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To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the National Lottery’s funding of film projects in Wales, through the BFI and/or Ffilm Cymru Wales, the top 10 historic films viewed on the archive project Britain on Film has now been revealed, writes Sophie Platt.

As well as producing critically acclaimed films such as Pride, Dark Horse, Journey’s End and Eternal Beauty, the National Lottery and BFI created the Britain on Film, project – making available thousands of forgotten films from the archives.

The project has been a massive success, gaining 75 million online views.

The most watched local film in Wales is Swansea, Victoria – Pontardulais Railway, 1964 (Screen and Sound Archive, National Library of Wales) – a record of one of the last train ride from Swansea’s Victoria Station to Pontarddulais before it closed, followed by Snow Llanelli 1982 (Screen and Sound Archive, National Library of Wales) a home movie which shows Llanelli as a winter wonderland as snow covers its streets, and icicles hang from the roofs of buildings.

The list of the top 10 most watched films for Wales from Britain on Film are:

  1. Swansea, Victoria – Pontardulais Railway (1964)

  2. Snow Llanelli (1982)

  3. Tryweryn, the Story of a Valley (1965)

  4. Camwell Personal Film No. 62: Welshpool Raven Square Railway (1963)

  5. Come with Me to Cardiff (1954)

  6. Connah’s Quay Carnival and Fete (1965)

  7. To the Four Corners (1957)

  8. Rails To Talsarn (1964)

  9. Aberystwyth Promenade (1969)

  10. Llanidloes (1965)

Comedian and amateur film historian Paul Merton commented on the Britain on Film project saying that “Whilst you or I may never have heard of them before and they will never trouble the weekly box office lists, the films have captured the imagination of the British public and amassed an incredible 75 million online views.”

Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, £5 million has now been granted to help the National Broadcast Archive in Wales start up. This will allow for roughly 240,000 hours of Welsh radio and television footage to be circulated. There are four of these archives in Wales: in Aberystwyth, Wrexham, Carmarthen and Cardiff.

The archives produced here will cover almost 100 years of broadcasting, which will also include the most important points from 20th-century Wales. The point is to keep them accessible and safe for the future generations of Wales.

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