Wales

Llanelli group plans fatal rail strike centenary events

Newspaper photograph John John (left) and Leonard Worsell
Image caption The Llanelli Mercury reported "reckless shooting by soldiers" over the killings

A group of history enthusiasts aim to mark the centenary of a national rail strike that saw two innocent men shot dead by troops.

Members of the Llanelli 1911 Rail Strike Committee are planning a series of events next year on the 100th anniversary of the shooting.

In August 1911, Leonard Worsell and John John, both 20, were killed near the town's railway station.

A plaque has been put up on a bridge in the town to mark the events.

The committee was set up to try to raise awareness about what happened and to organise a series of commemorations for next year.

Llanelli historian John Edwards has written a book about what happened, and the uprising that followed.

Railway workers in Llanelli, and in other towns and cities across the UK, were on strike over pay.

Hundreds of men gathered near the railway station to stop trains getting through.

But when one train managed to pass, the crowds ran after it and the soldiers opened fire. Neither victim had been directly involved in the uprising.

News of the deaths sent shockwaves through the town and there was looting that night.

Mr Edwards said: "At the time, when they heard about the shootings, there was a large meeting going on in the town.

"So they proceeded to the station, and smashed windows and so on. That led to looting in the evening.

"After the terrible intervention of the afternoon, the army was frozen in the station, all the army, and the police were inside."

Image caption A plaque has gone up on the bridge where the killings occurred

In Llanelli library, old newspaper headlines capture the fear people felt at the time.

The Llanelli Mercury, dated 24 August 1911, describes how "Saturday will be ever memorable in the history of Llanelli, for surely never was such a concentration of horrors crowded into a short 12 hours".

Tim Evans, chair of the recently-formed Llanelli 1911 Rail Strike Committee, said the tragedy had largely been forgotten.

He said: "I grew up in Llanelli, and I knew nothing about this.

"It has very much been hidden from history. We want to make sure these events are properly commemorated.

"What we'd really like to do for the centenary celebrations is have a week of events - plays, music, poetry, and a rally with speakers.

"We also want to make sure we've got a statue in the town centre, and possibly a mural."