This film is part of Free

Merthyr Vale and Aberfan: Coronation festivities

Coronation capers in mining villages: street parties, 3-legged racing and a Commonwealth-themed carnival with slaves and a caged canary.

Non-Fiction 1953 11 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


The wide streets of the mining villages are perfect for street parties and bunting, and the 1953 coronation brings everyone out to celebrate. After the parties comes the carnival, with many contributions relating to the peoples of the Commonwealth but including a caged (model) canary. Strikingly at odds with the general tenor of the procession, 3 men have completely blacked-up and, chained together, cower and tremble as a 4th man, the slave master, whips them along.

Real canaries were used down the mines to warn of gas – see ‘Lle Triga’r Caneri’ (Welsh with English subtitles) for a history of the well-loved songster that saved many lives.