Barry, Wales: Old Photos & Films

Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan is famous for its beautiful beach and funfair, and remembered fondly for the former Butlins camp at Barry Island, which operated from 1966-1996. Luckily both Barry Island and the town have plenty to offer visitors and residents today, and are within half an hour’s reach of Cardiff.

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History Through Time

BBC Welsh Town Documentary | Barry

A 2012 documentary from the BBC, about the history of the area and its people.


The Railway Queen

The Railway Queen (1929)

Each year, Barry hosted the annual railway work conference. Between 1925 and the 1980s, the Railway Queen opened the event during an official ceremony.

“Ena Best lived on the westerly side of Rusholme in Dorset Avenue with her parents John and Margaret. They were married in 1911 and Ena was born January 13th 1913. In 1928 when Ena was 15 her father who worked on the railways entered her photograph into the annual competition for the Railway Queen.” Rusholme & Victoria Park Archive https://rusholmearchive.org/rusholmes-railway-queen

In this 1929 British Pathé footage, Railway Queen Ena Best wears a white dress and dark cloak. After alighting from a train, she sat in state on her throne-like chair on the back of a van, surrounded by her maids dressed in white. The large procession then passed through the town, watched by a crowd of spectators.

“The competition to be crowned Railway Queen was open to all teenage daughters of railway workers. Despite the demands of the title, the election of an industry queen would often come down to beauty and the apparent virtues of the 14-to-17-year-olds.” Railway Museum https://blog.railwaymuseum.org.uk/the-railway-queen-who-met-stalin/


The Docks In The 1940s

Dockers Talk About Unemployment (1947)

This unused material from British Pathé shows dockers watching material loading into a ship at Barry Docks. Then reporter John Parsons asks the men about their views on unemployment. The men are both deferential, and eloquent.

Barry South Wales. (1948)

This British Pathé footage from 1948 shows the Barry Docks in operation. One of the scenes is a different take, shot from the opposite side, of reporter John Parsons and the workers watching material fall through the chute that we saw in the 1947 clip. 

It’s interesting to note that the distributed film was used in the year following the visit. Furthermore, the interviews about unemployment don’t appear.


Into The 1960s

24 Hour Jiving Marathon 1960 – 77 Sunset Club, Barry

Filmed in 1960, this includes a 15 year old taking part in the 24 hour jiving marathon. Not a single break was permitted.

Barry Island prepares for Easter 1962

From the ITV Cymru/Wales Archive @ NLW comes this 1962 series of interviews from the fair, including a number of children talking about their shillings and six pences.


Fun In The 1980s & 1990s

Growing up in Barry Town in the 80’s

Uploaded by YouTube channel xxagent69, this is a lively montage of old photos, nicely titled with dates and locations.

If it runs too fast for you, slow down the Playback Speed. See the little cog in the right hand bottom corner? Press that, choose Playback Speed from the drop down menu, and select 0.25 or 0.5.

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⏯ Barry Island Fun Fair Circa 1986 – Traum Boot, Fun House, Flitzer, etc

Entertaining clips from Norman J. Warren’s 1986 film Bloody New Year. Features many locations around the fair and some hilariously bad action scenes in full 80s fashion.

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Barry Island Barry Butlins 1992

Lovely vintage footage of Barry Island and Barry Butlins back in May 1992.  The beach and swimming pool are packed with people as everyone enjoys the nice weather.