Page last updated at 21:21 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

Sculptures mark town's riot role

The Rebecca riots sculpture
The sculpture is part of wider improvements to the area

A sculpture to mark the role of a Carmarthenshire town during the Rebecca riots of the 1800s has been unveiled.

During the rural revolt against toll roads, protestors tore down gates in St Clears, Carmarthenshire in one of the first acts of the uprising.

Wooden carvings depicting scenes of the protests were made as part of a 95,000 improvement scheme in the town.

The funding of the project has come from the European Union and the Welsh Assembly Government.

Heritage Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas, who unveiled the sculpture, said: "The project acknowledges the daring and foresight of our forefathers in challenging the evident inequities of rural life in 1830s.

"St Clears Town Council and Carmarthenshire County Council are to be commended for providing this lasting reminder of their achievement and doing so in a setting which enhances the town and encourages its development".

Artist Simon Hedger, who designed the sculpture, said: "We can see that people were struggling for what was a fundamental part of their life, isn't it... and so I hope it is that sort of passion I put into my sculpture."

Dr Edmund Davies, a former mayor of St Clears, said of the riots: "In the end it was successful, it took a long time and then the gates came down and the government had to listen to the voice of the people."

The gates in St Clears were the second and third of more than a 100 to be attacked in the riots, which were a response by poor farmers against the high prices charged to travel on private toll roads.

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