Tredegar Anti-Jewish Riots of 1911Prepared for JCR-UK by David Shulman
In 1911, Tredegar was a mining town with an important iron works. However, the town, which had flourished in the nineteen century, was going through a severe economic crisis, in common with many of the Welsh mining communities. There had been several coal strikes due to wage reductions, and prices had risen as a result of a railway strike that had created a shortage of basic goods.
The local Jewish community in Tredegar was relatively affluent and many were local traders. They also owned a number of properties in the town which they reputedly rented out at high rents, which the hard-pressed tenants were finding difficulty to pay.
One Saturday night in August 1911, a group of workers, after a night at the pub, attacked a Jewish shop. By the time the police arrived, the number of rioters had multiplied to more than 200 and they were rampaging through any property having Jewish connections in Tredegar. The windows of Jewish owned properties were broken, eighteen shops were plundered and destroyed by the rioters, but nobody was injured.
Winston Churchill, the British Home Secretary, sent in the army, but the troops arrived after the rioting had largely subdued.
Contrary to certain reports of the incident, the riots did in fact spread beyond Tredegar and affected (but to a much lesser extent) many communities in the Welsh Valleys.
There appeared to be no permanent damage to the relationship between the Jewish and non-Jewish inhabitants of the town and the Jews continued to live and trade in Tredegar many years to come.
The Tredegar riots were the only reported instance in Britain of serious anti-Jewish riots since medieval times (although there had been widespread anti-Jewish demonstrations against the so-called "Jew Bill" of 1753) and were probably as much a symptom of the general economic difficulties facing the population as any inherent anti-Semitism.
The following list of publications on the Tredegar Riots has been compiled by Harold Pollins and kindly provided to JCR-UK:
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