National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales preserves and celebrates the sound and moving image heritage of Wales, making it accessible to a wide range of users for enjoyment and learning. Its film collection reflects every aspect of the nation’s social, cultural and working life across the 20th century, giving a fascinating insight into Welsh filmmaking, both amateur and professional.
This film is part of Free
Memoirs of a Pit Orchestra
War and a grinding economy take their toll on the spirit and soul of the Welsh in this haunting, poetic study
Drama-documentary 1981 39 mins
From the collection of:
With dialogue and scenarios adapted from the work of poets such as Idris Davies and Harri Webb, archive material and roving musicians, Richard Watkins contemplates industrial south Wales, ravaged by capitalism's booms and busts. The Welsh – vital to the success of England's performance on a brightly-lit stage - accompany the main action unseen from the pit, loyal to a king and country that keep forsaking them.
Richard Watkins, the film-maker, was born (1948) and brought up in Swansea, his family having moved from farm to city after WWII. His other films include 'Milford Fishermen' and 'The Artist in Wales', both available on BFI Player. The words of several acclaimed Welsh poets is pivotal to this film, and the kind permission of the following estates, representatives and publishers was granted for the Unlocking Film Heritage project: Gomer Press and the estate of Idris Davies (Idris Davies); Seren Books (John Davies); Meic Stephens (Leslie Norris, Harri Webb).
The Arts on Film
1972 10 mins Location: Mayfair
A painterly profile of County Durham's brilliant miner-artist Tom McGuinness.
Documentary 1953 17 mins Silent Location: St Ives
A poetic portrait of sculptor Barbara Hepworth and the otherworldly Cornish landscapes which inspired her.
1978 29 mins
Impressionistic portrait of life as a dancer in London’s Ballet Rambert.
Documentary 1967 14 mins
Spend a few intense minutes with Giacometti in his Paris studio and see him at work on his striking sculptures.
Documentary 1972 13 mins
Filmed at the time Hockney was painting Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, this compelling study concentrates on the textures and light which surround the artist in his home and studio.
Documentary 1984 61 mins
Discover the 'name behind the hairstyle', in this essential portrait of the bard of Salford, aka John Cooper Clarke.
Advert 1959 12 mins Location: Merthyr Tydfil
What makes a South Wales Sunshine Girl? Well, the answer may vary depending on whether you ask a chauvinist or a feminist!
Biopic 1973 14 mins Location: Cardiff/Caerdydd
A glimpse of the life of a chain-smoking, proud-to-be-gay raconteur-of-sorts and resident of Whitchurch Hospital, Cardiff.
Documentary 1963 16 mins Location: Cardiff/Caerdydd
A boat is a work of art, as this film illustrates so beautifully.
The Opening of the Prince of Wales Hospital at Cardiff The Opening of the Prince of Wales Hospital at Cardiff
Non-Fiction 1918 13 mins Silent Location: Cardiff/Caerdydd
Miss Clara Deacon, matron (or 'commandant' as the press refer to her) of this pioneering hospital, accompanies the royal patron on his visit.
Encil Yr Haul/ The Sun's Retreat: an example of art in the environment Encil Yr Haul/ The Sun's Retreat: an example of art in the environment
Documentary 1978 19 mins Location: Cardiff/Caerdydd
A mechanical grave digger is co-opted to help with the creation of a garden at Glan Ely High School, Cardiff.
Home movie 1958 4 mins Silent Location: Llandudno
Donald Duck comes home with the Sunday School trippers from Bethel Chapel, Dyserth!
Documentary 2019 16 mins
Three years after their father passed, a family of four women come together through a series of phone calls spanning over three months.
Animation & Artists Moving Image 2017 4 mins
A comedy-drama animation about two best friends growing up in the same world but experiencing it completely differently.
Drama 2018 8 mins
Samona Olanipekun explores the concepts of home, identity and belonging, from the starting point of the theme of globalisation.
Drama 2017 16 mins
Compelling story of a complex relationship between an imperious father and his son.
Documentary 2020 28 mins
Three African American fathers unravel the incomparable partnership of forgiveness and community.
Music video 2019 8 mins
A conceptual film following musical artist Jords’ quest to serendipity. The Tree of Life’ is the cornerstone of the film as he battles to triumph through grief.
About the archive
Know this place?
Do you recognise a place, building or location in this film?
Help us populate the Britain on Film map by spotting and plotting the street or location you know. This is a BFI project and anyone can help.
Go to our Britain on Film crowdsourcing site and contribute to our mapping mission – to identify locations within our archive films.Add a location