THE founder of the South Wales Miners Library and former Labour politician Dr Hywel Francis has died aged 74.

Dr Francis’ family confirmed last night that he had died at the Morriston Hospital in Swansea yesterday, Sunday.

In a tribute to him, the South Wales Miners Library said: “We are devastated to learn of the passing of Hywel Francis, founder and tireless supporter of the South Wales Miners’ Library.

“His remarkable career as historian, politician and adult educator exuded wisdom, humour and a strong sense of social justice. He will be greatly missed.”

Born in Neath on June 6, 1946, he worked at the University of Wales, Swansea for a number of years, it was here where he earned a doctorate in history.

He served as MP for Aberavon between 2001 and 2015, and was chairman of the Joint Committee of Human Rights between 2010 and 2015.

He was a founding trustee of the Bevan Foundation in its creation almost 20 years ago. He was a trustee and vice chair of the foundation until 2012. Part of the foundation’s statement following Dr Francis’ death said: “Even though he stood down as a Trustee of the Bevan Foundation in 2012, he continued to be a staunch supporter, for example hosting the Bevan Prize for Health and Well-being for several years. We like to think that he was proud of our recent achievements. It is no exaggeration to say that the Bevan Foundation would not be here without Hywel’s vision and energy. We are deeply saddened that we will not mark our 20th birthday with him.

“The Bevan Foundation, the Assembly and indeed the people of Wales owe Hywel a deep debt.”


Torfaen MP and shadow Welsh secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds led tributes to Dr Francis on social media.

He said: “Devastated to hear the news that Hywel Francis, former @WelshLabour MP for Aberavon (2001-15), historian, activist and an all-round lovely, compassionate person who strove to make life better for others, passed away earlier today. Thoughts with his wife Mair and all his family.”

First minister Mark Drakeford said: “Hywel Francis was a Labour historian of real distinction. A former chair of the Welsh affairs select committee and a staunch supporter of everything Welsh.

“It was a privilege to have worked with him, when he ceased to be a member of Parliament and turned his formidable energies to helping the Welsh Government. My thoughts are with Mair and his family.”

Islwyn MP Chris Evans said: “So sad to hear my dear friend Hywel Francis has passed away. I will remember him as a kind, compassionate man. My thoughts are with his wife, Mair, and family. He will be greatly missed.”

Caerphilly MP Wayne David said: “Devastating news that Hywel Francis has passed away. Hywel was a brilliant historian and educationalist. He was the former Labour MP for Aberavon and a good friend for many years. My thoughts are with Mair and his family.”

Torfaen MS Lynne Neagle said: “So very sorry to hear that Hywel Francis has passed away. My thoughts are with Mair and all his family at this very sad time.”