This film is part of Free

Senghenydd - Glamorgan, South Wales, portrait of a mining town

50 years after the Senghenydd mining disaster the town has changed, with new saw mill, bingo halls and television, but has the devastated community managed to resurrect itself?

Documentary 1964 17 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


Warwick company newsreel material of the Universal Colliery at Senghenydd on fire after an explosion on 14th October 1913, and footage of a funeral procession for some of the 439 mine workers who were killed, is followed by a collage of images of the town and its people as they are 50 years later. Wynford Vaughan Thomas, narrating his own commentary, wonders if "colour"- superficial re-decoration – can really make any difference to "the inner heart of Senghenydd".

James Clark shot this film on spare, blank pieces of film left over from his editing of the 1964 film 'Charade' (he went on to edit 'The World is Not Enough', 'The Killing Fields', for which he won an Oscar, and 'Vera Drake'). Bill Probert, a local amateur photographer and former miner (heard on the soundtrack) assisted Clark with his knowledge of the locality and the people. Wynford Vaughan Thomas wrote and narrated the script and the question at the heart of it is what kind of future a community can possibly have following such a tragedy. None of the inhabitants are interviewed but the overall impression is the obvious one – that life goes on, in some way or other, whatever the past.