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Drowning of Capel Celyn

The fight to save Frongoch’s neighbouring village set off protests that hugely influenced modern Wales.

In the 1950s Liverpool Council proposed evicting the population of Capel Celyn, a village only 5km from Frongoch. They hoped to build a reservoir to supply drinking water for the city.

There was huge opposition in Wales. Thirty-five out of thirty-six Welsh MPs voted against the evictions in the London parliament (the other did not vote). However the villagers were forced out and their houses drowned to build the Tryweryn dam.

The Tryweryn reservoir controvercy resulted in many protests. There was a sharp rise in support for the idea of a Welsh parliament. Demonstrations where held calling for official status and the right to education in the Welsh language.

A more militant response was the formation of the Free Wales Army and Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru or MAC. Using tactics reminiscent of those once taught by Michael Collins at Frongoch – MAC blew up a transformer on the dam construction site in February 1963. MAC went on to carry out a number of other bombings in the next six years.

After decades of non-violent campaigning the Welsh language now has legal status and is widely used in schools.

Wales’ own Assembly Government was eventually established in 1999 following years of debate and gradual rise in support.