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Billy Hughes: Australia's first Welsh prime minister

Welshman Billy Hughes was Australia's PM during WWI
Welshman Billy Hughes was Australia's PM during WWI

While Barry-born Julia Gillard has become Australia's first female prime minister, she is not the first Welsh person in the job.

North Wales got there first, with the title going to Billy Hughes, a Welsh speaker raised in Llandudno, which is now in the county of Conwy.

He became Australia's first PM and longest serving parliamentarian, amassing 51 years and seven months' service.

While Ms Gillard was four when she emigrated with her parents from the Vale of Glamorgan, Billy Hughes - born William Morris Hughes in 1862 - made his life-changing move as a young man, starting out as a labourer.

He emigrated in 1884, ran his own shop while doing other work, joined the Socialist League in 1892 and continued his studies to become a barrister.

Julia Gillard
Julie Gillard left Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan when she was four

He became a member of Australia's House of Representatives in 1901, becoming the prime minister in 1915, and was a prominent supporter of the war in Europe.

In 1916, he returned to Britain as part of the UK war cabinet of another Welshman, David Lloyd George.

Both Welshmen would speak together in their mother tongue, according to Bob Barnsdale, a Llandudno historian.

His last visit to north Wales was in 1921 when he and his wife stayed in St George's Hotel, and he stood outside his old home, Bryn Rosa, a guesthouse today on Abbey Road which bears a plaque in his memory.

His mother died when he was a boy and he was sent to live with his father's sister in Llandudno, going to Llandudno grammar school, before re-joining his father in London where he was as a pupil teacher prior to emigrating.

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