South West Wales

Star Wars parade marks Pembroke Dock's movie link

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionArchive BBC footage shows the Millennium Falcon being built in a hangar in Pembroke Dock

A Pembrokeshire town's connection to the Star Wars movies has been the focus of a community festival and parade.

It marked the construction of the full-size Millennium Falcon spaceship built in the town in 1979 for the movie The Empire Strikes Back.

Saturday's festival, Pembroke Dock Celebrates, included a Star Wars-themed procession and lightsaber demos.

It ended with the last performance of a play about the spaceship's construction which has been touring Wales.

Image copyright Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre
Image caption Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre was 'guarded' by imperial forces before the festival got underway

Lightspeed from Pembroke Dock was written by Pembrokeshire-born Star Wars fan Mark Williams.

And it starts with a schoolboy super fan discovering that the Millennium Falcon is being built in his home town.

Mr Williams, who now lives in Cardiff, told BBC Radio Wales he believed the latest run of Star Wars films has created renewed interest in the Pembroke Dock story.

"It's just a great opportunity to put the attention on to Pembroke Dock for having done this incredible thing," he said.

"It's an incredible achievement in cinema history in terms of the development of those large-scale models and props, and full-size props, that were built for those films."

Image caption The original Millennium Falcon was able to float around the set on a cushion of compressed air

The construction of the full-scale Millennium Falcon in 1979 took a team of up to 40 people three months to build in a former aircraft hangar.

It was then divided into sections and transported by lorry to Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire for filming.

At the time it was meant to be kept secret, but word soon got out.

Mr Williams remembers hearing for the first time that the Millennium Falcon had been built on his own doorstep.

"I think I'd heard rumours about it, but it almost seemed too good to be true. So it felt quite unbelievable," he said.

The theatre company behind his new play, Dirty Protest, has also been working in partnership with the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre to put the festival together.

Producer Jen Lunn said: "I think there's a real energy and a real drive in Pembroke Dock to say 'Look, this is a brilliant part of our history. Let's shout about it'."

A 3m (9ft 8in) model of the Millennium Falcon was specially built out of plywood to lead Saturday's parade, which was accompanied by stormtroopers and other characters from Star Wars at the town's Pater Hall.

A new movie from the franchise, called 'Solo: A Star Wars Story', is due to be released in UK cinemas on 25 May, featuring a new-look Falcon spaceship which falls into the hands of Han Solo.

More on this story