Aneurin Bevan statue, Queen Street, Cardiff

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The statue at the west end of Queen Street depicts Aneurin Bevan, founder of the National Health Service. He was a powerful orator, and sculptor Robert Thomas chose to portray him in full flow, with his right arm extended to emphasise a point.

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Bevan, familiarly known as Nye, was born in Tredegar in 1897. He had nine siblings. He left school aged 13 and followed his father into coal mining. He spent many hours educating himself at Tredegar Workmen’s Hall before winning a scholarship to London’s Central Labour College in 1919. During the 1920s he was elected to Tredegar and Monmouthshire councils and, in 1929, as Labour MP for Ebbw Vale. He married fellow Labour MP Jennie Lee in 1934. The couple had no children.

After Labour won the 1945 general election, Bevan was appointed Minister of Health and set about replacing Britain’s private healthcare system with free medical and dental care for everyone who contributed to the National Insurance scheme. The plan met sustained opposition from doctors but Bevan stood firm and the NHS was launched in July 1948.

He also insisted on better standards for new post-war council housing, and was impressed by an innovative new estate in Beaumaris, Anglesey.

In 1951 he resigned from the cabinet in protest at the Government’s plan to introduce charges in the NHS. He became Labour’s deputy leader in 1959 but died of cancer in 1960. His funeral service was held at Westminster Abbey. Four large memorial stones were erected near Tredegar on a hillside where he once gave speeches.

The statue, erected here in 1987, is one of several in central Cardiff by Robert Thomas (1926-1999). He hailed from Cwmparc, Rhondda, and during the Second World War was one of the “Bevin Boys” (men sent to work in collieries). Many of his sculptures convey human warmth or traits, in contrast to the formally posed Victorian statues you can see in Cardiff. You can see his bust of Princess Diana in the foyer of St David’s Hall.

Postcode: CF10 2BU    View Location Map