This film is part of Free

E. H. Williams's Merrie Men: Double Dance and 'The School' sketch

Fun on Rhyl seafront as E. H. Williams and his troupe entertain crowds with much ducking and diving in this hectic act.

Non-Fiction 1899 2 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


Fancy footwork and slapstick draw the crowds on Rhyl seafront as E H Williams’s troupe perform this hectic show, filmed by pioneer Arthur Cheetham. Jimmy Charters and Fred Egan step niftily to harp, fiddle and double bass, before controlled choreography gives way to the slap, bang, wallop that is the ‘School Sketch’. With blacking-up and much gratiutous thwacking, politically correct this is not!

Arthur Cheetham (1865-1937) was an enterpeneur, cinema proprietor and pioneer filmmaker - the first in Wales to film events for his own shows. 12 of his 47 films, shot mostly from 1898 to 1904, survive partly or wholly. From 1889 to at least 1919 Cheetham was based in Rhyl, where summer beach amusements included minstrel shows like this one, of which he seems to have filmed 2 versions on one day. This NSSAW film shows the start and mid sections of the dance, whilst the BFI’s version shows more, excluding the start. Unlike the BFI version, this film includes the last part of the school sketch.