Twentieth Century

  • NANTCLWYD HOUSE, RUTHIN, DENBIGHSHIRE, 1916 and 1942
  • BLAENAVON IRONWORKS, STACK SQUARE COTTAGES: 1926, 1944, 1953 and 1967

    The recreation of four successive 20th century cottage interiors at Stack Square, Blaenavon Ironworks, proved one of our most challenging recent projects. Last occupied in 1968, the partly derelict workers' houses were used as the setting for the popular BBC Wales TV programmes 'Coal House' and 'Coal House at War' (2007 and 2009). The end of filming saw the 'set' interiors stripped, or equipped with out-of-period artefacts.

    We were called upon at short notice to revamp the interiors of four houses in a more authentic manner, setting them respectively in 1926, 1944, 1953 and 1967. We worked to a tight schedule and an even tighter budget, through one of the most savage winters of recent years. But with the generosity which is characteristic of Blaenavon people, the volunteers of the Cordell Heritage Museum and other townspeople provided unwavering support throughout.

    With their help we were able to identify exactly who lived in each cottage at the relevant dates, and were given access to a rich photographic archive which allowed us to deck the cottages with reproduced photos of the period occupants and/or their friends and relations.

    Our overriding aim was to get the 'feel' of the various interiors right, for their location as well as their precise date. Nearly all the furniture, fittings and artefacts were acquired locally, but we had to search further afield for items such as an authentic 1950s gas-stove and television.

    We also took particular care with the interior decoration, seeking out appropriate original textiles for each decade and using authentic 1950s and 1960s wallpapers and paint colours. At the celebration tea held in Blaenavon Workmen's Institute, older townspeople paid us the great compliment of telling us they felt quite at home in our recreations.
    For Bright 3D and Cadw, 2012-3

    (Photographs: Gareth Parry. Old photographs courtesy of the Blaenavon Community Heritage and Cordell Museum)

    For other recreations at Blaenavon, please see the Georgian and Victorian period sections

    Blaenavon Ironworks is open to visitors:
    http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/blaenavonironworks/?lang=en

BLAENAVON IRONWORKS, STACK SQUARE COTTAGES: 1926, 1944, 1953 and 1967

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