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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 March, 2003, 14:56 GMT
Strike festival brings in big names
Super Furry Animals
Super Furry Animals will headline "Pesda Roc"
A gig by the Super Furry Animals is to be the highlight of a festival in north Wales to commemorate one of the longest-running industrial strikes in Britain.

Gwyl y Dathlu (the Festival of Celebration) will be held in Bethesda throughout 2003 to mark the end of the Penrhyn Quarry strike which lasted for three years.

Nearly 3,000 slate workers walked out of the Penrhyn quarry in 1900 in a dispute over pay and union membership.

Now the people of the town will take part in a festival to mark the end of the strike, which caused bitter divides between the families of those who stayed on strike and those who went back to work.

Dafydd Rhys, one of the organisers, said the aim is to celebrate the town's achievements.

Bethesda's Festival of Celebration
"Pesda Roc" with SFA, 21 June
WEA centenary concert with the Penrhyn Male Voice Choir, 22 June
New cyber cafe opening
Film festival
Food festival
Art and music workshops
Co-operation with Jamaican gospel singers
Unveiling of commemorative stained glass window

"It is a festival to celebrate creativity in Bethesda, 100 years after the strike, whatever people's experience of the strike or their stance on it.

"What happened during the Penrhyn strike is of great local and international importance.

"We also want to show an appreciation of the quarrymen's stand," he said.

Workshops, concerts and the opening of a new cyber caf on the town's high street are included in the celebrations which will run until November - the month the strike ended in 1903.

Strong links

A stained glass window will be unveiled at the end of the festival in Bethania Chapel, where the strike's committee meetings used to be held.

The celebrations coincide with the centenary of the Workers' Educational Association (WEA) which has strong links to Bethesda.

"There were close links between unionism and the WEA and the movement was strong in Bethesda," explained Dafydd Rhys.

As well as local organisations, individuals and WEA representatives, the Super Furry Animals have also been involved in the arrangements from the start.

The band's lead singer, Gruff Rhys, hails from Bethesda and says the hometown gig will have a local and international flavour.

Look to the future

He said in a recent interview: "It will have a mixture of international and local bands - Celt has already been confirmed.

"We hope to bring in bands that wouldn't normally play in north Wales, let alone Bethesda.

He added: "It's going to be an all-day event in a tent at Dl Ddafydd, where Dafydd, Prince Llywelyn's brother, used to train his soldiers - there will be interesting energies in that field!"

"It's about looking to the future not dwelling on the past," he added.

"The strike divided the town and still does - this festival is about bringing everyone together and celebrating the culture of Bethesda and the fact that it is still there."

The gig's marquee will hold an audience of about 6,000 and will be held on the site of the famous "Pesda Roc" gigs of the 1980s, which will be revived under the same name for the Penrhyn celebrations.

Morgan unveils strike memorial
11 Nov 00  |  Wales

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