The descendants of Spanish workers who came to the south Wales valleys a century ago are the focus of a new film project, currently in production, which is advised by a Swansea University researcher.

The Spanish workers, mainly from the north of the country, were employed in iron foundries and coal mines and lived principally around Merthyr, Abercrave and Cardiff. 

“In May 1900, a group of men arrived in south Wales from Barrakaldo, Bilbao in order to take up employment at the Dowlais Iron works. They had been recruited, as skilled iron workers, to fill vacancies brought about as a result of Welsh workers volunteering for the Second Boer War conflict (1899-1902). They were the first of many who came to Wales over the next two decades.”

The film, titled Hola Cymru, will explore how much of a sense of “Spanishness” remains today amongst people descended from those Spanish workers.

Dr Stephen Murray, a Research Fellow in the College Arts and Humanities at Swansea University, is a historian who is working with the filmmakers, Let’s Get There Productions, an independent company based in Cardiff.

Dr Murray asks“How Spanish are the descendants of those original workers?” 

This is the major focus of the film, along with the memories the current group may still have of their ancestors who were the original diaspora.

“The Spanish added their own language, customs and traditions to the rich mix that is the culture of south Wales.  Their descendants continue to contribute a great deal to community life in Merthyr, Dowlais and Abercrave, playing an important part in forging the cosmopolitan, outgoing, tolerant outlook of those areas.”

As one writer suggests, “the more you know about a person’s past, the more likely you are to understand why they are as they are in the present.”

The final cut is currently in production and will be released for viewing at:

  •  O’Neill’s, 85-87 St Mary’s Street, Cardiff. 28 August. 19.00 hrs (7pm)
  • Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Cardiff. 9 September. 18.00 hrs (6pm)
  • Dowlais Library, Church Street, Merthyr. 21 September. 13.00 hrs (1pm), (limited to 50 people).
  • The film will be shown as part of Merthyr’s “Open Doors” project titled: “In The Spanish Quarter: An Exploration of Spanish Heritage in Dowlais in the  Twentieth century”

Funding is being sought to be able to extend the project.  For more information, email the production company directly or visit their website