Lloyd George Museum

Lloyd George Museum

Shoemakers Workshop

Shoemakers Workshop

 

The Lloyd George Museum is dedicated to the life and times of David Lloyd George, the Welshman who was prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. It is located in Lloyd George's home village of Llanystumdwy, Wales. The Museum includes Highgate, the boyhood home of Lloyd George, which has been recreated to appear as it was in the late 19th Century. There is a unique display of objects - caskets and scrolls presented to him as freedom honours, medals, paintings, pictures, documents such as the Versailles Treaty, 'Lloyd George's crown', costumes and personal items - a film about Lloyd George and an amazing talking head. There is also a Victorian classroom. Highgate is furnished as it was when Lloyd George lived here as a child between 1864 and 1880. The original desks of Lloyd George and his brother can be seen here, and the shoemaker's workshop has been recreated. You can enjoy the Victorian cottage garden. They recommend that you bring a picnic and drinks with you, to get the most out of the experience. Wheelchair access to the museum is good and assistance dogs are welcome.

 

Lloyd George was born in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, to Welsh parents, and was brought up as a Welsh-speaker. He is so far the only British Prime Minister to have been Welsh and to have spoken English as a second language. His father, William George, had been a teacher in both London and Liverpool. He also taught in the Hope Street Sunday Schools, which were administered by the Unitarians, where he met Unitarian minister Dr James Martineau. In March of the same year, on account of his failing health, William George returned with his family to his native Pembrokeshire. He took up farming but died in June 1864 of pneumonia, aged 44. His widow, Elizabeth George (1828–96), sold the farm and moved with her children to her native Llanystumdwy in Caernarfonshire, where she lived in Tŷ Newydd with her brother Richard Lloyd (1834–1917), who was a shoemaker, a minister (in the Scotch Baptists and then the Church of Christ), and a strong Liberal. Lloyd George was educated at the local Anglican school Llanystumdwy National School and later under tutors. Lloyd George's uncle was a towering influence on him, encouraging him to take up a career in law and enter politics; his uncle remained influential up until his death at age 83 in February 1917, by which time his nephew had become Prime Minister. He added his uncle's surname to become "Lloyd George". His surname is usually given as "Lloyd George" and sometimes as "George". The influence of his childhood showed through in his entire career, as he attempted to aid the common man at the expense of what he liked to call "the Dukes" (that is, the aristocracy).

 

Brought up a devout evangelical, as a young man he suddenly lost his religious faith. Biographer Don Cregier says he became "a Deist and perhaps an agnostic, though he remained a chapel-goer and connoisseur of good preaching all his life." He kept quiet about that, however, and was hailed as "one of the foremost fighting leaders of a fanatical Welsh Nonconformity". It was also during this period of his life that Lloyd George first became interested in the issue of land ownership. As a young man he read books by Thomas Spence, John Stuart Mill and Henry George, as well as pamphlets written by George Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb of the Fabian Society on the issue of land ownership. By the age of twenty-one, he had already read and taken notes on Henry George's Progress and Poverty. This strongly influenced Lloyd George's politics later in life through the People's Budget which heavily drew on the georgist tax reform ideas. Articled to a firm of solicitors in Porthmadog, Lloyd George was admitted in 1884 after taking Honours in his final law examination and set up his own practice in the back parlour of his uncle's house in 1885. The practice flourished, and he established branch offices in surrounding towns, taking his brother William into partnership in 1887. Although many Prime Ministers have been barristers, Lloyd George is to date the only solicitor to have held that office.

 

In 1819, quarrying began on the slopes of Allt-fawr near Rhiwbryfdir Farm. This was on land owned by the Oakeley family from Tan y Bwlch. Within a decade, three separate slate quarries were operating on Allt-fawr and these eventually amalgamated to form Oakeley Quarry which would become the largest underground slate mine in the world. Quarrying expanded rapidly in the first half of the 19th century. Significant quarries opened at Llechwedd, Maenofferen and Votty & Bowydd, while Turner and Casson's Diphwys Casson flourished. Further afield, Cwmorthin and Wrysgan quarries were established to the south of the town, while at the head of Cwm Penmachno to the north east a series of quarries started at Rhiwbach, Cwt y Bugail and Blaen y Cwm. To the south east another cluster of quarries worked the slopes of Manod Mawr. The workforce for these quarries was initially taken from nearby towns and villages such as Ffestiniog and Maentwrog. Before the arrival of railways in the district, travel to the quarries was difficult and workers' houses were built near the quarries. These typically grew up around existing farms and along the roads between them. An early settlement was at Rhiwbryfdir, serving the Oakeley and Llechwedd quarries. As early as 1801, new roads were being built specifically to serve the quarries. By 1851, there were 3,460 people living in the new town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.

 

By then he was politically active, having campaigned for the Liberal Party in the 1885 election, attracted by Joseph Chamberlain's "unauthorised programme" of reforms. The election resulted firstly in a stalemate with neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives having a majority, the balance of power being held by the Irish Parliamentary Party. William Gladstone's announcement of a determination to bring about Irish Home Rule later led to Chamberlain leaving the Liberals to form the Liberal Unionists. Uncertain of which wing to follow, Lloyd George carried a pro-Chamberlain resolution at the local Liberal Club and travelled to Birmingham to attend the first meeting of Chamberlain's National Radical Union, but he had his dates wrong and arrived a week too early. In 1907, he was to say that he thought Chamberlain's plan for a federal solution correct in 1886 and still thought so, that he preferred the unauthorised programme to the Whig-like platform of the official Liberal Party, and that, had Chamberlain proposed solutions to Welsh grievances such as land reform and disestablishment, he, together with most Welsh Liberals, would have followed Chamberlain.

 

On 24 January 1888 he married Margaret Owen, the daughter of a well-to-do local farming family. Also in that year he and other young Welsh Liberals founded a monthly paper Udgorn Rhyddid (Bugle of Freedom) and won on appeal to the Divisional Court of Queen's Bench the Llanfrothen burial case; this established the right of Nonconformists to be buried according to their own denominational rites in parish burial grounds, a right given by the Burial Laws Amendment Act 1880 that had up to then been ignored by the Anglican clergy. It was this case, which was hailed as a great victory throughout Wales, and his writings in Udgorn Rhyddid that led to his adoption as the Liberal candidate for Carnarvon Boroughs on 27 December 1888. In 1889 he became an Alderman on the Carnarvonshire County Council which had been created by the Local Government Act 1888. At that time he appeared to be trying to create a separate Welsh national party modelled on Parnell's Irish Parliamentary Party and worked towards a union of the North and South Wales Liberal Federations. For the same county Lloyd George would also become a JP (1910) and chairman of Quarter Sessions (1929–38), and Deputy Lieutenant in 1921.

 

Location : Lloyd George Museum, Llanystumdwy, Cricieth, Gwynedd, LL52 0SH

Transport : Criccieth (National Rail) then bus (3, 3T, S97). Bus Routes : 3, 3T and S97 stop outside.

Opening Times : Daily 10:30 to 17:00; Closed Sundays April to June.

Tickets : Adults £5.00;  Seniors/Concessions £4.00;  Children £4.00

Tel : 01766 522071