Star Wars: Millennium Falcon Pembrokeshire exhibition to open

By Aled Scourfield
BBC News

  • Published
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The story of how the life-size Millennium Falcon was made is set to be shared.

It is the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy and capable of completing the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.

What is less well known about the Millennium Falcon is it truly was the last ship to be built at the Royal Pembroke Dockyard.

Now an exhibition will tell the story of how Han Solo's beloved spaceship was built in an aircraft hangar in the Pembrokeshire town in spring 1979.

It will tell the story with photographs, film, models and costumes.

The project was so secret it was codenamed The Magic Roundabout, but eventually word of the "UFO" being built in the western hangar got out.

A BBC Wales crew even paid a visit to the team at Marcon Fabrications who were tasked with building the gigantic intergalactic cruiser.

The engineers normally worked for petrochemical and oil companies.

It took three months to build before being transported to Elstree Studios for production of the Oscar-winning The Empire Strikes Back.

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Old photographs of the Millennium Falcon construction project feature in the new exhibition

The giant life-sized model can been seen in the scenes at the beginning of the film on the frozen planet of Hoth when the Rebel Alliance's secret base is under attack.

An £8,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has allowed locals to tell the story of how the fastest ship in the galaxy was built.

Work on the Millennium Falcon exhibition at the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre, which opens on Monday, has been going on for some time under the watchful eye of local Star Wars expert and enthusiast Mark Williams.

"George Lucas set a new standard in both storytelling and filmmaking with Star Wars and the story of the Millennium Falcon being built in Pembroke Dock was big news at the time.

"The whole world knew about it, then the story faded into legend."

"The idea of a town in west Wales making a significant contribution to this incredible story by being the place where one of the most iconic star ships in science fiction history was built, creates a mixture of disbelief, awe and pride."

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A National Lottery grant funded the exhibition

In an exclusive interview for BBC Wales, the general manager of Lucasfilm, Lynwen Brennan, who is from Pembrokeshire, admitted she did not know about the link between her home county and Star Wars until 10 years ago

"It's just so fabulous to find there is that common connection. I think that the force must be strong with Pembrokeshire!

"One of the things I love about this is it feels so very Star Wars, that there was this secret band of rebels, away in a warehouse in Pembroke Dock, and doing incredible work.

'Incredible craftspeople'

"There's something that's very authentic about that and the fact that the falcon was built in an authentic shipyard by these incredible craftspeople.

"I think that leads to why Star Wars has resonated and lasted so long because it feels real.

"There is such a level of detail in the scenery, the props, the ships, and because they are built by incredible craftspeople, that's what comes over on screen. That's why people are able to dive into this world and lose themselves in this world."

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The life-size model was built in Pembroke Dock in 1979 before being shipped to movie studios

Ms Brennan was raised in Penally before making her mark with the company behind the Star Wars films and said she definitely plans to visit the exhibition when she is home in Wales at the end of June.

"I love the fact that it's in the town my mum was born in and I still have a lot of family in Pembroke Dock, so I have a huge connection. Pembrokeshire is still my home."

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The display will be held at the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre from Monday