Pupils pour from their narrow doorway onto the street, the rain dampening no-one’s spirits as they leapfrog and piggyback on the thoroughfare, amid carts and passers-by, a chimney sweep lounging decoratively centre-frame. A boys’ ‘strong horse’ formation soon falls apart but it hardly matters, as the point is to look lively for the camera – it will all draw people to the local cinema!
Arthur Cheetham (1865-1937) was an entrepreneur, cinema proprietor and pioneer filmmaker - the first in Wales to film scenes and events for his own shows. 12 of his 47 films, shot mostly from 1898 to 1904, survive partly or wholly. In turn-of-century Rhyl, elementary education was denominational, with schools being ‘British’ as seen here (Nonconformist) , ‘National’ (Anglican), and Catholic. In 1983 Mrs Adelaide Owen (the chimney sweep’s niece) recalled helping Cheetham, as a young teacher, film pupils emerging from the schools: ‘I kept every child on the go. So there was a constant stream’.