THE LLANELLI RIOTS, 1911 ON Saturday, 19 August 1911, a series of events occurred in the tin-plate town of Llanelli which came to be known to contemporaries and to historians alike as the Llanelli Riots.1 These events prompted a hostile reference to the town in the editorial columns of The Times, an exchange in the House of Commons, even a comment by King George V.2 Sympathisers with the victims of the riots produced a commemorative banner which linked Llanelli with Tolpuddle, Featherstone and Liverpool as symbols of working-class sacrifice.3 Opponents denounced the riots and the town itself as a blight on history. The ripples continued to eddy long after, and as late as 1916 the Home Office was still plagued with petitions and demands for compensation. Yet, over the subsequent seventy years, the memory faded and all but disappeared. Occasionally, historians have resurrected the events to illustrate more general comments or hypotheses regarding the period of profound industrial unrest before 1914, but Llanelli itself became remarkably reticent about this dazzling moment in its otherwise uneventful history. No commemorative stone was erected, no mural painted and no local historian came forward to tell the tale. The local Labour party studiously ignored the events in its fiftieth-anniversary pamphlet and the graves of the victims became lost in an overgrown corner of the municipal cemetery. All this was in marked contrast to the treatment, both by local people and historians, of similar contemporaneous riots and disturbances. Tonypandy has become part of working-class iconography, while Liverpool and Hull are frequently cited, and in considerable detail, as the best examples of popular disturbances in this period.5 Yet, in 1 The official name, Llanelli, has been used throughout this article except where particular contexts, such as quotations, involve the alternative, Llanelly. The Times, 21 August 1911, p. 7; Pari. Debates (Commons), 5th series, xxix (22 August 1911), col. 2332fr; George V to Winston Churchill, 20 August 1911, Royal Archives, Windsor (quoted in Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill [2 vols., 1966-68], vol. 2, pp. 385-86). 'The banner was used in a 'funeral' procession in Poplar, east London; South Wales Press (SWP), 6 September 1911, p. 3. An identical banner appears to have been used at the Labour demonstration in Llanelli on 9 September: SWP, 13 September 1911, p. 4. 4 On rare occasions when historians have referred to these events in detail they have either conflated the events in one continuous series or mistakenly identified the participants: Bob Holton, British Syndicalism, 1900-14 (1976), pp. 105-6, or E. Halevy, The Rule of Democracy (1961 ed.), pp. 460-61. See also A. L. Morton and G. Tate, The British Labour Movement, 1770-1920 (1956), p. 247; R. Challinor, The Origins of British Bolshevism (1977), p. 65. 5 For Tonypandy, see David Smith, 'Tonypandy 1910: Definitions of Community', Past and Present, No. 87 (May 1980), pp. 158-84. The Hull riots are analysed in Keith Brooker, The Hull Strikes of 1911 (East Yorkshire Local History Series, No. 35, 1979), esp. pp. 15-16, 19-20. The Liverpool riots are examined in Philip Waller, Democracy and Sectarianism: A Political and Social History of Liverpool, 1868-1939 (Liverpool, 1981), esp. pp. 254fT.