North East Wales

At the Coal Face: Wrexham film festival's mines focus

A film festival is looking back on the final years of Wrexham's coal and steel making industries.

The footage was shot as part of a 1980s community archive project and shows life inside mines like Bersham Colliery as well as the miners' strike in 1984.

They also include highly charged visits by miners' leader Arthur Scargill and then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

At the Coal Face at Bersham Heritage Centre over the next three weekends is organised by Wrexham Heritage Services.

Access and interpretation officer Jonathan Gammond said one of the strongest films features the miners' strike with interviews from people involved on both sides of the picket line.

"Each side has their own version of events," he said, describing how willing film-making amateurs learning on the job captured some of the events as they unfolded live as part of a defunct film archive project.

Image caption Miners drawing waste at Wrexham's former Hafod Colliery

The miners' strike began in March 1984 and ended a year later, prompted by an announcement that 20 pits were to close, with 20,000 jobs to go.

One film includes a highly charged visit to Wrexham by Scargill and another of an unrelated visit by Thatcher during the strike.

"She got a welcome but not the warmest kind," said Mr Gammond.

The following weekend focuses on Brymbo Steelworks, which once employed up to 6,000 people, and closed over 20 years ago.

The final set of films looks to industries like electronics firm Sharp at Llay as well as local brick and tilemaker Dennis Ruabon.

At the Coal Face is held at Bersham Heritage Centre on Saturday and Sunday 8-9 September, noon-17:00 BST.

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