn Wales was drowned in 1965. Today, two churches and their graveyards (one of which is a Quaker cemetery) still remain underwater in the former village of Capel Celyn along with a school, a post office and other flooded structures and farmlands.

 Sadly, despite the fact that the Liverpool City Council assured the citizens of Capel Celyn that their loved one’s bodies would be relocated to another cemetery, only eight bodies were exhumed to be moved at the request of surviving family. Residents were also told before the flooding of their town, all headstones would be taken from the two cemeteries; The graveyards would be covered with a layer of gravel and encased in concrete out of respect to the deceased buried there. Obviously, the Liverpool City Council did not keep their promise and the graveyards now exist at the bottom of the Llyn Celyn reservoir.

Beginning in 1957, many Welsh across north and mid-Wales have written  “Cofiwch Dryweryn” (“Remember Tryweryn”) in graffiti as a reminder of history of their rocky relationship with Britain. In 2005, the Liverpool City Council officially apologized for the drowning of Tryweryn Wales.

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8 Comments

  1. Dam the Welsh

    The Scouser bosses needed dwr,
    To turn the wheels and cogs
    on machines to make big bucks,
    So my home became a bog.
    A soggy place it was too,
    that wet old day in ‘sixty five
    Where I was born and raised –
    Where I was expecting to die.
    Not the flooding of the valley,
    caused the waters to grow so deep,
    ‘twas the tears the community shed,
    As 67 pairs of eyes began to weep.
    Cae Fadog, Brynhyfryd, a Glan Celyn.
    Moel Fryn, Tynybont, ac y Llythyrdy.
    Hafod Fadog, Y Tyrpeg, a Treweryn,
    Y Capel, Y fynwent, ac Y Gelli.
    Skeletons drowned beneath the weight
    Of gallon upon gallon of water,
    But as they were already dead,
    It wasn’t classed as slaughter.
    Where now could I go to ask of Tad
    When best to sow the seeds,
    No answer now would I receive
    From way below those reeds.
    A pittance we were paid to move,
    “In the name of progress,” they stated.
    Behind the wall, Welsh water gathered,
    And those English appetites sated.
    MAC’s small army did their best
    To stem the tide of doom,
    Against the harsh decision made
    In Harold’s own front room.
    In the South of England today
    There’s a shortage of water they say.
    So among the verdant valleys of Wales,
    The natives fear they’ll be damned again.

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