Birthplace of the Welsh Language Movement

Open to the public for the first time is the Birthplace of the Welsh Language Movement and the location of the Beasley family’s eight year struggle to obtain a Welsh rate demand between 1952 and 1960. Their struggle is widely credited as marking the beginning of modern efforts to save the Welsh language and give it official recognition in Wales.Trefor and Eileen Beasley had bought the cottage as their first married home, but their simple request for the council rate demand form to be provided in Welsh met with sustained refusal and hostility, despite all the councillors at that time being Welsh-speakers themselves. Over the next few years they appeared in court 16 times for non-payment of rates, and the bailiffs took away their furniture on 4 occasions. They eventually won their battle in 1960, when the English only form was replaced by a well-designed bilingual one. In his famous St Davids’ Day radio lecture of 1962, Tynged yr Iaith (Fate of the Language), Saunders Lewis drew attention to the Beasleys’ battle, and commended it as a way forward for language activists at a time when Welsh was rapidly losing ground to English. This led to the establishment of the Welsh Language Society, and eventually the recognition of Welsh as an official language in Wales.

The Beasleys’ campaign for the Welsh language has since been made into a children’s book Darn Bach o Bapur (A Small Piece of Paper) by the renowned Welsh novelist, Angharad Tomos. She also wrote the stage play Dyled Eileen (Eileen’s Debt), with which Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru (the Welsh National Theatre) toured Wales in 2013 and staged at the National Eisteddfod at Llanelli in 2014. Rhian Morgan won the Wales Best Actress of the Year Award in 2013 for her portrayal of the older Eileen Beasley in the play.

During their campaign, the Beasleys received many letters of support from Wales, England, Brittany and North America. One of the most interesting ones came from Brother David, a native of Dafen, Llanelli who became a film star in the United States under the name Gareth Hughes, and later a missionary with the Paiute tribe on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation in Nixon, Nevada. It was while he was working with them that he wrote his letter of support to the Beasleys, having read of their efforts in the Llanelli papers.

The present owner of the cottage, Mr Hart, has agreed to the placing of the plaque on the building, and to its renaming as “Tŷ’r Beasleys” (The Beasleys’ House). He said “I was delighted to learn that the house had such a distinguished place in Welsh history, and am glad that a new generation will be able to learn the part the house had to play in the revitalization of the Welsh language.” Mr Hart has generously arranged for the house to be opened to the public six times a year, with visitors being able to use the car park of the nearby Scouts Hall.