Bust of Jim Griffiths

Bust of Jim Griffiths

From Colliery to the First Secretary of State for Wales

Published 12/05/2022   |   Last Updated 12/05/2022   |   Reading Time minutes

On Wednesday, 11 May 2022, the Llywydd, the Rt Hon. Elin Jones and First Minister, the Rt Hon. Mark Drakeford presented a statue of Jim Griffiths, the first Secretary of State for Wales, in the Senedd.  

The event, which included other notable speakers such as current Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart MP, Lord Morris of Aberavon, Nia Griffiths MP, Dr D Ben Rees and Gwynoro Jones unveiled the temporary display in the Neuadd of the Welsh Parliament in Cardiff Bay.  

The event celebrated Griffiths, who entered politics having left his work at a local colliery at 29 years old in 1921, joining the likes of Aneurin Bevan and Morgan Phillips studying in London, before being elected as an MP for Llanelli in 1936.

The Carmarthenshire man campaigned tirelessly to various Prime Ministers to set up the role of Secretary of State for Wales before finally, in 1964, Harold Wilson appointed Griffiths the first Secretary of State for Wales.   

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:  

“The contribution of James Griffiths to Wales, and to the United Kingdom has been overlooked in recent times, in a way which would have been hard to imagine in his lifetime.  

“The Deputy Leader of the UK Labour Party, the architect of fundamental welfare state legislation, and an absolutely consistent campaigner for greater devolution, his last post in government was to be the charter Secretary of State for Wales.  

“It is hugely fitting that today’s event marks that contribution at the heart of contemporary Welsh democracy”. 

Elin Jones MS, Llywydd of the Senedd, said:  

“Jim Griffiths’ determined campaign for the creation of the Secretary of State for Wales position means he will always have a place in our political history.  

“Welcoming this exhibition to the Senedd this week highlights just how far Wales and devolution has come since his tireless campaign to establish a Secretary of State for Wales.  

“He is an important figure in Wales’ proud history of political giants, and I’m pleased to host his statue here in the Senedd.” 

The statue will be on display in the Neuadd until Friday, 19 May 2022, before moving back to its permanent home at Carmarthenshire Museum in their new section dedicated to change makers.