In his autobiography, the great James Griffiths, MP for Llanelli and the first Secretary of State for Wales, recalls seeing a demonstration of working people in New York. One poster said, “Give us bread – and roses too.” This was taken from a poem written back in 1911 by James Oppenheim, during a textile workers strike. Part of that poem reads:
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for — but we fight for roses, too!
For James Griffiths that was what socialism meant. It was concerned not only with the means of survival – bread, but also the quality of life, symbolised by roses.
That’s why when the Parc Howard’s funding was under threat, I called a public meeting, from which we re-established the Parc Howard Association, to speak up for the preservation and enhancement of this precious asset. As a result of the Association’s work, we are celebrating Love Parks Week for the first time in Parc Howard, with a Teddy Bears’ picnic at 2pm on Wednesday 27th, rugby at 11am on Thursday and at 3pm on Sun 31st a joint presentation to commemorate the 1911 Railway Riots by Llanelli’s Stage Company, Youth Theatre and Musical Players.
It is not mere coincidence that Parc Howard was established in 1912, a year after Oppenheim wrote his poem; it was a time of social reform and vision, and the foundation of the modern welfare state.
Of course, we want jobs for Llanelli and decent housing, high-quality healthcare and good education. We also want our people to be able to enjoy things of beauty whether in the arts or in nature. Long may Parc Howard be an inspiration to the people of Llanelli.