52 Welsh film facts

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Last updated: 05 March 2010

  1. The first moving pictures seen in Wales were not projected, but shown in 1894 at the Philharmonic Hall on Cardiff's St Mary Street, on coin-in-the-slot "peepshow" machines first produced for the inventor Thomas Alva Edison.
  2. The first film made in Wales was also the first 'Royal visit' film shot in Britain. American-born Birt Acres made the movie of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) at the Great Fine Art, Industrial and Maritime Exhibition in Cardiff's Cathays Park, June 1896.
  3. Arthur Cheetham (1864-1937), from Rhyl, was the first Welsh-based film maker, shooting short movies in 1898. In Rhyl in 1903 he shot a rare surviving movie taken in Britain of the great American Western comic book hero and showman Buffalo Bill Cody.
  4. The first films made in Wales were less than 100ft (lasting about 1 minute 40 seconds), limitations imposed by the design of early cine-cameras.
  5. The first commercial entertainment venue in Wales to project films was the Empire, Queen Street, Cardiff on 11 May 1896, just six days after Birt Acres began screening films to the public at the Cathays Park Fine Art, Industrial and Maritime Exhibition.
  6. Decades before the large format 70mm films became popular in Hollywood, a 70mm film of Conway Castle taken from a moving locomotive was shot in Wales in 1898 by the British Biograph Company. The film's supervisor was William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, who had invented Edison's peepshow machine, the Kinetoscope, a few years before.
  7. Fairground showman William Haggar (1851-1925), still regarded as the most significant Welsh-based filmmaker in British cinema history, made all his 35/36 documented films years before Charlie Chaplin made his screen debut.
  8. The first British film about a 19th century murderer was William Haggar's The Life of Charles Peace (1905). Peace, a notorious burglar celebrated in the 'Penny Dreadful' magazines and comic books for years, was hanged in Leeds, 1879.
  9. The pre-World War One fairground cinema (bioscope) show of the Crecraft family in west and south Wales was still run at the age of 92 by the family matriarch Mrs Elizabeth Crecraft - billed "as the oldest show proprietor in the world". She died in 1916 at the age of 98.
  10. The oldest extant soccer footage anywhere in the world is Blackburn Rovers v West Bromwich Albion 1898, shot by Rhyl's Arthur Cheetham.

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