The Third Plaque
Plaque Installed on Trefechan Bridge
This week, a plaque was installed on Pont Trefechan to commemorate Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Lanuage Society)’s first major protest in 1963. As a Councillor, I took the matter to the Aberystwyth Town Council, arranged the plaque and I’m very pleased that the plaque is now on the bridge.
History of the Protest
The first protests in 1963 were a turning point in the history of the Welsh language, and also a turning point in Welsh history. After holding a protest to try to get leaflets and so on in Welsh in Aberystwyth Post Office, tens of people blocked the traffic on the bridge, earning national attention.
(picture: Casgliad Y Werin)
Since then, the bridge has come to symbolise the struggle for rights for Welsh speakers, a struggle which has borne fruit in several areas such as road signs, radio, TV, Welsh language services and leaflets from public bodies, Welsh medium education and so on (although there are still many things yet to be won!)
Because of this, the bridge has become a national icon and many attempts have been made to remember the original protest. For instance a large number of people recreated the protest twice in 2013, once as a genuine protest and once as part of the street drama Y Bont.
The first plaque was installed on the bridge by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg in the 1980s, but it came down – it is not known exactly how but many fear that hatred was behind this. The second plaque was placed by Aberystwyth Town Council in 2004.
Unfortunately, I was made aware on the night of 31 August 2015 that the plaque had come down from the bridge wall and had smashed on the ground. A member of the public had already informed the Police, and I went to see the site at around midnight
The next day, I had to collect the plaque from the Police Station in a suitcase!! The Police said that they were of the view that it was accidental, that the screws had rusted through, the plaque had fallen, someone had tried to glue the plac back into place and it had fallen again and smashed. Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion that it couldn’t be fixed.
I put a motion to the Council for us to buy a new plaque of the same type and hold an unveiling event. I said that the plaque would need to have 6 screws, of a material that would not rust, rather than 2, in order to ensure that the plaque would stay in place. The motion was passed: Hooray!! After ordering the plaque, I had a site meeting on Friday with Paul James of James Memorials, Llandre and by Wednesday the plaque was up!!
I feel that this has added a lot to the town. Plaques are a great focus for remembering and for informing people about how much history there is in the town. They are also very good for visitors and tourists, and they look very smart. It’s very appropriate to note something so crucial and important that happened here in Aberystwyth