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Sharp reminder of when workers had to fight.

The story of Wales' role in battling for a common vote has been retold. The streets of two Welsh cities were alive with the heat of revolution yesterday. Passers-by in Cardiff and Newport witnessed a political dispute which threatened to spill into violence. But the drama was a staged reenactment of the historic Newport uprising, where more than 20 campaigners were killed. It was part of a pre-election rally to promote voting for the Assembly elections. Under the slogan 'Dying to Vote', actors played out the arguments between the Chartists, who campaigned for votes for ordinary men, and the rich land owners who opposed their demands.

On November 4, 1839, the two sides clashed in Newport. Amid terrible winter weather, 3,000 campaigners marched in the town centre - many from the surrounding industrial valleys.

They were fired upon by soldiers based at the Westgate Hotel and 20 campaigners died. It was the flashpoint of the Chartist movement.

Ruth Taylor-Jones, 39, of Herian, the heritage group who organised the reconstruction, said, 'Wales was the first industrialised nation in the world and Chartism was about ordinary people trying to get a voice and improve their civic life.

'Though there were Chartist groups all over Britain, the Newport rising was the biggest incident.' The actors played out their roles in front of the Westgate Hotel in Newport and in The Hayes in Cardiff.
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 13, 2007
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