The steelworks once dominated the landscape and economy of Ebbw Vale, which remains a strong knit community. Images and film recorded a glimpse of the residents’ daily lives at home and work just before the town changed forever.
The Town Through Time
Interviews, old photos and commentary bring the town’s history to life.
Roger Tiley uses a great mix of film footage, old photos, and commentary to describe how the town changed as the steel works disappeared.
The Apprentice School In The 1950s
When this film was made in 1951, the Ebbw Vale Apprentice School for the Richard, Thomas and Baldwin’s steelworks was just four months old. The new building was stocked with first class equipment, and could accommodate up to 25 ‘boys’ at a time.
The General Manager, Mr Young, inspects the machine and fitting shop with Mr W F Gilbertson. Mr Morgan, the apprentice master, leads the tour.
Upstairs, the making of machine drawings was taught, with the boys sitting at high angled desks. In addition, lectures taught the theoretical ideas behind the practical work, and a canteen provided a hot meal each day.
“We have got a grand lot of boys. Wicked, of course, but they learn well and give no trouble.”Mr Pritcher, the Ebbw Vale Apprentice School instructor
As reported in Wales Online in 2014, some of the school’s apprentices from 1966 held a reunion decades later.
The Town In The 1960s
The Welsh writer and broadcaster Gwyn Thomas made this fascinating, often witty, black and white film about the steel town in the 1960s.
Young and old struggle about on steep hills, while the working steelworks dominate the valley floor. The tradition of men in the pub and women in the kitchen is just showing signs of change for some, but for most it seems a physically hard life. Some of the playing children are dirty and wear ragged clothing. But there is the solace of a library and nearby fields. At the end of the short film, the town centre appears.
In 1967, a young filmmaker stayed with the Price family on their farm. Then he accompanied Glyn Price down to his job in the steelworks.
From The 1980s
In 1988, an epsiode of Roy Hudd’s ‘Hometown’ focused on Ebbw Vale. Old film footage and photos are shown between interviews with a variety of older local people. Discussion centres on their lives as children and young adults in the first half of the 20th century. The topics and stories include money, jobs, families and superstitions.
This home video records a lively night in The Bridge pub on 30 October 1989. Lots of local adults, and the occasional child, appear.
The Garden Festival Of 1992
Garden Festivals were a popular event during the late 1980s and early 1990s, occurring in different post-industrial towns and cities. In 1992, Ebbw Vale hosted the Garden Festival.
This home movie was uploaded to YouTube by JJT Adventures, whose grandfather recorded different aspects of the site.
Into The 21st Century
A short clip showing the town’s Woolworths in 2008. Shares in the Woolworths Group were suspended on 26 November 2008. Then the last UK Woorlworths stores closed on 6 January 2009. Across the UK, 27,000 Woolworths staff lost their jobs, and a staple of the British high street disappeared.
You’ll also notice the presence of two phone boxes outside the store. Several people and vehicles go about their daily business.
In 2011 local concerns about car parking problems caught ITV’s attention. Disabled drivers with blue badges suddenly received parking fines. Footage includes several interviews with local people and officials.
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