Boasting a popular university created back in 1893, plus an attractive seafront complete with beach and pier, Aberystwyth in Ceredigion has been photographed and filmed many times over the past century.
Researching The Past
James Fox pulled together photographs and drawings of the same location taken at different times. The result is a fascinating journey through time.
By chance, the creator of YouTube channel magpie307 found an old Roberts bottle in a hedgerow. Next came research into the local David Roberts & Sons brewery that operated for a century until the Second World War. Then a number of photographs were taken or discovered, showing the brewery at different times. Finally, a short film under three minutes was made.
In The 1920s
Jason Wroe uploaded a film made by his great anut in the 1920s. Her tour took in Bristol, Bath, Tenby, Aberystwyth, Llandudno, New Brighton, and Happy Valley. Luckily each location begins with a title so we know where we are.
The beach is packed with people, although everyone on the nearby streets seems smartly dressed.
This silent, black and white 1920s film from the HuntleyFilmArchives shows university students in fancy dress parading through a crowd of spectators. Some are on horses, carts or floats. Among the costumes on display are Rudolph Valentino, Welsh Rebecca Rioters from the 19th century, and Ku Klux Klansmen.
Later scenes show Lloyd George giving a speech at Aberystwyth.
Finally, we see a uniformed Edward VIII being shuffled into a ceremonial coat at Bangor.
Students In 1933
Held by Archif ITV Cymru/Wales @ LlGC | ITV Cymru/Wales Archive @ NLW, this silent, black and white footage was recorded in 1933. Students in gowns wander around the university grounds and play table tenni. Later they appear by the sea, smartly dressed including one youg woman in a fur coat. They takw turns to kick a handrail.
Town And Beach In The 1950s
This very short black and white clip from British Pathé is silent but beautifully shows the town’s position next to the sea and the popularity of its seafront.
A short and colourful home movie showing the popularity of the town and beach.
The Old Trainline
A clip from Unseen Steam lasting just over 1 minute shows the surprising image of a small but busy passenger train that seems to drive through a residential street.
Student Life In The 1960s
This silent British Pathé film is an amusing record of student life in the 1960s. The filmmaker visited recreational, dining and learning areas, as well as a student bedroom. It’s a good record of fashions, wall posters, and activities of the time. Much of it has the feel of boarding school rather than university as we know it today.
Prince Charles In Aberystwyth
In 1969, 21 year old Prince Charles attended the University of Wales for 9 weeks, to learn the Welsh language. Mr Edward Millward was his Welsh tutor. When Prince Charles arrived on campus he was dressed in a suit and driving a tiny car. Security men sat next to and behind him in the car. The one in the back jumped out and opened the Prince’s car door.
Charles was formally received by university dignitaries and a crowd of well wishers. Every room seemed packed with people. Finally, he gets some space as a small number of staff settle him into the language lab.
During the Urdd Eisteddfod in Aberystwyth in 1969, 21 year old Prince Charles stood up to speak. A group of young men suddenly held up protest notices in Welsh and slowly walked out of the venue. Many other audience members booed or looked concerned. Further back, a larger group of young men and women chanted and held up their notices as they filed slowly out of another exist. Cheering and clapping broke out, including some people on stage, and then a second wave of applause takes hold and Prince Charles gives a wave of thanks. Finally, the Prince delivers his speech in Welsh.
On one quiet, wet day in April 1982, Paul Donovan filmed the seafront. The deserted beach and seafront are in stark contrast to the busy scenes recorded in the 1950s.
In 1984, the University’s Department of Physics and Microelectronics department made a promotional film. It’s a great look back at terrible 80s fashion, double parking on yellow lines, ugly cars with squeaky boot lids, and an age when students arrived with just one suitcase because their trunks arrived separately. The hall of residence looks grim, several people look embarrassed to be dancing in the nightclub, and the commentary is provided by someone who sounds like their grandad.
Students were expected to attend 10 hours of lectures a week, and spend a day or two each week in the lab. The lecturer uses the chalkboard, but the lab has “microcomputers”!
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