The history of Wales in the nineteenth and early twentieth century is a history of the growth of the working class. The growing Welsh economy rested on basic capital commodities,
predominantly iron, coal and steel, which fed the developing industries of the English midlands and north.
Welsh industry was built to a very great extent with capital from England by English masters. The rural peasantry were sucked into the mines and ironworks and no middle class other than small shopkeepers and professionals developed. This meant that by the turn of the twentieth century the working class was the class which stamped its mark on Welsh society. And the history of that class is a history of struggle.
This history is becoming better known. School history courses include sections on the hosts of Rebecca and the Chartist march on Newport. But, as with most things Welsh, there is a range of mountains between south and north. In many ways working class struggles were harder and even more bitter than in the south. The workers’ long war against the Penrhyn quarry owners deserves to be better known than it is. Hopefully this pamphlet will help.
- From the introduction