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Last Updated: Friday, 13 February, 2004, 16:14 GMT
How Welsh is Liverpool?
Welsh workers help build the city of Liverpool
Ian Rush, Neville Southall and Michael Owen are high-profile products of the strong history that exists between north Wales and Liverpool.

But these football stars are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the two-way relationship between the areas.

Historically, Welsh-speaking communities helped build the city of Liverpool and its world-famous docks.

But residents of Liverpool - referred to by some as the capital of north Wales - also boost tourism back in Wales.

In Colwyn Bay on Thursday, academics and business leaders debated the question "Does Liverpool belong to north Wales?" and looked at whether the historic relationship is on the wane.

Claire Johnson from the Institute of Welsh Affairs which organised the event said "it was very well attended".

Geographical proximity is one obvious reason for the close relationship, as people travel from north Wales for shopping, cultural events and nights out, while many Liverpudlians holiday in north Wales resorts.

North Wales does look to Liverpool as the capital to this day
Gareth Thomas, Clwyd West MP

But, last year, Labour Clwyd West MP Gareth Thomas, who was brought up on Merseyside, said the links went much deeper.

"The ties of affinity are far greater between north Wales and Liverpool than between north Wales and Cardiff," he said.

"We have got a health service which operates across the borders, people working and shopping there, and a cultural identity that continues.

"North Wales does look to Liverpool as the capital to this day."

Reverend D Ben Rees, a member of the Liverpool Welsh society, attended Thursday's debate.

North Wales tourism benefits from visitors from Liverpool

He said most people came to Liverpool from north west Wales as the city was beginning to grow in the late 18th century.

"They came usually from Anglesey and Caernarfonshire because it was easier for them to come by small boats to work on the docks," he said.

"A lot of people also came to work on the Liverpool-Leeds canal, to set Liverpool on its great growth of the 19th century. "

By 1813, around 10% of Liverpool's residents were Welsh and, at the end of the 19th century, four National Eisteddfodau held in the city.

Reverend Rees also said that communities in the city were still able to produce children who speak the Welsh language.

It is a lot easier for people in Liverpool to access north Wales, and people of north Wales to access Liverpool
Warren Bradley, Liverpool's Capital of Culture bid

Warren Bradley, who sits on Liverpool's City of Culture, agreed there was a strong affinity between the areas.

"People in north Wales and councils in north Wales have invariably worked with Liverpool better than the people in Cardiff," he said.

"It is a lot easier for people in Liverpool to access north Wales, and people of north Wales to access Liverpool."

Liverpool is bidding to host the Welsh eisteddfod, to mark its 800th birthday in 2007 and its year as capital of culture in 2008.

But the infamous attack on the Welsh by Anne Robinson, who was brought up in Liverpool, showed that not everyone shares such fond feelings about the links.

Air Wales drops Liverpool flight
20 Jan 04  |  South East Wales
Culture bid winner visits eisteddfod
09 Jul 03  |  North East Wales
North to benefit from culture win
04 Jun 03  |  North East Wales
Divided loyalties in culture bid
03 Jun 03  |  North East Wales

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