The “Chartists” were 19th century Britain’s first mass movement for parliamentary democracy. United behind their six-point charter, they made three concerted efforts in 1839, 1842 and 1848 to get the Charter enacted. After their first National Convention in 1839 and the Government’s refusal to meet their demands there were murmurings of a national uprising. However, the only rebellious act occurred in Monmouthshire when in early November 1839 five thousand colliers in three columns marched on Newport. In the disturbance that followed fourteen marchers lay dead and the three leaders Frost, Williams and Jones were transported.
One hundred and forty years later Wynford Jones had the idea to tell their story inwords and song. Together with fellow musicians of Islwyn Folk Club he worked on the project through the summer and early autumn of 1979. The finished work, which met with immediate acclaim, was premiered at the club on November 2nd.
Since the premiere, “The Chartists” has been well received whether performed at folk clubs, festivals or in schools. The production has been broadcast in its entirety, on both C.B.C. (the Cardiff Independent station, later known as Red Dragon FM) and by B.B.C. Radio Wales/ Radio Cymru. In 1981 the production was seen at theCardiff, Chepstow and Pontardawe Festivals