By Colin Baber, L. J. Williams

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Nevertheless all four canals were successful in providing an acceptable return to their shareholders, though this varied substantially over time. 38 Of greater consequence, however, was the fact that the shareholders made a cheap investment in their own and therefore the region's future. 40 It would be surprising if these and other banking interests were not sympathetic to the extraneous needs for short­term funds that could not be met out of current revenue. 41 Although Page 34 technically, the canals of south Wales were simpler to build than most of their English counterparts despite the heavy lockage which they entailed, nevertheless their construction was dependent upon simple rudimentary tools and horsepower, and was carried out before the ordnance survey brought civil engineering works more into the modern age.

43 According to Ravenstein's estimates in Tables 8 and 9, there were 934,530 persons able to speak Welsh at the beginning of the 1870s, or 66 per cent of the population of Wales.  Ravenstein, 'On the Celtic Languages in the British Isles: a Statistical Survey', Journal of the Statistical Society, XLII, Part III (September 1879), 620.  If Ravenstein's figure of 934,530 Welsh speakers in 1871 was anywhere near the truth, the corresponding total in 1891 would be well over a million instead of 910,289 as reported in the census of that year.

Ravenstein, 'On the Celtic Languages in the British Isles: a Statistical Survey', Journal of the Statistical Society, XLII, Part III (September 1879), 620.  If Ravenstein's figure of 934,530 Welsh speakers in 1871 was anywhere near the truth, the corresponding total in 1891 would be well over a million instead of 910,289 as reported in the census of that year.  This would have been a disaster to the Welsh language.  That tired old cliché about the northern and western rural areas as the heartland of Welsh culture should be given a well­earned rest.

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